Sunday, March 5, 2017

On Uber's Bad Behavior

  • Responding to statements about sexual harassment from a former Uber engineer (Feb. 19), CEO Travis Kalanick said “I have just read Susan Fowler’s blog. What she describes is abhorrent and against everything Uber stands for and believes in. It’s the first time this has come to my attention so I have instructed Liane Hornsey, our new Chief Human Resources Officer, to conduct an urgent investigation into these allegations. We seek to make Uber a just workplace and there can be absolutely no place for this kind of behavior at Uber — and anyone who behaves this way or thinks this is OK will be fired.” 
  • Responding to a video by an Uber driver (posted Feb. 28), Kalanick said “By now I’m sure you’ve seen the video where I treated an Uber driver disrespectfully. To say that I am ashamed is an extreme understatement. My job as your leader is to lead…and that starts with behaving in a way that makes us all proud. That is not what I did, and it cannot be explained away … It’s clear this video is a reflection of me—and the criticism we’ve received is a stark reminder that I must fundamentally change as a leader and grow up. This is the first time I’ve been willing to admit that I need leadership help and I intend to get it … I want to profoundly apologize to Fawzi, as well as the driver and rider community, and to the Uber team.” 
  • Responding to a New York Times article (March 3) that said, “Uber has for years engaged in a worldwide program to deceive the authorities in markets where its low-cost ride-hailing service was being resisted by law enforcement or, in some instances, had been outright banned. The program … uses data collected from the Uber app and other techniques to identify and circumvent officials. Uber used these methods to evade the authorities in cities such as Boston, Paris and Las Vegas, and in countries like Australia, China, Italy and South Korea.”, 
  • an Uber statement said “This program denies ride requests to users who are violating our terms of service — whether that’s people aiming to physically harm drivers, competitors looking to disrupt our operations, or opponents who collude with officials on secret ‘stings’ meant to entrap drivers.”
  • Notes on Uber: 1) The firm's 2016 revenue was $5.5 billion, with a loss of about $3 billion, 2) it has raised over $11 billion in capital and debt, 3) the company has a valuation of about $65 billion.  

MY TAKE
  • Comments by Uber investors Mitch and Freada Kapor (Feb. 23) are worth considering: “Uber has been here many times before, responding to public exposure of bad behavior by holding an all-hands meeting, apologizing and vowing to change, only to quickly return to aggressive business as usual … Investors in high growth, financially successful companies rarely, if ever, call out inexcusable behavior from founders or C-suite executives.”
  • Note: Mitch Kapor was founder of Lotus Development Corp.

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