Embattled Uber CEO Caught on Camera Lashing At a “Black Car” Driver Over Falling Fares

Travis Kalanick Uber CEO - The Platform101
Travis Kalanick Uber CEO - The Platform101
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After months of mounting scandal for the company, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has found himself in even more hot water.

A video of the Silicon Valley titan lashing out at a driver who confronted him during a ride on Super Bowl Sunday emerged on Tuesday.

The footage, which was obtained by Bloomberg, shows Kalanick yelling ‘bulls***’ as the driver, Fawzi Kamel, accused him for ‘bankrupting’ him by lowering the ‘prices’ of black car rides, the company’s high end chauffeur service.

‘You know what, some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own s***. ‘They blame everything in their life on somebody else. Good luck,’ he barked at the driver before jumping out of the car.

Kalinack said he was ‘ashamed’ of the video on Tuesday in a memo issued to staff.

He had been trying to explain to the driver that the price of rides in the more luxurious cars hadn’t fallen but that they simply weren’t as popular as the cheaper alternative, Uber X.

He said the company, which launched with a focus on the higher end service, had no choice but to start offering more affordable rides when competitors like Lyft sprung up.

‘You’re misunderstanding. We started high end. We didn’t go low end because we wanted to, we went low end because we had to,’ he said.

The driver, dissatisfied with his reasoning, said ‘no one’ trusted him because of the changing agenda.

‘People aren’t trusting you anymore? Do you think people will buy cars anymore? Nobody wants to buy a car. I lost $97,000 because of you. I’m bankrupt because of you,’ he said, suggesting buying his vehicle to drive for Uber was pointless now that he is making less money.

Earlier in the journey Kalanick laughed to two female companions sitting on either side of him that ‘every year is hard’ and if it’s not, he’s not ‘pushing hard enough’.

‘I make sure every year is a hard year. That’s kind of how I roll. If it’s easy I’m not pushing hard enough,’ he said with a smile.

The unidentified women told him how one ‘only dated older men’ and said they were trying to ‘loosen’ him out of his ‘shell’.

He abruptly shut down business talk as one asked where he was next traveling to, telling them: ‘I can’t talk about where I’m going.’

In a groveling memo to staff on Tuesday, the CEO said he was ‘ashamed’ of the video.

‘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,’ he said.

The footage adds to the company’s growing list of woes.

It is already facing horrific allegations that sexism, racism and homophobia are commonplace throughout its offices from former female employees who say they were routinely harassed. Kalanick has brought in former US Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate the accusations.

One woman, who aired her grievances anonymously in a blog post last week, said ‘abusive attitudes’ she was subjected to were fostered by the CEO.

On Monday it was revealed that one of Uber’s senior executives failed to disclose a sexual assault allegation from his previous employer, Google. Kalanick asked for his resignation after discovering the allegation.

The company is also under fire from its Silicon Valley competitors. Google’s self-driving car entity Waymo is suing Otto, Uber’s version, for stealing its technology. Lawyers allege that Uber engineers stole 14,000 documents which map out Waymo’s lidar technologies.

Lidar is the network of lasers which map out the world around self-driving cars, allowing them to navigate themselves without drivers.

Kalanick also bore the brunt of a user boycott earlier in the year. Thousands deleted the app en masse in protest of its response to demonstrations against Trump’s immigration ban at New York’s JFK Airport.

While New York taxis stopped running as a show of solidarity to the protesters, Uber carried on operating but lifted the surcharge it normally applies when demand is high.

Many viewed the move as an attempt to capitalize on the gap despite Uber’s intention to do exactly the opposite. Kalanick later stepped down from Trump’s economic advisory council as a result of the row.

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