Uber CEO Caught on Video Arguing with Driver, Finally Admits He Needs “Leadership Help”
A video showing the 40-year old CEO disrespecting an Uber Black driver indicates maybe it’s time for the boy-king to grow up.
If Uber's streak of public relations problems has a silver lining, it's that CEO Travis Kalanick is finally ready to admit that he needs help with his leadership skills at Uber.
Uber Black driver Fawzi Kamel shared with Bloomberg a video that captured an argument he had with the CEO of the mobility company over recent changes to Uber Black prices. At the end of a trip in which Kamel transported Kalanick and two passengers, he expressed his frustration with the company's frequently changing price structure. Uber has increased its commission over the years and reduced fares, which Kalanick says are necessary to be competitive. However, the drop in revenue caused him to go bankrupt, the Uber Black driver said. Instead of concern from the 40-year old CEO, he got a scolding.
“Some people don't like to take responsibility for their own shit," Kalanick tells Kamel in the video. "They blame everything in their life on somebody else. Good luck!”
Shortly after the video became public, Kalanick wrote an email to employees obtained by TechCrunch apologizing for disrespecting an Uber driver, and for his behavior in general:
"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."
Kalanick has been facing intense scrutiny since last week for cultivating a toxic workplace that ignores sexual harassment complaints and gender discrimination and protects an "A-Team" of high performing engineers at the expense of female employees. He has retained former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to assist board member Arianna Huffington with an investigation of these claims, which have been corroborated by several current and former employees. However, that's not even the biggest issue the company is facing.
Uber is being sued by Waymo, which alleges that several former employees stole intellectual property and trade secrets before joining competitor Otto, which was started by Anthony Levandowski, one of the founding members of then-Google's self-driving team. Documents shared with The New York Times reveal that its autonomous technology was at fault for running several red traffic lights during its self-driving vehicle pilot in San Francisco, rather than the "human error" it publicly claimed. It's also trying to stem the flow of customers leaving the company in droves following the #DeleteUber campaign that started when it cancelled surge fares during a taxi cab strike at JFK airport.
It's not clear what Kalanick seeking "leadership help" means or how it will affect the broken company culture. Emails from The Drive to the ride-sharing company were not immediately returned. With the customers and drivers turning against the start-up that promised to disrupt transportation, investors who have plunged more than $11 billion into Uber should hope that whatever it is, it's not too little, too late.