Uber CEO admits he needs leadership help after disrespecting driver

Violet Tucker
March 3, 2017

In the latest embarrassment to beset the ride-hailing company, CEO Travis Kalanick is seen discussing Uber's business model with the driver. The frank acknowledgement comes after video surfaced of him berating an Uber driver, and follows a blistering blog post by a former engineer who said she was subjected to repeated sexual harassment and the company failed to stop it. When Kamel complains about the company lowering earnings for drivers over the years, Kalanick concludes the conversation in a heated tone saying that people should "take responsibility" for their own problems.

The video was taken in February by Fawzi Kamel, a longtime driver in Uber's original high-end Uber Black service. But now the CEO is apologizing.

"Uber names/blames me for account deletes, and has a different law firm -not Holders - investigating me", Rigetti wrote on Twitter Thursday morning. "I need leadership help, and I intend to get it", he wrote.

His own statements could be an indictment of his leadership of the company as Uber simultaneously battles allegations of a lax company culture with sexual harassment and a lawsuit accusing the company of stealing self-driving auto designs from Google. Kalanick's challenges, says Rob Enderle, a technology industry analyst, aren't about strategy or expertise on the company's core business. "I lost $97,000 because of you", Kamel tells Kalanick.

"Some people don't like to take responsibility for their own (expletive)", Kalanick says in the video before getting out of the vehicle. The only fare hike in that time was 20 cents tacked onto the booking fee - a charge that Uber doesn't split with its drivers, he said. But you could always count on the uber-competitive entrepreneur to own it. "Good luck", Uber CEO said as he slammed the door. "There is this idea that you are afraid of showing up on YouTube the next day, and it's going to not allow you to act as freely", he said.

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Just a few days later, Kalanick left President Trump's advisory panel. Covington will be focusing on the larger company culture while Perkins will be handling individual cases.

In a lawsuit filed last week, the self-driving vehicle division of Google parent company Alphabet accused a company that was eventually acquired by Uber of stealing trade secrets. Each company also has incentives for drivers to carry more passengers.

Susan Fowler blogged about a dismissive Human Resources department, even predicting she would receive a poor performance report from the same supervisor she accused of sexual harassment should she not switch to another department in the company. Sources say Campbell was assigned typical HR tasks rather than being given the opportunity to meaningfully build out Uber's diversity efforts.

The company said it has hired former US attorney general Eric Holder to help lead an investigation into the harassment claims, but Uber investors Mitch and Freada Kapor in February took issue with the internal nature of the probe in an open letter addressed to the Uber board and the company's financial backers.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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