Uber Makes Controversial Headlines (Again)

By Heisenberg Media - Flickr: Travis Kalanick LeWeb Day 1 - Dan Taylor/Heisenberg Media, CC BY 2.0,
Uber Makes Controversial Headlines (Again)
Christina Comben

The utopian transport company, Uber, is in the headlines again, for all the wrong reasons. This time though, it’s not taxi drivers or trade unions around the world overturning cars or protesting in the streets. It’s Uber’s co-founder, Travis Kalanick, whose catching people’s attention.

Unforgiveable outburst

Uber CEO, Travis Kalanick, was forced to apologize publicly after a video of him swearing and speaking inappropriately to an Uber driver went viral. What caused Kalanick’s temperamental outburst? It came after Uber driver, Fawzi Kamel, who was driving him at the time, made his dissatisfaction about Uber’s fare structure known. Kamel complained that his income had fallen and laid the blame on the transport company’s change in policy.

A heated discussion

Kalanick sent out an email to all Uber employees to say that he was deeply “ashamed” of his behavior and that he should learn to “grow up.” The video was published by Bloomberg and clearly shows an argument between the Uber CEO and his driver, Kamal, who picked him up earlier in February.

There was an exchange between both parties about the lower fares through Uber’s pricing system, until Kalanick told the driver: “Some people don’t like to take responsibility… They blame everything in their life on somebody else. Good luck!”

He also swore at driver during the conversation.

Nothing new

The incident comes just two weeks after the Uber boss had to apologize for “abhorrent” sexism at his company. Moreover, on Monday of this week, engineer chief at Uber, Amit Singhal, was also asked to resign over a related incident. It seems that not everything is as caring and sharing at Uber as the company would like us to believe.

In his staff email, Kalanick said: “To say that I am ashamed is an extreme understatement.” He acknowledged that his job was to lead and set an example that made his employees proud. He admitted that he had failed miserably to do that on this occasion.

“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.”

He went on to say that he wanted to apologize profoundly to Fawzi for treating him with disrespect, as well as the driver and rider community at Uber and the rest of the team.

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