In addition to everything else that Uber has disrupted, the company with one of the most viciously sexist management teams imaginable even seemed to be immune to the idea — long held as gospel in the business world — that culture matters.
But it turns out that the man-boys running the internet sector’s moral equivalent to Fox News were wrong.
So far, 20 staff have been fired following an investigation into 200 harassment claims, and the founder and CEO Travis Kalanick has been stood aside on “indefinite leave”.
He says he is going to go away and reflect on his leadership style. Seriously, insert rolling eye emoji here. The Money Men — and they are mostly men — who funded the business, and who tolerated its appalling behaviour and turned a blind eye at every opportunity, might like to join him in that quiet reflection. Though beatings with birch bark would seem more appropriate.
Their argument for years was “you need people like that to smash through in new ventures”.
They were wrong, of course. Or they were lying. Actually, it was much worse than lying, because at every step they applauded — even though they knew the truth.
Lyft — the anti-Uber — is currently eating its rival’s lunch. It’s hiving off a growing share of Uber’s business as customers recoil in disgust at continuing reports emanating from the company.
Uber’s Board of Directors came in for special attention in the investigation. There are, in fact, five separate recommendations about the Board, including the appointment of an independent chairman (although maybe a chairwoman might be a better idea).
Then there is this gem:
“The Board should be restructured to include additional independent Board seats. These additional Board members should be directors with meaningful experience on other Boards who can exercise independent oversight of Uber’s management.”
Presumably, the current board lacks the “… meaningful experience” necessary to effect change.
The current Board members are Garrat Camp, Travis Kalanick, Ryan Graves, John Gurley, David Bonderman (everything you need to know about Bonderman you can discern from this report), and the only one with two X chromosomes: Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington.
And here’s what Kalanick had to say about Huffington’s appointment in April last year: “Arianna embodies the type of optimistic leadership we need as Uber continues to grow. Her guidance has been invaluable to me personally over the years, and I know that in this new role she’ll help take Uber to the next level.”
Note this sentence: “Her guidance has been invaluable to me personally over the years.”
Apparently not. And Huffington; she either approved, acquiesced or was ineffective.
UPDATE: David Bonderman has resigned from the Uber board less than 24 hours after sexist comments he made to fellow board member Arianna Huffington at a company meeting were reported.
Former Senior Vice President of Business —and Kalanick’s 2IC — Emil Michael also resigned yesterday. You may remember Michael as the Uber executive who wanted to set private investigators onto Pando Daily editor Sarah Lacy.
Recall also that former Uber President Jeff Jones quit in March, apparently dismayed by what he found at the company. He issued a statement to Recode at the time, saying “It is now clear, however, that the beliefs and approach to leadership that have guided my career are inconsistent with what I saw and experienced at Uber, and I can no longer continue as President of the ride-sharing business.”
We used to think that Groupon was the worst “successful” company the Valley ever produced — but all its bosses ever did was lose other people’s money and lie about their numbers.
Uber created a workplace utterly hostile to half the world’s population, used technology to circumvent laws around the world, and responded to criticism by smearing critics.
The company’s dramas have been building for years, but really took off earlier this year. That was when “Susan Fowler, a former engineer at Uber Technologies, Inc. (“Uber”), published a blog post detailing allegations of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation during her employment at Uber, and the ineffectiveness of the company’s then-existing policies and procedures.”
That sentence is the opening line of former US Attorney-General Eric Holder’s report into Uber. You can peruse the recommendations about how Uber should respond to the whole awful, horror story here.