Uber’s public relations woes just won’t end it seems. Despite their business growing “week after week” according to Bloomberg, the company and its CEO Travis Kalanick continue to run into situations that earn them hefty criticism. Aside from issues stemming from the company’s use of self-driving vehicles in San Francisco and claims of intellectual property theft by Alphabet, Uber has run into numerous issues with users stemming from company decisions.
The #DeleteUber movement sprouted in response to Uber undercutting a strike at JFK by New York taxi drivers in response to Trump’s travel ban. More than 200,000 dropped the service according to Bloomberg and it shined a spotlight on Kalanick’s connections to the Trump administration. The company also fell into hot water following allegations of “rampant sexual harassment,” prompting an urgent investigation and the hiring of former Obama Attorney General Eric Holder to aid in the damage control.
Now Bloomberg has published this video turned over by Uber driver Fawzi Kamel — filmed on Super Bowl Sunday — showing Kalanick facing criticism for the company’s fares and how it affects drivers. As Bloomberg points out, the video starts like most Uber rides would and doesn’t seem out of the ordinary until Kamel decides to use the moment to address issues he felt were facing many Uber drivers. It begins as a back-and-forth discussion on the nature of Uber’s business and its competition, but soon becomes a heated argument:
Kamel: “But people are not trusting you anymore. … I lost $97,000 because of you. I’m bankrupt because of you. Yes, yes, yes. You keep changing every day. You keep changing every day.”
Kalanick: “Hold on a second, what have I changed about Black? What have I changed?”
Kamel: “You changed the whole business. You dropped the prices.”
Kalanick: “On black?”
Kamel: “Yes, you did.”
Kalanick begins to lose his temper. “Bullshit,” he says.
Kamel: “We started with $20.”
Kamel: “We started with $20. How much is the mile now, $2.75?”
Kalanick: “You know what?”
Kalanick: “Some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own shit. They blame everything in their life on somebody else. Good luck!”
Kamel: “Good luck to you, but I know [you’re not] going to go far.”
This did not sit well with many online, especially those emboldened by the #DeleteUber movement, and seemed to only add to the woes Kalanick has been facing.
The CEO apologized for the video soon after Bloomberg published their story, sending a message to all employees addressing his actions and how he wants to change in the future:
By now I’m sure you’ve seen the video where I treated an Uber driver disrespectfully. 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.
Kamel informed Bloomberg that he was still prompted to rate Kalanick following the ride. His “one-star” rating speaks volumes for the CEO’s current status among the public and his employees.