Now might be a good time to be an investor in Lfyt. Why? Because Uber seems intent on f*cking itself all to hell. Here’s a brief rundown of some of the things the company has done in just the past 24 hours.
1. For reasons that defy all logic — with the exception being arrogant beyond normal human comprehension — an Uber executive suggested in public to a bunch of journalists that the company should consider digging up dirt and publicly smearing journalists who are critical of the company.
2. The person who made this impossibly stupid and shocking public statement was Emil Michael, a former Klout executive who now serves as Uber’s senior vice president of business. Writes Buzzfeed’s Ben Smith…
At the dinner, Uber CEO and founder Travis Kalanick, boyish with tousled graying hair and a sweater, made the case that he has been miscast as an ideologue and as insensitive to driver and rider complaints, while in fact he has largely had his head down building a transformative company that has beat his own and others’ wildest expectations.
Michael, who Kalanick described as “one of the top deal guys in the Valley” when he joined the company, is a charismatic and well-regarded figure who came to Uber from Klout. He also sits on a board that advises the Department of Defense.
Over dinner, he outlined the notion of spending “a million dollars” to hire four top opposition researchers and four journalists. That team could, he said, help Uber fight back against the press — they’d look into “your personal lives, your families,” and give the media a taste of its own medicine.
Michael was particularly focused on one journalist, Sarah Lacy, the editor of the Silicon Valley website PandoDaily, a sometimes combative voice inside the industry. Lacy recently accused Uber of “sexism and misogyny.” She wrote that she was deleting her Uber app after BuzzFeed News reported that Uber appeared to be working with a French escort service. “I don’t know how many more signals we need that the company simply doesn’t respect us or prioritize our safety,” she wrote.
3. Mentioned specifically as a target was Pando Daily’s Sarah Lacy. After the news broke, she wrote…
Today, in his horrifying scoop, Smith writes about the the lengths that at least one Uber executive, Emil Michael, was willing to go to discredit anyone– particularly a woman– who may try to question how Uber operates.
Ruining her life? Manufacturing lies? Going after her family? Apparently it’s all part of what Uber has described as its “political campaign” to build a $30 billion (and counting) tech company. A campaign that David Plouffe was hired to “run,” that’s looking more like a pathetic version of play acting House of Cards than a real campaign run by a real political professional. Because step one of an illegal smear campaign against a woman is: Don’t brag about it to a journalist at a party.
The woman in question? The woman that this Uber executive has vowed to go to nearly any lengths to ruin, to bully into silence? Me.
I first heard of this when Smith called me for comment over the weekend. I was out late at a work dinner in London and stepped out into the cold to take the call. A chill ran down my spine that had little to do with the weather, as he described the bizarre interaction. I immediately thought of my kids at home halfway around the world, just getting out of their baths and groggily pulling on their pajamas, and how the new line that this company was willing to cross would affect them.
4. Sarah Lacy received a call today from Emil Michael asking to speak “off the record.” She declined his request. She also said she never gave him her phone number.
5. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick issued a half-ass apology via tweetstorm…
6. Emil Michael has not been fired and will continue to be employed as an executive at Uber, apparently.
My response to all of this? What he said…