Travis Kalanick is out. The 40-year-old Uber CEO resigned Tuesday as the ride-hailing giant faces crises on multiple fronts and investors called for a change in leadership.
Kalanick, who co-founded Uber, will likely continue to be involved with the company due to his control over substantial voting shares. But Kalanick, and his rules-be-damned approach, will no longer be leading Uber, now valued at close to $70 billion.
For many Kalanicks sudden departure may come as a shock. But for those who watched him testify before the DC Council five years ago, the only wonder may be that he lasted this long.
It was September 2012, before Uber became so gargantuan. Back then, fighting off pesky regulators and councilmembers in a market like DC warranted a visit from the head honcho himself.
And when Kalanick showed up to testify before the Councils transportation committee, he was raring for a fight.
When then-Ward 1 Councilman Jim Graham asked how Uber determined the number of drivers to contract with, Kalanick replied, How does the ice cream store know how much ice cream to get? He just figures it out and he buys some freakin ice cream.
Freakin ice cream aside, Graham, who passed away earlier this month, wanted to know how many vehicles Uber had on the road, a legitimate public safety concern. But Ubers then-35-year-old CEO refused to specify. Were in the hundreds, he said. Its not low hundreds and its not high hundreds.
Today there are almost certainly many more Uber vehicles clogging DCs streets, but how many more isnt clear. (DCs taxi commission, now renamed the Department of For-Hire Vehicles, is legislatively prohibited from collecting this information from private transportation companies like Uber.)
Back at the hearing, Kalanick continued interrupting at will, only now he was talking over Councilmember Mary Cheh, the committee chair.
Any attempt by the city to regulate Ubers variable pricing model, which can jump quickly, would be like communist Russia where there were long lines for toilet paper due to government controls, said Kalanick, who seemed to be channeling Ayn Rand. (Kalanick used to have as his Twitter avatar a picture of Rands The Fountainhead, which he previously described as one of my favorite books.)
It may be telling that Kalanick couldnt find it in himself to show respect for a woman heading up the very committee overseeing ride-sharing in DC. In subsequent years, a lack of respect for women has manifested itself throughout Kalanicks company.
Among the many examples: A female reporter whod written critically of Uber was tracked by the company through its God View tool. The medical records of a woman raped by an Uber driver in India were obtained by the company and shared among top executives including Kalanick; the victim, a resident of Texas, has sued Uber, Kalanick and two other executives who have also left the company (one was fired, the other quit after an investigation recommended his removal). These same executives took part in a company outing to a South Korean escort bar, prompting a female worker to speak out despite feeling pressured not to. Kalanick himself described how Uber had turned him into a chick magnet, saying, we call that Boob-er. Within the company itself there have been damning reports of sexual harassment, which recently led to over 20 firings.
To help counter this bro culture, Uber board member Arianna Huffington suggested having a greater female presence on the board. But thatd make it much more likely to be more talking, said fellow board member David Bonderman (who resigned later that day).
Bondermans comment came at the very meeting at which Uber released 13 pages of recommendations compiled by former Attorney General Eric Holder and his law firm, Covington & Burlington, which spent nearly four months investigating sexual harassment and other issues at Uber. (Uber has not released the full report.)
Ubers board said it was accepting all of Holders recommendations, which included reducing Kalanicks control over the company but did not call for his termination.
The sexism prevalent throughout Uber has received lots of media attention of late, and for good reason. Less discussed is the right-wing, anti-government ideology that fueled Kalanick and Uber, and which was on full display before the DC Council five years ago.
No single company or interest should have the power to use its wealth the way Uber does, said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen.
In city after city, Uber runs roughshod over local elected governments and law enforcement, according to a blistering report by Public Citizen.
Ubers willingness to break rules has been crucial to its explosive growth, which has greatly benefited its investors.
But even absent fantastic returns, some Uber investors may support the companys rules-be-damned approach.
Take, for example, Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos, whos a major investor in Uber.* (Youd be forgiven for not knowing this since the Post regularly fails to disclose this clear conflict of interest.) Bezos, of course, has made his fortune as founder and CEO of Amazon, which has itself been accused of bullying competitors, cheating the government and mistreating workers. (Kalanick admires Amazon so much he mimicked the companys 14 core values by creating the same number for Uber, which include always be hustlin and toe stepping).
Another major Uber investor is Saudi Arabias Public Investment Fund. In addition to being as authoritarian a country as they come, Saudi Arabia prohibits women from driving. (This sexist ban benefits Uber which makes money off rides Saudi women depend on, many pointed out in an online campaign.)
Kalanick has done a good job of playing down these right-wing ties. Today, youre unlikely to see him giving a speech at, say, the Koch brothers-backed Heritage Foundation, as he did in December of 2011, the week he launched Uber here in DC.
Image is everything, and Kalanick understood that coming across as a right-winger could damage Ubers business model, which depends heavily on riders (and drivers) in left-leaning cities across the country and world.
This may explain why Kalanick hired ex-Obama officials and why he stepped down from Trumps economic advisory council in February.
The latter came as #DeleteUber took off. The online campaign was in response to Ubers announcement that it would hold off on surge pricing and keep prices low as New York cab drivers were striking at JFK airport in protest of Trumps travel ban. (Uber denies it was trying to undermine the strikers.)
While Uber has had success in pushing around struggling taxi drivers and local law enforcement, the company hasnt had as much luck with two bigger foes: Didi and Waymo.
Kalanick had big plans for Ubers expansion in China but it was not to be. After suffering staggering losses, Uber sold its China division to its Chinese competitor, Didi, receiving a stake in the company in return.
Uber also faces a potentially damaging situation back home in a lawsuit brought by Waymo, Googles driverless car division. Uber recently fired the former Waymo employee, Anthony Levandowski, whos accused of bringing Waymos trade secrets with him when he came to work for Uber. Despite the termination, Waymos suit against Uber continues and has the potential to be damaging.
For Uber, being at the forefront of driverless technology is crucial; if it isnt, then Uber is no longer a thing, said Kalanick. Thats because theres tremendous competitive advantage in getting rid of the other dude in the car, as Kalanick put it, referring to the struggling drivers whove turned him into a billionaire.
It will now fall to Ubers next CEO to deal with this lawsuit and the other crises Kalanick is leaving behind.
* NOTE: Jeff Bezos is presumably still an investor in Uber, although neither he, Amazon nor Uber responded to emails asking for confirmation of this. Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron did respond, but said, I have no insights into his [Bezos] personal investments. Previously it was the Posts policy to frequently disclose Bezos Uber investment when covering the ride-hailing company, but now the Post seldom does. Nevertheless, Baron said theres been no change in policy.
The Morning Email
Wake up to the day's most important news.
Read the original here:
- The American Way - The Standard - September 8th, 2020
- Dave Rubin's Galaxy Brain - Splice Today - September 8th, 2020
- Is Ethereum left and Bitcoin right? Cointelegraph Magazine - Cointelegraph - September 6th, 2020
- Get Ready for the Great Urban Comeback - The Atlantic - September 6th, 2020
- Q&A: Lucas Wrench of OK #1 | The-voice | tulsapeople.com - tulsapeople.com - September 6th, 2020
- Twitter Had A Meltdown Over What 'Red Flags' To Look Out For On a Man's Bookshelf - Junkee - August 27th, 2020
- There's more than one way to deliver the mail - Newsday - August 27th, 2020
- Before Watching HBO's The Vow, Here's What You Need to Know About the NXIVM Cult - POPSUGAR - August 27th, 2020
- Who Is Keith Raniere of 'The Vow' - Where Is He Now? - Men's Health - August 27th, 2020
- Readers Are Debating Over These 7 Books And Whether They're Deadset Red Flags When Dating Men - Pedestrian TV - August 27th, 2020
- 21 Quotes That Transformed My Life and My Business - The Good Men Project - August 27th, 2020
- In Times of Crisis, Is Dystopian Media Dangerous or Inspirational? - Study Breaks - August 27th, 2020
- Get Ready for a Week of Unhinged Attacks on Biden and Harris - The Bulwark - August 27th, 2020
- Revealed: How U.S. Gov't & Hollywood Secretly Worked Together to Justify Atomic Bombings of Japan - Democracy Now! - August 10th, 2020
- California students call to remove Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher busts - Campus Reform - August 10th, 2020
- The GOP Are Standing on Trump's Sinking Ship, But Democrats Need a Vision Beyond Electing Biden - Common Dreams - August 10th, 2020
- Is Donald Trump the Republican Partys future, or its past? - Vox.com - August 10th, 2020
- Conservative Theologically, but Liberal Politically | Gene Veith - Patheos - August 10th, 2020
- Who is Jonathan Swan, the reporter who grilled Trump? And what do kangaroos have to do with it? - The Guardian - August 10th, 2020
- Shaker Heights actors to star in Zoom play: Press Run - cleveland.com - August 3rd, 2020
- Masking Authoritarianism In The Name Of Public Health - CodeBlue - August 3rd, 2020
- The Federal Reserve Works Best When It Sticks With Gold - Forbes - August 3rd, 2020
- Government Grants Loan to Libertarian-Based Ayn Rand Institute - The Great Courses Daily News - July 31st, 2020
- Rest of the Story, Pandemic Edition : Planet Money - NPR - July 31st, 2020
- Law of Integrity the Joke's on Us - India Legal - July 31st, 2020
- No. PAW Patrol Wasn't Canceled. But We Wish It Had Been - Fatherly - July 31st, 2020
- A field guide to the pandemic deniers - Salon - July 31st, 2020
- Mastodon, Tool, Coheed + Cambria, Primus Members Team on Cover of Rush's 'Anthem' - Loudwire - July 31st, 2020
- Daddy Ducey had his chance to deal with COVID; It's time to call Mom | What the Devil won't tell you - TucsonSentinel.com - July 30th, 2020
- Peter Bart: How Hollywood Learned That Mixing Politics And Art Can Turn Big Ideas Into B-Pictures - Deadline - July 30th, 2020
- The saga of the doctor versus the denier continues - Antelope Valley Press - July 30th, 2020
- Making it on your own in pandemic | Opinion - News-Press Now - July 27th, 2020
- Every generation gets 'The Baby-Sitters Club' it deserves - SFGate - July 27th, 2020
- How Amber Heard went from a small town in Texas to centre stage in Hollywood's most explosive trial yet - Evening Standard - July 27th, 2020
- A Failure Of Imagination - The Standard - July 25th, 2020
- Big problems with the Paycheck Protection Program? - The Week - July 25th, 2020
- Daily Reformer: Hagehan The First Couple Of Minnesota Politics - Patch.com - July 25th, 2020
- Passing a new stimulus measure should not be that hard - USA TODAY - July 25th, 2020
- Believe the Hype: 'Watchmen' is the TV Show of the Moment - International Policy Digest - July 25th, 2020
- Bender: The official presidential cognition test - The Dickinson Press - July 24th, 2020
- Ayn Rand - Books, Quotes & Philosophy - Biography - July 22nd, 2020
- Finally: Diamond and Silk are releasing a book - The Spectator USA - July 22nd, 2020
- The Dictatorial Impulse Behind the Shaming of PPP Recipients - New Ideal - July 21st, 2020
- Instead Of Open Or Closed, Dial Your Mind To Active - Forbes - July 21st, 2020
- When MGM and the FBI Chased 'The Father of the Atomic Bomb' - WhoWhatWhy - July 21st, 2020
- Tagore's Gora to Krishnamurthy's Ponniyin Selvan: Add these regional language books to your reading list - India Today - July 21st, 2020
- Westneat: 'Breath of liberty' and some hot air - The Columbian - July 18th, 2020
- Feather: Burrillville's actions are embarrassing - Valley Breeze - July 18th, 2020
- 'We Took PPP Funds and Would Do It Again' - New Ideal - July 14th, 2020
- Tips and Murmurs: Ayn Rand Institute gets government handout - Crikey - July 14th, 2020
- St. Joseph reaps short-lived cash infusion - News-Press Now - July 14th, 2020
- Your Illinois News Radar I'm not sure why this is being treated almost like a scandal - The Capitol Fax Blog - July 14th, 2020
- Paycheck Protection Payouts Give Taxpayers Plenty To Ponder | K. Lloyd Billingsley - The Beacon - July 14th, 2020
- Climbing aboard the PPP train | Opinion | citizensvoice.com - Wilkes-Barre Citizens Voice - July 14th, 2020
- Mississippi PPP loan recipients: See the full searchable list of who received them - Hattiesburg American - July 14th, 2020
- Indiana PPP loan recipients: See the full searchable list of who received them - Courier & Press - July 14th, 2020
- Whats the Deal With Parler and its Rising Popularity? - The Wire - July 14th, 2020
- We Talked With the Cast of 'Brave New World'! - The Mary Sue - July 14th, 2020
- What a real small business thinks of loan for Jelly Belly - Los Angeles Times - July 12th, 2020
- Local anti-tax groups find even they need big government aid sometimes - Seattle Times - July 12th, 2020
- Mississippi PPP loan recipients: See the full searchable list of who received them - Clarion Ledger - July 12th, 2020
- Coronavirus Report: The Hill's Steve Clemons interviews Randi Weingarten | TheHill - The Hill - July 12th, 2020
- Vocal Opponents Of Federal Spending Took PPP Loans, Including Ayn Rand Institute, Grover Norquist Group - Forbes - July 11th, 2020
- North Carolina PPP loan recipients: See the full searchable list of who received them - Citizen Times - July 11th, 2020
- The Ayn Rand Institute received PPP loan between $350k and $1 million - Archinect - July 10th, 2020
- Saugatuck ice cream shop denies it received or even asked for millions of federal coronavirus relief funds - Detroit Metro Times - July 10th, 2020
- Coronavirus Roundup: A Red-Hot Real Estate Market in Upstate New York - The River Newsroom - July 10th, 2020
- Ayn Rand | Biography, Books, & Facts | Britannica - July 4th, 2020
- Who Is Ayn Rand? - The Objective Standard - July 4th, 2020
- What's Wrong With Ayn Rand's Philosophy? - The Objective ... - July 4th, 2020
- What's the deal with Twitter competitor Parler? - Slate - July 4th, 2020
- B Magazine: Holly Rehder interview with B Magazine (7/3/20) - Southeast Missourian - July 4th, 2020
- LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Fail to condemn evil | On personal liberties | Give D.C.'s land back - Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - July 4th, 2020
- Bolstering Separation of Money and State Following the 244th Independence Day - Bitcoin News - July 4th, 2020
- Guest Opinion: Socialism is about government control - Opinion - The Intelligencer - July 4th, 2020
- Ayn Rand - - Biography - June 22nd, 2020
- When Tribal Journalists Try to 'Cancel' Ayn Rand (Part 2) - New Ideal - June 22nd, 2020
- The Jio-FB tie-up: Will it subliminally influence and monolpolise Indian minds? - Economic Times - June 22nd, 2020
- Shockingly, Law School Named For Affirmative Action Opponent Bad At Race And Diversity - Above the Law - June 22nd, 2020
- When Tribal Journalists Try to "Cancel" Ayn Rand (Part 1) - New Ideal - June 16th, 2020