Uber CEO Travis Kalanick felt compelled to send an apology to the roughly 11,000 employees at his company after a video obtained by Bloomberg shows him getting in a heated argument with one of his drivers.
“By now I’m sure you’ve seen the video where I treated an Uber driver disrespectfully,” Kalanick wrote in an official apology published on Uber’s website. “To say that I am ashamed is an extreme understatement.”
The driver, Fawzi Kamel, decided to spark up a conversation with the bigwig of Uber, who is also technically his employer. Kamel has been driving for Uber since 2011, when the company was a fraction of the size it is today, and he took the opportunity with the boss to share his thoughts on how he thinks the company could have been run better.
“You’re raising the standards, and you’re dropping the prices,” Kamel asserts, arguing that the cost of rides is too cheap.
“We have to; we have competitors. Otherwise, we’d go out of business,” Kalanick replies. The CEO evidently feels that competitors like Lyft and other smaller startups could have taken over the market if Uber didn’t attempt to undercut their prices.
“Competitors? Man, you had the business model in your hands. You could have the prices you want, but you choose to buy everybody a ride,” Kamel continued.
Kalanick disagrees, saying that at first they could charge more for rides, but that eventually going out of business was a possibility.
“What? Lyft? It’s a piece of cake right there,” Kamel retorted.
“It seems like a piece of cake because I’ve beaten them. But if I didn’t do the things I did, we would have been beaten, I promise,” Kalanick explains in a slightly boastful manner.
The conversation, though, soon went from constructive and analytical, to personal and acrimonious.
“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,” Kamel said somewhat angrily.
After some more back and forth, Kalanick calls “bullshit” on Kamel’s claims.
“You know what? Some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own shit. They blame everything in their life on somebody else. Good luck!” Kalanick says while exiting the car.
“Good luck to you too! But I know [you’re not] going to go far,” Kamel says.
As is protocol for Uber’s mobile app, both the rider and driver rate one another on the services provided and the respective behaviors. Kamel decided to give Kalanick one star, according to Bloomberg.
“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,” Kalanick wrote in his apology. “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.”
Kalanick and Uber have suffered a number of setbacks and controversies in the past year, and especially months.
Susan J. Fowler, a former female engineer for Uber, wrote a highly disturbing and incredibly creepy account of her time at the company, specifically accusations of sexual harassment and subsequent unfair treatment. (RELATED: Uber Dismisses Vice President For Omitting History Of Alleged Sexual Harassment)
After being inspired by her going public, over a hundred female employees reportedly met with Kalanick and told him that sexism at the company was “systemic” and not unique to Fowler. (RELATED: Is This Anonymous App Helping Fuel An Insurrection At Uber?)
The reports of unfair treatment and workplace misconduct seemed to snowball after more than 30 former and current staffers went to The New York Times with allegations of a cutthroat culture and rampant lewd behavior.
Kalanick essentially told his employees not to worry since he was having four people who currently or once worked for the company investigating the allegations, including former Attorney General Eric Holder and Arianna Huffington of the eponymous news outlet The Huffington Post. (RELATED: Investors Not Happy To See Holder, Huffington Investigating Uber)
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