PHOTO: Uber CEO Travis Kalanick faces yet another controversy. (Photo via Flickr/ OFFICIAL LEWEB PHOTOS)
Having an altercation with an Uber driver isn’t exactly a newsworthy event. It’s something that happens practically every day. But rarely does it happen with the CEO of the ridesharing giant in the backseat.
Uber chief Travis Kalanick is being taken to task over a troubling video that shows him getting into a heated debate with a driver who works for the service.
Kalanick can be seen in the video posted below, manspreading in the middle seat of a February ride taken at some point on Super Bowl Sunday.
Once the ride ends, 37-year-old Fawzi Kamel asks the CEO about some of the policies that have made it difficult for some drivers to make a living while working as contractors for Uber.
What begins as a cordial exchange ends with Kalanick answering Kamel’s charges with “Bull****” a couple times before exclaiming: “Some people don't like to take responsibility for their own [expletive]. They blame everything in their life on somebody else. Good luck!”
The door is shut and Kamel goes on with his night, later taking that dashcam video and giving it to Bloomberg, which has since reported on the altercation and posted the video.
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Kalanick and his company have taken a great deal of fire over the last few months.
The hashtag #DeleteUber began in earnest after the company dropped prices around the area and time of a taxi strike.
In January, it settled an FTC claim to the tune of $20 million. And, most recently, Uber vowed to launch an extensive investigation into claims of sexual harassment taking place in the company.
As for his run-in with Kamel, Kalanick has emailed employees an apology for his behavior.
The email, posted by Bloomberg, reads: “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.”
The plight of Uber drivers continues to become a more recognized aspect of the industry. Back in January, the fact that many drivers decide to sleep in their cars or rent motel rooms became part of a Bloomberg report.
A couple weeks later, Uber drivers in New York City went on strike precisely to bring plummeting fares to the attention of officials and prospective riders.
At the very top of the heap is a CEO who comes across as grossly out of touch with the economic pain suffered by its most valuable asset, the thousands of drivers who make this company what it is.
Without them, you just have a very nice looking app that hails drivers who no longer come.