While no Silicon Valley company is without sin, Uber seems to have plumbed new depths of corporate depravity. There is so much fundamentally rotten at the company’s core that it’s nearly impossible to imagine that new-ish CEO Dara Khosrowshahi can disinfect and rehabilitate a culture gone horribly wrong.
Khosrowshahi’s tenure is already turning into an international apology tour. The latest mea culpa, of course, is that the company covered up a hack of 57 million user accounts in 2016. Hacks happen to the best of companies, alas. But failing to notify the affected account holders is grossly negligent. And paying the hackers $100,000 to keep quiet about it, according to Reuters, is simply unfathomable.
In his apology blog post, Khosrowshahi seems to have forgotten to mention the payment, which was also reported by Bloomberg.
“None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it,” Khosrowshahi wrote. “While I can’t erase the past, I can commit on behalf of every Uber employee that we will learn from our mistakes. We are changing the way we do business, putting integrity at the core of every decision we make and working hard to earn the trust of our customers.”
Khosrowshahi fired the company’s chief security officer and a deputy. The Recorder reported that the deputy was in fact in-house lawyer Craig Clark. We wonder if new Uber general counsel Tony West has reported for duty yet? Welcome to the team, Tony! Otherwise, the executive suite remains a relatively empty place these days.
This latest scandal comes as Khosrowshahi is having to grovel before London authorities to get the company’s license restored there. Regulators there don’t seem to trust Uber after years of bad faith and bullying. Surprise! That lack of trust extends to countless other jurisdictions around the world that became fed up with the take-no-prisoners tactics of disgraced former CEO Travis Kalanick.
Kalanick, you’ll recall, was forced out of his own company following a massive internal investigation regarding the company’s culture of sexual harassment. And that investigation came as the company was being sued for allegedly stealing autonomous vehicle intellectual property from Google’s Waymo unit.
Oh, gee, what else? Is it unfair to dredge up things like an executive threatening a journalist? The Uber driver that raped a passenger in India? The Greyball technology the company used to dupe regulators? Booking fake rides to disrupt its competitor Lyft? Spying on passengers using its “God View” technology?
Or Kalanick just being a jerk?
I’d keep going, but my fingers are tired.
Uber can expect a colonoscopy from regulators over the latest scandal. But why should the company get any more chances at this point? The fact that investors have pumped billions of venture capital into this morality swamp isn’t really a justification for its existence. And neither is our addiction to heavily subsidized cab rides.
I’m sure the new CEO is sincere about being sorry. At this point, I think we’re all a bit sorry for anything we did to support Uber along the way. But now the rest of us have a duty to vote with our feet and wallets by walking away from Uber and leaving it to wither and fade away.