Apologies for Uber pile up as CEO caught in security camera footage rant

1 Mar 2017

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. Image: TechCrunch/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The list of public apologies from Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has become even longer, after he was caught losing his temper with one of the company’s drivers on a security camera.

Investors at Uber are likely to be none too pleased at yet another public scandal for the ride-hailing giant involving the company’s CEO, Travis Kalanick.

According to Bloomberg, an Uber driver named Fawzi Kamel picked up Kalanick and two friends in February, but little did they know that Kamel had installed a security camera in his car, in case of any issues when picking up passengers.

‘Every year is a hard year’

In the video given to Bloomberg, Kalanick is shown talking with his two friends who say to him that they heard Uber was having a bad year.

In response, Kalanick fended off any worries for the company by saying that he is making sure “every year is a hard year. If it’s easy, I’m not pushing hard enough.”

Kalanick then discussed this with Kamel, who raised issues with the Uber CEO over the fare price for him and other drivers over the past few years.

“But people are not trusting you anymore,” Kamel said. “I lost $97,000 because of you. I’m bankrupt because of you … You keep changing every day.”

After some back and forth, Kalanick ended the conversation with the driver by saying: “Some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own shit. They blame everything in their life on somebody else. Good luck!”

‘I need leadership help’

In a statement, Kalanick apologised for his choice of words and actions: “To say that I am ashamed is an extreme understatement.”

“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,” he said.

“This is the first time I’ve been willing to admit that I need leadership help and I intend to get it.”

This incident cements a shaky start to 2017 for Uber that, just a few days ago, found its subsidiary Otto in the middle of a lawsuit with Alphabet’s Waymo over its autonomous vehicle technology.

Prior to that, Kalanick had to come out and promise that the company would fire any staff found to be guilty of sexual harassment in the workplace, which quickly resulted in its SVP of engineering being fired for not disclosing a previous allegation.

In January, thousands of drivers protested Uber’s decision to suspend surge pricing during a protest against US president Donald Trump’s immigration ban, resulting in a mass boycott of the service and Kalanick’s resignation from Trump’s advisory board.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. Image: TechCrunch/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic