It has been a tumultuous 2017 for Uber, from the controversy about profiting from the anti travel ban protests to sexual harassment claims and allegations of stealing self-driving car technology from Google.
Here’s a quick timeline of all the controversies of the year at Uber.
The CEO Travis Kalanick got into an argument with his Uber driver. In a dashcam video published by Bloomberg News, Kalanick was seen arguing with his Uber driver over the company’s treatment of drivers. After a conversation about policies at Uber, Kalanick ends the conversation 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!” on the video.
He has since apologised in an email sent to all employees of the company.
A senior executive at Uber, Amit Singhal, was asked to leave the company for failing to disclose a sexual harassment allegation stemming from his tenure at Alphabet Inc’s Google
Venture capitalists Mitch and Freada Kapor, early investors in Uber, publicly criticised the firm for failing to end a toxic culture of harassment. “Uber has had countless opportunities to do the right thing ,” they wrote. “We feel we have hit a dead end.”
Google-owned Waymo sued Uber for stealing its self-driving car technology. The case accuses Anthony Levandowski, a former top manager for Google’s self-driving car project, of stealing pivotal technology that is now propelling Uber’s effort to assemble a fleet of autonomous vehicles for its ride-hailing service.
It was announced that Uber had hired former US Attorney General Eric Holder to conduct a review of the sexual harassment claims. Arianna Huffington, who joined Uber’s board last year, Liane Hornsey, Uber’s chief human resources officer, and Angela Padilla, the company’s associate general counsel, were also to help conduct the review.
Many criticised this as well, wondering at the efficacy of an enquiry conducted by people from within the company.
Former Employee Susan Fowler, in an explosive revelation on her blog, claimed that she and other female staffers had been subjected to sexual harassment at Uber; and when she reported the situation to HR and upper management, all she got was indifference. She was reportedly told that nothing could be done about the Manager who she accused because he “was a high performer”.
Kalanick’s tweeted his response calling the behavior described in her blog post “abhorrent & against everything we believe in” and promised that “anyone who behaves this way or thinks this is OK will be fired.”
1/ What's described here is abhorrent & against everything we believe in. Anyone who behaves this way or thinks this is OK will be fired. https://t.co/6q29N7AL6E— travis kalanick (@travisk) February 20, 2017
CEO Travis Kalanick was forced to step down from President Donald Trump’s economic advisory council that he had joined in December, under pressure from employees who wondered why Mr. Kalanick was still willing to advise the president.
30 January 2017:
Amid the anti-travel ban protests in the USA, users began to delete the Uber app from their mobile, accusing the company of attempting to profit from a strike called by the New York City Taxi Workers Alliance. Uber is said to have turned off Surge pricing at New York’s JFK airport, even as taxi drivers registered their protest against the order by refusing to ply.
#DeleteUber began trending on Twitter as several thousand people deleted the app, and tweeted about it. CEO Travis Kalanick responded by signing an open letter to President Donald Trump that requested he rescind his executive order that temporarily banned immigrants from seven countries.