By now, you probably have read about the comments by the Michael, the backlash and Uber’s response to the incident. If you haven’t, the following sums up what he said:
Over dinner, he outlined the notion of spending “a million dollars” to hire four top opposition researchers and four journalists. That team could, he said, help Uber fight back against the press — they’d look into “your personal lives, your families,” and give the media a taste of its own medicine.
There was a particular journalist he singled out:
Michael was particularly focused on one journalist, Sarah Lacy, the editor of the Silicon Valley website PandoDaily, a sometimes combative voice inside the industry. Lacy recently accused Uber of “sexism and misogyny.” She wrote that she was deleting her Uber app after BuzzFeed News reported that Uber appeared to be working with a French escort service. “I don’t know how many more signals we need that the company simply doesn’t respect us or prioritize our safety,” she wrote.
At the dinner, Michael expressed outrage at Lacy’s column and said that women are far more likely to get assaulted by taxi drivers than Uber drivers. He said that he thought Lacy should be held “personally responsible” for any woman who followed her lead in deleting Uber and was then sexually assaulted.
Then he returned to the opposition research plan. Uber’s dirt-diggers, Michael said, could expose Lacy. They could, in particular, prove a particular and very specific claim about her personal life.
After receiving the strong backlash after his comments were made public, this is what Michael had to say:
The remarks attributed to me at a private dinner — borne out of frustration during an informal debate over what I feel is sensationalistic media coverage of the company I am proud to work for — do not reflect my actual views and have no relation to the company’s views or approach. They were wrong no matter the circumstance and I regret them.
How can he make a statement and then go on to say that they do not reflect his views? I don’t buy that.
Especially not from someone who would say this:
At the Waverly Inn dinner, it was suggested that a plan like the one Michael floated could become a problem for Uber.
Michael responded: “Nobody would know it was us.”
Does that sound frightening to you? If you are unaware, any Uber employee is able to track your location using an internal tool called God View. Do they do it on the assumption that nobody would know they are doing it?
So how did the Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick respond to all this?
He then goes on to tweet about values and Uber’s commitment to the community. But nothing close to an apology. Don’t even expect Michael to be fired. Someone who “showed a lack of leadership, a lack of humanity, and a departure from [Uber’s] values and ideals” will remain a senior executive because “his duties here at Uber do not involve communications strategy or plans and are not representative in any way of the company approach.”
I’m not sure about you but I would be very cautious when it comes to using the services of a company that has shown no respect for the privacy of its customers.
Michael suggested vengeance and investor Ashton Kutcher defends it by calling the journalist ‘shady’ with no facts to back his claim.
Uber needs to understand that it is not simply about how good a service you provide. Your ethics and integrity is as important as the quality of services rendered.