Just when Uber thought it might be finished with what has been a truly terrible month of news for the company — (deep breath) allegations of rampant sexism and gender discrimination, a lawsuit over reportedly stolen technology, the forced resignation of a top exec over sexual harassment — a new video has surfaced showing the company’s CEO, Travis Kalanick, heatedly arguing with a driver whose car he was riding in. “Some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own shit,” Kalanick says, before slamming the car door at the video’s most dramatic moment. “They blame everything in their life on somebody else. Good luck!”
The video, published today by Bloomberg, was filmed via a dashboard camera in an Uber black car driven by a driver named Fawzi Kamel. Kamel has been driving for Uber since 2011, Bloomberg reports, and gave Kalanick (and several women) a lift on Super Bowl Sunday. At the beginning of the video, Kalanick and the two women in the backseat make small talk about Kalanick’s birthday and rumors that Uber had a hard year. “I make sure every year is a hard year. If it’s easy, I’m not pushing hard enough,” Kalanick says. Once the two women get out, Kamel engages Kalanick, asking if the CEO remembers meeting him before. When Kalanick begins to tell him why Uber’s plan to cut down on the number of black cars on the road will be good for Kamel’s bottom line, the driver pushes back.
“You’re raising the standards, and you’re dropping the prices,” he says. Kalanick tells him that these changes are what keeps Uber competitive, but Kamel argues otherwise. He claims fares for Uber black cars used to be higher, and says that has cost him. “How much is the mile now, $2.75?” (As noted by Bloomberg, rates for Uber Black drivers have significantly decreased over the years, from $4.90 a mile in 2012 to $3.75 today — a dollar above the figure Kamel cites, but still significantly lower than the original prices.) Kalanick calls this “bullshit.” Actually, he calls it “bullshit” twice. At this point, Kalanick loses his temper with Kamel. “Some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own shit. They blame everything in their life on somebody else. Good luck,” he says before getting out of the car.
“Good luck to you, but I know you’re not going to go far,” Kamel fires back as Kalanick exits.
Update 03/01/17: Following the video revelation, Kalanick sent an email to his entire staff, which he also posted to Uber’s blog, entitled “A Profound Apology.” He says he is deeply “ashamed” and that his actions “cannot be explained away.” Kalanick also writes that he will be seeking help to make him a better leader. From Uber:
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.
Kalanick is 40.