SAN FRANCISCO — Uber’s “baller” culture may have reached the end of the road.
CEO Travis Kalanick’s controversial history of flouting regulations and aggressively fighting the competition has in a mere eight years pushed the company to a $70 billion valuation, about $15 billion more than General Motors.
But now he is facing what may be his biggest crisis yet: Accusations of sexism that compound years of indications that an unchecked, hyper-alpha culture made Uber an uncomfortable place for many women to work.
On the heels of the #DeleteUber customer backlash for its initial cooperation with the Trump administration and response to the immigration ban, the startup that aims to remake transportation is taking fire from investors and the public over explosive allegations of sexist and discriminatory behavior.
Among the charges leveled in a detailed February 19 blog post by former engineer Susan Fowler: That Uber’s human resources department refused to discipline Fowler’s manager after he made sexual advances, even though he had harassed other women, and that Fowler was told to expect a poor performance review if she stayed on the team.
Fowler left Uber in December to join digital payments company Stripe. But her troubles may not be over. On Friday, Fowler asked her Twitter followers not to disclose any personal information about her if contacted, saying a smear campaign appeared to be underway.
“Uber is in no way involved. This behavior is wrong,” the company said in a statement.
But the charge has echoes of comments made by high-ranking Uber executive, Emil Michael, who stirred outrage in 2014 when he suggested Uber should investigate journalists who did not write favorably about the company… see more