My first post for this blog was about Uber and its recent controversies. A lot has happened at Uber since that time:
- The #deleteUber hashtag has pretty slowed down but it looks like it worked largely. According to unconfirmed and unsubstantiated sources at Uber, about half a million users have requested for deletion of their accounts. Kerry Flynn at Mashable gives an interesting analysis #DeleteUber vs Deleted Uber
- On the issue of his misbehavior with an Uber driver, Mr. Fawzi Krmal, Uber’s CEO Mr. Kalanick sent an email to all Uber employees saying, “This is the first time I’ve been willing to admit that I need leadership help and I intend to get it.” He went on to formally apologize saying that “I want to profoundly apologize to Fawzi, as well as the driver and rider community, and to the Uber team.” Uber shared this email on Uber’s official blog.
- The issue that became a rolling snowball was of the charges of sexual harassment and Uber’s culture. Some of the top executives have recently left Uber for va
rious personal reasons. It cannot be easily ascertained if they left on their own or were fired. The list of executives leaving Uber recently include:
- Uber president Jeff Jones left the company earlier, just six months after joining. He oversaw global operations, marketing and customer service, including drivers.
- VP of maps and business platform, Brian McClendon, left Uber on march 28 to “explore politics.”
- Earlier engineering executive Amit Singhal was asked to resign due to a sexual harassment allegation stemming from his previous job. He was heading Uber’s engineering department that employed Susan J. Fowler who posted the sexual harassment charges on her blog for the first time.
- Gary Marcus, Uber AI Labs director
- Raffi Krikorian, sr. director, engineering, Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center
- Charlie Miller, senior engineer of Uber’s autonomous driving division
- Ed Baker, Uber’s vice president of product and growth.
The latest casualty of the crisis has been Rachel Whetstone, the company’s head of policy and communications since 2015. Rachel, who steered the company’s communications during some of its worst crises, is leaving Uber for “time off with family”. Internal sources say that she had various disagreements with Mr. Kalanick over Uber’s crisis communication strategies. Jill Hazelbaker, who worked with Rachel at Google and joined Uber in 2015 from Snapchat, is going to replace her.
Although people move around jobs very frequently in the Silicon Valley, this mass exodus of Uber’s human resource can point towards major steps for upheaval in the company and a major restructuring of Uber’s business model and culture.
One thing is for sure. The ghosts are not going away. Uber has taken some steps in the right direction by firing the people responsible for this mess. But, it would take a herculean PR task to save Uber and its image.