Uber has been in a lot of hot water lately, between the company’s CEO being on Trump’s business advisory council, allegations of sexism at Uber’s headquarters, and much more. In the past several weeks the #DeleteUber hashtag has been the top trending topic on many social platforms. Well, I imagine the video that just emerged of Uber’s CEO getting into an argument with a driver during a Superbowl Sunday ride won’t make the situation any better.
A video has been released of Uber’s CEO, Travis Kalanick, taking a ride with two girls, and then getting in an argument with the driver towards the end. You can see the video below, though I’d recommend just watching the last two minutes.
In the first several minutes you just hear Travis talking to the girls. Per Bloomberg:
On this particular night in early February—Super Bowl Sunday—Kalanick is perched in the middle seat, flanked by two female friends. Maroon 5’s “Don’t Wanna Know” plays, and Kalanick shimmies. He clutches his smartphone as the three make awkward conversation. The two women ask when his birthday is, and marvel that he’s a Leo. One of his companions appears to say, somewhat inaudibly, that she’s heard that Uber is having a hard year. Kalanick retorts, “I make sure every year is a hard year.” He continues, “That’s kind of how I roll. I make sure every year is a hard year. If it’s easy I’m not pushing hard enough.”
But then as he’s about to exit the car, the driver confronts him over falling fares, and the impact it’s having on his work. He claims he lost $97,000 due to Travis. That’s where the video below starts:
For those of you don’t want to watch the video, here’s a rough transcript of what goes down, per Bloomberg:
“I don’t know if you remember me, but it’s fine,” Kamel says. The pair begin talking shop, and Kalanick explains that they’re going to cut down on the number of black cars, which will reduce competition and should be good for Kamel.
Then Kamel says what every driver has been dying to tell Kalanick: “You’re raising the standards, and you’re dropping the prices.”
Kalanick: “We’re not dropping the prices on black.”
Kamel: “But in general the whole price is—”
Kalanick: “We have to; we have competitors; otherwise, we’d go out of business.”
Kamel: “Competitors? Man, you had the business model in your hands. You could have the prices you want, but you choose to buy everybody a ride.”
Kalanick: “No, no no. You misunderstand me. We started high-end. We didn’t go low-end because we wanted to. We went low-end because we had to because we’d be out of business.”
Kamel: “What? Lyft? It’s a piece of cake right there.”
Kalanick: “It seems like a piece of cake because I’ve beaten them. But if I didn’t do the things I did, we would have been beaten, I promise.”
The two bat that idea around, and Kamel brings the conversation back to his losses.
Kamel: “But people are not trusting you anymore. … I lost $97,000 because of you. I’m bankrupt because of you. Yes, yes, yes. You keep changing every day. You keep changing every day.”
Kalanick: “Hold on a second, what have I changed about Black? What have I changed?”
Kamel: “You changed the whole business. You dropped the prices.”
Kalanick: “On black?”
Kamel: “Yes, you did.”
Kalanick begins to lose his temper. “Bullshit,” he says.
Kamel: “We started with $20.”
Kamel: “We started with $20. How much is the mile now, $2.75?”
Kalanick: “You know what?”
Kalanick: “Some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own shit. They blame everything in their life on somebody else. Good luck!”
Kamel: “Good luck to you, but I know [you’re not] going to go far.”
Travis actually comes across as reasonably level-headed towards the beginning of their conversation, but as it continues he lets his temper get the best of him. You’d think he’d be on his best behavior in Ubers, but that doesn’t seem to stop him from losing his cool. I actually don’t totally disagree with some of his points, but you’d think he’d view this as an opportunity to have a dialogue, rather than just telling the driver to pound sand.
Beyond that, Travis just comes across as a prick all around. Not specific to the conversation with the driver, but is he really trying to impress the girls by talking about how he “makes sure every year is a hard year.” Really?
(Tip of the hat to The Winglet)