Uber seems to have constantly had drama and controversy surrounding the brand since it’s inception. This week is no exception, except that this time it is comments from an executive that have people all fired up. The question becomes, does the end user care enough about the comments made by the executive team enough to impact their decision on whether or not to use the service?
This past weekend I spoke with a small group, of whom only 2 of 10 even knew about Uber. That probably indicates that they haven’t heard the controversy either. Uber’s service in general is controversial, but so are unlicensed cabs, which are present in every major city. Those who are pro-Uber may argue that at least the Uber drivers are signed up with and monitored by Uber, unlike the random dude sitting in a Civic and enticing the inebriated into his ‘cab.’ (I’m not judging here, as I’ve taken unlicensed taxis in multiple cities, luckily never having had an issue.)
From city governments to taxi coalitions, there has always been some pushback as Uber, and competitors like Lyft, grow in market share and popularity, significantly impacting the volume of riders that taxies are picking up.
This week an editor at Buzzfeed wrote an article explaining that he was invited to a dinner that included Emil Michael, Senior Vice President of Business, as well as Uber CEO and founder Travis Kalanick. Throughout the dinner Michael stated that to combat some of the negative press that the company has received they could potentially hire an opposition research team who would be able to dig up dirt on the journalists who are their most passionate critics.
This was apparently directed primarily at Pando Daily editor Sarah Lacy, who recently wrote an article stating that she was deleting the Uber App due the fact that an Uber promotion stated that it it was possible to hire an Uber driver who is a ‘hot chick’. In her article, ‘The horrific trickle down of Asshole culture,’ she states that the company does not respect women or prioritize their safety.
But this sexism and misogyny is something different and scary. Women drive Ubers and ride in them. I don’t know how many more signals we need that the company simply doesn’t respect us or prioritize our safety
Regardless of how you may feel about this particular promotion and how it reflects on Uber, this particular new controversy of conducting opposition research on journalists brings up another, separate issue. I have often wondered why the general public feels entitled to know the most intimate details of the lives of public figures, whether politicians, actors or CEOs, but journalists are typically left out of the publicizing of personal information.
But maybe we should consider the fact that today’s incredible outrage from the journalistic community shows that there is sometimes a sense of ‘do as I say and not as I do.’ I’m not saying that it should become common practice, rather I’d lean toward the opposite realm and encourage journalists to, at least occasionally, consider the fact maybe it would be okay if writing articles and making public statements that could be equated to political attack ads took a back seat to writing unbiased content.