Uber, the ride hailing service, is going through a lot of problems right now. It has recently been a lot on news, and for all the bad reasons!
A Little About Uber
Uber is an online transport network company. It operates in 528 cities. It lets users order a taxi or food using their mobile devices or computer. Anyone with a car in a good condition can signup on Uber and become a driver for some extra cash. Uber is the leader in sharing economy.
It was founded in 2009 as ‘UberCab’ by Garret Camp and Travis Kalanick. In addition to taxis and rikshaws, you can also order helicopter and boat rides in some countries.
Just like any company that grows too much, too fast, Uber got into a lot of problems. It has been into a lot of lgal problems, and faced a lot of protests. But the last few days were exceptionally bad for them.
Here is a summary of some of the problems they have been facing lately:
- Toxic Culture
The last thing any employees want is an aggressive workplace environment. Uber has 14 core values, like being obsessed with those you serve, to hustle, and meritocracy. And guess who were they inspired by to come up with these core values? Amazon! While Amazon is surely one of the best tech companies around, they have also come under fire for not caring about employees.
Anyhow, so they environment at the workplace is pretty Hobbesian, i.e. repeated attacks om each other in fear of an imminent attack. Messed up right? Sexual harassment is also pretty rampant. In fact, a distraught female employee, Susan Fowler shed light on the toxic culture in her blog post. She said she had been a victim of discrimination and sexual harassment and the Human Resource department did not respond to her complains.
Her post prompted other employees to come forward with their own stories and also led to media scrutiny!
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2. #DeleteUber Campaign
Protests were organized at airports across America after Trump banned the entry of people from 7 Muslim majority countries. The New York Taxi Workers Alliance asked its members to avoid John F Kennedy Airport for an hour. After this, Uber said that surge pricing (increased pricing at busy hours) has been suspended near JFK.
This was scene as an attempt by Uber to break the strike and it was not received well by people. So #DeleteUber started trending.
Many people vowed to never use Uber again, and announced their plans to use their rival, Lyft instead.
They responded by saying that their intention was not to break the strike.
3. Resignation of SVP of engineering, Amit Singhai
Uber’s CEO, Travis Kalanick asked Singhai to leave after his failure to disclose a sexual harassment accusation made against him at his ex employer Google. At that time Singhai denied those reports and said he has retired.
4. Refusal to register autonomous car program with the state
Uber introduced self driving car in San Francisco amid a lot of fanfare. They refused to obtain a $150 permit in California to test the driver-less cars. They moved the fleet to Arizona instead to avoid scrutiny.
5. Dash Cam Video
As if this was not enough, their CEO was recorded on a camera misbehaving with an employee. They were having an argument about taxi fares. The CEO lost his cool, and lashed out at the driver. All of this was recorded by a camera, and it was made viral soon.
After he was criticized for his actions, Travis apologized and admitted his mistakes. Too little, too late?
It was revealed that they use a secret program known as Greyball to avoid being noticed by government regulators. Uber says that it uses this program to avoid people who might use their services inappropriately and cause mischief.
Uber’s competitor, Lyft was quick to take advantage of it’s misfortune. They condemned Trump’s ban on Muslim majority countries. They also began raising more money, which is bad news for Uber.
Seem’s like Uber is in serious need of organizational reforms. The top leadership needs to get its act together and bring some serious reforms. Uber has managed to do very well, it must not let stupid mistakes destroy all that it has built over the years. People have a pretty short term memory, and if Uber sorts it all out as soon as possible, chances are that its reputation will not be affected. Otherwise, it might go into downward spiral.
Will Uber destroy itself or rise like a phoenix? What are your thoughts? Have you ever used it? Let us know in the comments below!