Uber isn’t having a great month, with one of its top executives forced to resign recently after a widely read open letter revealed the sexism and harassment inherent in the company’s structure. (This, after CEO Travis Kalanick was basically shamed out of a post on one of Donald Trump’s presidential advisory councils by riders threatening to boycott the ride-sharing company.) Now, Kalanick is back in the spotlight, with Bloomberg unearthing footage of him getting into a heated argument with one of his own drivers earlier this month, a discussion that culminated in Kalanick calling the man’s arguments “bullshit,” and declaring, “Some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own shit. They blame everything in their life on somebody else. Good luck!”
The argument (which starts at roughly 3:50 in the above video) broke out as Kalanick was exiting the driver’s car, which operates as part of the company’s luxury Black service. The driver—Fawzi Kamel—accused Kalanick of raising standards and lowering prices for the luxury vehicles, and ultimately of bankrupting him. As caught by the car’s onboard camera, Kalanick became irate, questioning the man’s assertions before laying out his bout of up-by-his bootstraps tech billionaire wisdom.
Kalanick has now apologized, issuing a statement to all Uber employees.
By now I’m sure you’ve seen the video where I treated an Uber driver disrespectfully. To say that I am ashamed is an extreme understatement. My job as your leader is to lead…and that starts with behaving in a way that makes us all proud. That is not what I did, and it cannot be explained away.
It’s clear this video is a reflection of me—and the criticism we’ve received is a stark reminder that I must fundamentally change as a leader and grow up. This is the first time I’ve been willing to admit that I need leadership help and I intend to get it.
I want to profoundly apologize to Fawzi, as well as the driver and rider community, and to the Uber team.
It’s not clear whether Kamel has responded to the apology by editing the one-star review he left for Kalanick for the trip.