Uh Oh: Uber CEO Travis Kalanick Surreptitiously Videotaped Arguing With a Driver

The last thing Uber needs is more negative attention, especially after the story about having a hostile workplace towards women. But it looks like they’re going to get some.

Uber’s CEO was surreptitiously taped taking a Uber Black on Superbowl Sunday. The video begins with Travis Kalanick in the middle seat with two female companions on either side.

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.”

As the ride ends, the driver introduces himself and starts an argument with Kalanick over falling prices and reduced income to drivers. Kalanick challenges some of the driver’s claims, and after a couple of minutes ends the conversation, “Some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own […] they blame everything in their life on somebody else. Good luck.” And then he gets out of the car.

Prices have fallen since the driver began. Many drivers formed expectations based on pricing that wasn’t ever committed to them would stay the same. Kalanick isn’t wrong that the market is competitive. While he’s friendly at first, and clearly being ambushed, he comes across as.. a jerk.

(HT: The Winglet)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I wouldn’t call the recording surreptitious. Almost all the Ubers I’ve ridden have a dash cam. But yeah, Kalanick seems like a prick

  2. “Prices have fallen since the driver began.” — unclear to me whether this is accurate. Base prices have fallen, sure, but have surge prices gained prevalence?

  3. @Jason no, surge prices have stayed the same or decreased. I live in Houston, drive for uber part time, even drove for the super bowl. Price per mile had dropped. For busy times like super bowl, drivers from outside the state were brought in, minimalizing surge.

    But uber did just raise their booking fees not Houston by $.35. All of that goes to them. For a time, even ALL of the cancelation fee was going to them.

    Uber is a dirt bag company, operated by dirt bags. And it’s like a dirty little secret that everyone knows, but doesn’t talk about. It’s like buying the tennis shoes you love but knowing they’re made in a sweat shop by little kids.

    The government officials know the plight of the driver, but they dont care as long as they collect their fees and taxs…and they get the reward of fewer drunk drivers. The passengers dont care, because they got a faster, cleaner ride. With less weight time and a cheaper price. And of course, uber gets theirs (in houston, $2.35 booking fee +28%) and if a driver doesn’t like it, to bad.

    It’s not hard to be honest and moral. But hey, maybe for this company it is.

  4. Uber’s total disregard for local laws when they entered various markets is indicative of the company’s leadership and culture. They are not “disrupting”, they are just a**holes.

  5. “Some people don’t take responsibility…they blame everything on someone else”.

    Just like the President. And just like Uber.

  6. Uber has an amazing capability of being jerks. They have stepped in it continually with bad press and angry drivers. I refuse to use them except when desperate overseas where another option is unavailable. I just returned from Milan where the Uber prices are insanely high and make no sense compared to clean and efficient taxis that will accept credit cards. Domestically, LYFT is a better option as tips make a significant difference to the drivers. All in all, the shared ride business model is not driver friendly. Drivers are spending more than they realize in operating costs including depreciation of their vehicles. They are often not making money, but just taking a “payday loan” from the equity in their vehicle. Very, very few shared ride drivers can actually net much.

  7. I don’t know much about Kalanick, except people don’t seem to like him (and Uber, by extension). I can only speak as a consumer. I very much appreciate the lower-cost rides I’m able to get through Uber. I know there are many deeply-entrenched taxi companies that have formed a cartel through the political process, and this has benefitted medallion (taxi license) owners to the tune of millions of dollars.

    I welcome the opening up of government-protected industries, and I commend Uber for doing much of the heavy-lifting on this front. Perhaps Uber isn’t good for drivers, but that problem will resolve itself when drivers flock to Lyft, Sidecar and the many other competitors out there.

  8. Maybe it’s time for me to “take responsibility” by switching my ride-hiring to Lyft, given that Uber has cut the earning of Starwood points in half AND totally eliminated giving ThanksAgain.com points for rides starting Feb. 1, after starting to do so on Oct. 1/ 2016.
    PS, Mr. Kalanick: There’s nothing wrong with “blaming others” when those others are to blame! The only “responsibility” the rest of us have is to kick them out of our lives!

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