The horrific-trickle down of asshole culture at a company like Uber
Geege Schuman stashed this in Uber
We shared this in our News Ticker already, but I still can’t believe that an office of Uber — a company valued at $18 billion and held up as a bastion of modern entrepreneurship — posted an ad that encouraged, played on, and celebrated treating women who may chose to drive cars to make extra money like hookers.
As a woman in this industry struggling mightily with growing sexism in tech demonstrated by people like Uber founder Travis Kalanick, it felt like a punch to the stomach. I didn’t actually think Uber could shock me anymore. I was wrong.
I’ve spent weeks since my 6,000-word rant on Silicon Valley assholes having private conversations with the VCs who fund them. Almost none has argued with the premise of my story. But what some have argued is that those who are able to start great companies are a breed apart: misfits who we can’t expect to conform to normal behavior. Kalanick’s investors in particular (many of whom, incidentally, Pando shares) have told me that his same bad-boy behavior and arrogance is the only reason he was able to run headlong into the buzzsaw of dozens of powerful taxi lobbies.
I’ve never had much of an issue with Kalanick’s hard charging competitive nature or libertarian beliefs. 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.
Time to delete Uber.
Here’s what I told investors the last few weeks when we’ve had this debate: You can certainly invest based only on the place you expect to find maximum return. That’s your job and your prerogative. But when it comes to the mounting misogyny in the tech world, you can’t sit on stage at industry events and say you care deeply about the state of women in the startup world and silently support assholes like these. You simply can’t have it both ways. And I’m going to be there to call it out, whether anyone listens or not. I’m particularly disappointed with Uber investors like Sherpa’s Shervin Pishevar or Jason Calacanis who I know well, have supported Kalanick’s antics, and have young daughters. They should care. They should be horrified.
So, I’m turning that advice on myself: I’ve finally deleted Uber from my phone. For one thing, I increasingly don’t feel safe as a woman taking it, frequently late at night and alone. I’ve got a good solid alternative in Lyft, and life is too precious for me to put mine at risk.
Travis sexually harassed a friend of mine who was working there and she ended up quitting. I don't use uber.
Thanks for letting us know, Christina.
I'm curious to know if ANY amount of bad publicity will hurt Uber.
The misogyny of these founders appears to be an outgrowth of a more deeply rooted lack of empathy. People fall on a spectrum in their ability to empathize. Sociopaths, have either no or next to no empathy. But that very lack enables them to take actions that empathics either can't or find very difficult. Sociopaths often have no moral qualms. Anything that stands in the way of their personal vision is worthy only of destruction. That can make them effective in dismantling sacred cows and entrenched interests. But they'll behave that way toward any sacred cow or interest they don't hold, because it places limitations on their behavior. I think it's very important to ask the question, just how wise is it to invest in these kinds of people? What happens when these guys get rich? What are they going to do with all that money?
They buy islands and sports teams and stuff like that.
Of course you and I don't think it's wise to invest in such people.
What's sad, of course, is that other rich people WANT to invest in such people.
I wish they only bought islands. Look at the Koch brothers... they "own" state legislatures. Of course the ironic and sad part is sociopathic greed and lack of empathy leads to social decay. As ever fewer own ever more, it hollows out the foundation of society, which is made of the people who work, not the people whose money works for them. Of course, who knows how that will change if true AI ever comes to pass. To be honest, I'm not confident it will be used to benefit the majority given the sociopathic tendencies of so many tech entrepreneurs.
At some point it goes too far and society takes back. Society still has the numbers.