TIME Business

Execs Like Emil Michael Don’t Hate Women—They’re Terrified of Them

Emil Michael senior vice president of business for Uber Technologies Inc. stands for a photograph after a Bloomberg Television interview in San Francisco on July 29, 2014.
Emil Michael senior vice president of business for Uber Technologies Inc. stands for a photograph after a Bloomberg Television interview in San Francisco on July 29, 2014. Paul Morris—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Laura Kipnis is the author of Men: Notes from an Ongoing Investigation.

Uber mensches they are not—they're simply scared, and women should not contribute to their power

In Neil LaBute’s coruscating black comedy In the Company of Men, two reptilian male executives concoct a scheme to deceive and emotionally humiliate a vulnerable deaf secretary who works at the branch office they’ve been temporarily assigned to. The plan is to shower her with attention, get her to fall in love with both of them, then simultaneously drop her. Why? Because they can. Because they’re angry at women. Because they think women have power over them.

Over the last few days we witnessed a scenario that could have been authored by LaBute, our bard of misogyny, play out in real life, a terrific satire about corporate America, sexual swaggering and contemporary masculine angst, improvised by a couple of executives at Uber. Yes, in case you haven’t heard, another male in a position of power has created another dungstorm by making ill-considered remarks in a public setting; the usual swell of public indignation has ensued.

“His remarks showed a lack of leadership, a lack of humanity, and a departure from our values and ideals,” tweeted Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, about Emil Michael, his senior vice president of business. Kalanick was referring to threats Michael issued at a dinner attended by a number of prominent journalists, involving a harebrained plan to do opposition research aimed at Uber-critical journalists. He was going to dig up dirt on their personal lives, their families, and give the media a taste of its own medicine. Michael later said he thought the dinner was off the record, and that he was just venting, not serious.

Why am I so much less outraged than everyone seems to be about the story? To begin with, who ever thought such guys were role models for enlightened masculinity anyway? Social responsibility? Come on. New corporations and start-ups come and go these days in a flurry of mergers, acquisitions and rebranding, in it for a quick payday. They owe no one anything—not in their eyes, anyway. The Great Recession was brought to us by just such swashbucklers, who still believe they earn their unconscionable incomes by taking insane risks with other people’s money and turning the economy into a casino. Ever since Reagan, corporate America’s indifference to any value other than profits has been writ large in their refusal to pay their fair share of taxes. They’re not role models for anyone other than pirates.

The mistake is to regard Uber and its execs are though they’re the exception to something. Indifference to customers? Sounds like the airlines. Silicon Valley corporate greed? It pales compared to Wall Street corporate greed. Misogynist mud-throwing aimed at a threatening woman? Consider the ongoing and deeply ugly Republican war on Hillary Clinton.

In this case it was one woman in particular— Sarah Lacy, editor of the Silicon Valley website PandoDaily—who was the special target of Michael’s animus. Lacy has repeatedly taken Uber to task for what she calls the company’s outrageous sexism, including CEO Kalanick’s boasts that he gets so much “tail” since starting Uber that the company should really be called “Boober.”

Her response to hearing about Michael’s dinner-party threats, Lacy has recently written, was a shocked sense of her own vulnerability, and fears for her children’s well-being. She imagined them at home in their kitten and dinosaur pajamas and felt terror.

The pajamas are a nice touch (heartstrings tugged!). But what Lacy neglects to say is that she has these guys running scared. They’re afraid of her. Lacy should be taking a victory lap. Her opponents are acting like “scared little girls” in the current idiom—they’re simply masking it behind a lot of macho posturing. Which is exactly what most macho posturing generally comes down to: fear of one sort or another. And pathos. And, vulnerability, real or imaginary. We have a habit of forgetting that.

Let me say something else that might be controversial. I’m rather intrigued by Kalanick’s references to how much sex he’s getting just because he’s Uber’s CEO. Here’s another hard truth of the sort that Neil LaBute is so good at exposing: As much as some women protest the kind of misogynist culture that Uber apparently exemplifies, there are plenty of other women who eroticize male power and wish to bask in its aura, even when it comes packaged in buffoonish and objectionable forms. This is a contradiction worth examining. Women, too, play a contributing role in upholding the conditions that also abject us, something we’re in the habit of forgetting.

Memo to the “tail” of which Kalanick speaks: Ladies! You can do better.

For my part, I’d far rather hear what guys like Michael say when behind closed doors than carefully burnished platitudes from some PR firm. When people go off-message, or mistakenly think they’re off the record, or un-mic’ed (don’t forget Mitt Romney uttered the fatal “47%” line when he thought he was among friends), what you usually hear is what they actually think, as opposed to what they think they’re supposed to say. The only thing that was outrageous about this latest episode was getting socked in the face with a few unvarnished truths.

Laura Kipnis’s new book, Men: Notes from an Ongoing Investigation, is out this week.

 

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Companies

Uber Is Hiring Lawyers to Rework Its Privacy Policy

"Our business depends on the trust of the millions of riders and drivers who use Uber," the company says

Uber is hiring a team of data privacy experts to review its internal policies as the company seeks to recover from an outcry over its alleged mishandling of users’ data.

Attorney Harriet Pearson and other members of law firm Hogan Lovells have joined Uber’s privacy team, according to a Thursday blog post, where they will review and recommend improvements for Uber’s data privacy policy.

Uber has faced a barrage of criticism in recent days over its privacy slip-ups, which include reports of company employees tracking the location of a journalist and a venture capitalist during their rides on the service, as well as a conversation in which an Uber executive proposed the idea of investigating hostile reporters. The ride-sharing company is aiming to restore trust among its users, some of whom have said they will no longer use the app.

“The trip history of our riders is important information and we understand that we must treat it carefully and with respect, protecting it from unauthorized access,” Uber said. “Our business depends on the trust of the millions of riders and drivers who use Uber.”

The company also published a clarification on its privacy policy on Tuesday, emphasizing that it only uses customers’ data for legitimate business purposes.

TIME privacy

What Is Uber Really Doing With Your Data?

The Hamptons Lure Uber Top Drivers Amid NYC Slow Summer Weekends
Th Uber Technologies Inc. car service application (app) is demonstrated for a photograph on an Apple Inc. iPhone in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

"I was tracking you"

Uber has had a rocky few days. On Monday, it was revealed that the ride-sharing app’s senior vice president, Emil Michael proposed the idea of investigating critical journalists’ personal lives in order to dig up dirt on them. On Tuesday, the company published a blog post clarifying its privacy policy. And Uber is investigating its top New York executive for tracking a reporter without her permission, TIME learned Wednesday.

What is Uber really up to, and what are its employees allowed to do?

What Uber does with your data

Uber has a company tool called “God View” that reveals the location of Uber vehicles and customers who request a car, two former Uber employees told Buzzfeed. Corporate employees have access to the tool, though drivers do not. But a wide number of Uber employees can apparently view customers’ locations. (Uber did not confirm or deny the tool’s existence to TIME, but it’s worth noting that “God View” is a widely used term in the gaming world.)

Still, several previous incidents appear to confirm the existence of Uber’s so-called God View.

Venture capitalist Peter Sims said in a September blog post that Uber had once projected his private location data on a screen at a well-attended Chicago launch party:

One night, a couple of years ago, I was in an Uber SUV in NYC, headed to Penn Station to catch the train to Washington DC when I got a text message from a tech socialite of sorts (I’ll spare her name because Gawker has already parodied her enough), but she’s someone I hardly know, asking me if I was in an Uber car at 33th and 5th (or, something like that). I replied that I was indeed, thinking that she must be in an adjacent car. Looking around, she continued to text with updates of my car’s whereabouts, so much so that I asked the driver if others could see my Uber location profile? “No,” he replied, “that’s not possible.”

At that point, it all just started to feel weird, until finally she revealed that she was in Chicago at the launch of Uber Chicago, and that the party featured a screen that showed where in NYC certain “known people” (whatever that means) were currently riding in Uber cabs. After learning this, I expressed my outrage to her that the company would use my information and identity to promote its services without my permission. She told me to calm down, and that it was all a “cool” event and as if I should be honored to have been one of the chosen.

And this month, a Buzzfeed reporter arrived for an interview at Uber’s New York headquarters only to find the company’s top manager in the city, Josh Mohrer, was waiting for her. According to Buzzfeed, Mohrer said, “There you are,” while gesturing at his iPhone. “I was tracking you.” Mohrer didn’t ask for permission to track Johana, Buzzfeed reports.

Of course, Uber also uses customer data for the humdrum daily task of connecting riders with drivers as well as resolving disputes and reaching out to customers.

What Uber says it can do with your data

Uber says it only uses your data for “legitimate business purposes” and that its team audits who has access to its data on an ongoing basis. “Our data privacy policy applies to all employees: access to and use of data is permitted only for legitimate business purposes,” a spokesperson told TIME. “Data security specialists monitor and audit that access on an ongoing basis. Violations of this policy do result in disciplinary action, including the possibility of termination and legal action.”

And in its privacy policy, Uber says that it can use your personal information or usage information—that includes your location, email, credit card, name or IP address—”for internal business purposes” as well as to facilitate its service for pickups and communicating with customers.

Uber clarified in a blog post Tuesday that “legitimate business purposes” include facilitating payments for drivers, monitoring for fraudulent activity and troubleshooting user bugs.

Another important point: Uber says it can hold on to your data even if you delete your account. The company claims it keeps your credit card information, geo-location and trip history “to comply with our legal and regulatory obligations” and “resolve disputes.” Users have to provide a written request in order to completely delete an Uber profile along with all their data.

MORE: A Historical Argument Against Uber: Taxi Regulations Are There for a Reason

So did Uber do anything wrong?

Strictly by its own standards, it appears that Uber may not have violated its own rules when Josh Mohrer tracked Buzzfeed’s reporter. There’s no indication Mohrer shared the information outside Uber—which would disqualify it from being “internal”—but it’s hard argue that he tracked the reporter for a “business purpose.” (Maybe it saved Mohrer time? Or he was showing off the feature? It’s hard to say.)

At the Uber Chicago launch party where Peter Sims’ location was reportedly tracked, the data was shared with people outside the company, as non-employees were at the event. That’s hard to justify by Uber’s rules. However, Uber’s privacy policy was updated in 2013, and the Chicago launch party occurred “a couple of years ago,” by Sims’ telling. So it’s unclear whether the move violated Uber’s privacy rules at that time.

Should you delete your Uber account?

If you’ve lost all trust in Uber and think that other ride-share apps like Lyft (or plain old taxis) are better, than yes, perhaps. But there isn’t any evidence that Uber is inappropriately using customer data on a widespread scale. And if you do delete your account, remember: unless you write in, Uber will still have your data.

TIME Business

Dismantling Tech’s Sexist Culture Isn’t Easy, But Deleting Uber Sure Is

Uber Technologies Inc. Senior Vice President Of Business Emil Michael Interview
Emil Michael, senior vice president of business for Uber Technologies Inc., speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, July 29, 2014. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Nilofer Merchant is an author and speaker based in Silicon Valley, California.

As history has shown, if we wait for those in power in Silicon Valley to do something, we might wait forever

News Monday of car-service company Uber wanting to launch a smear campaign (to the tune of $1 million) against a female journalist should worry you for obvious reasons. In response, actor and Uber investor Ashton Kutcher tweeted “what is so wrong about digging up dirt against a shady journalist?”

Oh, boy. Or, should I say, boys.

We should all be concerned with what’s going on with Uber—not just for what it says about tech, but for what it means for business and culture as a whole. One truism I’ve learned in the last 20 years of being up-close in the tech industry is that as Silicon Valley Companies Do, so Does the Rest of the Industry. From key ideas to key leaders, what happens here in Silicon Valley spreads fast.

Some people have called this latest news just another “clueless” move by inexperienced and young company executives. But that defies evidence of a pattern at play in tech, business and society overall: that women are threatened and oppressed for having an opinion. And perhaps more to the point, that men and their inaction allow this attitude to propagate. “Boys will be boys.”

Both Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and the executive involved in the latest scandal, Emil Michael, have been publicly shamed into saying “I’m sorry.” But an apology is not the only thing this situation merits. Michael, as of now, still works for Uber. And the company’s recruitment of top political talent implies that it’s more interested in spinning the news, not changing its ways.

This is not an isolated incident in tech. It’s part of a pattern. Take, for example, Gamergate, a controversy that began earlier this fall of online harassment of women in video gaming culture. Social media attacks, particularly those from website forums 4chan and Reddit, were widely condemned for their sexism and misogyny. Just last month, media critic and feminist Anita Sarkeesian became the subject of terrorist threats against her planned lecture at Utah State University, which made international headlines.

And let’s not forget that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said a few weeks ago that it was “good karma” for women to wait for a pay raise, rather than ask, and then suggested some elusive “industry” fix this problem.

Point being, the dynamics in tech are not new, or even unknown. The ‘bro’ culture has just been left unchecked.

Let’s remember, the people “in charge” today could have already made much needed changes. But Uber’s investors and board have chosen to remain silent on the safety of women issue, despite the company’s well-known and widely reported frat-bro culture, as summarized by Elizabeth Plank in Mic:

It’s hard to count all of the ways Uber has degraded, diminished and generally harmed women since its founding in 2009. Whether it’s the CEO openly referring to the company as “Boober,” the company’s chauvinistic ad campaigns, the alleged slut-shaming of female passengers who accused drivers of assault, or the reports that drivers “choked” and even attempted to abduct female passengers, the company has built a reputation for an increasingly problematic and misogynistic management style and culture. And that’s saying something in Silicon Valley.

And, so that begs the question, is this changeable?

Sarah Lacy, the journalist targeted for the smear campaign, wrote, “unless forces more powerful than me in the Valley see this latest horror as a wakeup call and decide this is enough, nothing will change.”

She’s right in one way. But I’m not convinced they need to be more powerful than her. People who share in a common purpose need to join forces with her. Because if we wait for “those in power” in Silicon Valley today to do something, we might wait forever.

Rather than waiting for “those in power” to act, we should start with each of us acting. So, today, you should delete your Uber account and put a dent in their estimated annualized billion-dollar revenue stream. In the social era, connected individuals can now do what once only large centralized organizations could. Yes, you can be as or more powerful as any top tier venture capitalist by banding together with others in this protest.

Mind you, I’m not limiting this action to women. This is not just a gender issue, but one of human values. It’s about the kind of world you want to live in. Uber counts on your desire for convenience to subsidize its untouchable ‘bro’ culture. That’s a big cost for convenience.

It’s going to take using the power available to each of us to act as one. And if Uber does change its ways because of our collective action, we can always return to them.

Nilofer Merchant’s high-tech business experience spans shipping 100 products, resulting in $18B in revenues. An author of two books on collaborative work, her next one is on how to make your ideas powerful enough to dent the world (Viking, 2016).

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Business

A Historical Argument Against Uber: Taxi Regulations Are There for a Reason

Taxi Rank
Yellow cabs waiting in line at LaGuardia Airport, New York City, in March of 1974 Michael Brennan—Getty Images

The author of a cultural history of the NYC taxi — a former cabbie himself — explains why he believes oversight is necessary

New York taxis used to have a reputation for smelly cars, ripped seats and eccentric drivers. Today, New York cabs are nearly all clean and well-maintained. Drivers don’t usually say much unprompted. The cabs feel safe. In other words, they’re boring. And maybe that’s a good thing, because they’re vying against a polished new competitor.

Uber, the ride-sharing app, has grown explosively in the five years since its inception, challenging established taxi services, expanding its annual revenue to a projected $10 billion by the end of next year and attracting drivers away from its competitors. Uber drivers get 80% of a fare, and the company only takes a 20% cut. Uber’s cars are mostly slick, clean and easy to hail via the company’s app.

But a big reason Uber has grown so quickly is that it’s not regulated the same way that traditional taxi services are. Uber proponents say it’s about time for monopolistic, overregulated city cab services to be broken up. Riders deserve options, they say, and better pricing, and more nimble technology. Still, the company is no stranger to controversy, most recently over reports of executives abusing the company’s ability to track riders.

And, says one taxi expert, history shows that the larger reason to be concerned about Uber is that those regulations were established for a good reason.

Graham Hodges is the author of Taxi! A Cultural History of the New York City Cabdriver and a professor at Colgate University — and a former cabbie himself, who patrolled New York’s dangerous streets in the early 1970s for a fare. Hodges is suspicious of upstarts like Uber and says that the cab industry needs to be regulated.

Hodges’ argument? Taxis are pretty much a public utility. Like subway and bus systems, the electric grid or the sewage system, taxis provide an invaluable service to cities like New York, and the government should play an important role in regulating them. They shouldn’t be, Hodges argues, fair game for a private corporation like Uber to take over and control, any more than an inner-city bus service should be privatized.

Without getting too much into the nitty-gritty of taxi rules, what do passengers get out of cab regulation? Regular taxi maintenance, says Hodges, which taxi commissions like New York’s require. “You want to know you’re getting in a safe cab that’s been checked recently,” he explains. “They’re taking a pounding every day.” Knowing your fare is fixed to a predictable formula is important, too, says Hodges. (Uber does that, though the company’s surge pricing at peak hours can really up the cost.) And you want to know that your driver has had a background check, which established taxi services usually require, so that you can be less afraid of being attacked with a hammer, abducted or led on a high-speed chase, as has allegedly happened on some Uber trips.

Regulations have been around for a long time, Hodges says: “Taxi regulations developed out of livery and hansom-cab regulations from the 19th century. They’re a necessary part of urban transportation. They’ve been that way since the metropolitization of cities in the 1850s. And those in turn are based on a long-term precedent in Europe and other parts of the world. From hard-earned experience, those regulations ensure fairness and safety.”

In the 1970s, when Hodges drove, those regulations ensured that a driver made a decent living, and could comfortably choose his or her own hours. (“I made $75 the first night I was out,” he says. “I felt fantastic.”) The golden days of cab driving, Hodges continues, were even earlier, in the ’50s and ’60s. Think sometime before seedy New York full of troubled men like Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver (1976), and more like the omnipresent, wise-seeming driver of Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961).

“Back then, drivers stayed on for a long time,” says Hodges. “They were beloved. They were culturally familiar. That’s where you get the classic cabbie and someone who was an encyclopedia of the city. Those are guys who dedicated their lives to the job and owned their taxis. They had a vested interest in a clean, well-managed auto that lasted a long time.”

Today, Uber drivers do enjoy some of those benefits. Though they’re hardly known for an encyclopedic knowledge of the cities they drive, or as cultural touchstones, they own their own cabs and have a lot at stake in driving. What’s more, they get a large cut of each fare and have a lot of freedom. And regulation doesn’t always work the way it’s supposed to: even after the Taxi and Limousine Commission started more closely regulating taxi drivers in the 1970s, riders were often in for a surprise. Taxis were rusty tin-bins and drivers were erratic.

In 1976, TIME offered a sardonic view of the New York cab ride:

A taxi ride is the chief means by which New York City tests the mettle of its people. A driver, for example, is chosen for his ability to abuse the passenger in extremely colorful language, the absence of any impulse to help little crippled old ladies into the cab, ignorance of any landmark destination, an uncanny facility for shooting headlong into the most heavily trafficked streets in the city, a foot whose weight on the accelerator is exceeded only by its spine-snapping authority in applying the brakes. Extra marks are awarded the driver who traverses the most potholes in any trip; these are charted for him by the New York City Department of Craters, whose job it is to perforate perfectly good roadways into moonscapes.

The taxi machines are selected with equally rigorous care. Most are not acceptable until they have been driven for 200,000 miles in Morocco. After that, dealer preparation calls for denting the body, littering the passenger compartment with refuse, removing the shock absorbers, sliding the front seat back as far as it will go, and installing a claustrophobic bulletproof shield between driver and passenger—whose single aperture is cunningly contrived to pass only money forward and cigar smoke back. All this is designed to induce in the customer a paralytic yoga position: fists clenched into the white-knuckles mode, knees to the chin, eyes glazed or glued shut, bones a-rattle, teeth a-grit. To a lesser extent, the same conditions prevail in other taxi-ridden U.S. communities.

In the end, Hodges says, cabbies and passengers have always wanted the same things — “We don’t want to have hyper competition, we don’t want reckless driving, we don’t want drivers about whom we don’t know very much,” he says — and, whether or not it always works perfectly, he believes that history has shown that regulation is the best way to get there.

TIME Companies

Uber Investigating Executive Over Use of ‘God View’ to Spy on User

After spate of bad publicity

Uber said Tuesday that it’s investigating one of its top New York executives for tracking a reporter without her permission.

The ride-sharing App has a system known as “God View,” BuzzFeed reports, in which the location of Uber vehicles and waiting customers are “widely available to corporate employees.” BuzzFeed reports that an executive used this system to track one of its reporters while she was working on a story about the company that has put it under fire for revelations that an executive raised the prospect of investigating journalists.

Early this November, one of the reporters of this story, Johana Bhuiyan, arrived to Uber’s New York headquarters in Long Island City for an interview with Josh Mohrer, the general manager of Uber New York. Stepping out of her vehicle — an Uber car — she found Mohrer waiting for her. “There you are,” he said, holding his iPhone and gesturing at it. “I was tracking you.”

Mohrer never asked for permission to track her.

[BuzzFeed]

TIME Companies

Toronto Wants to Kick Uber Out of the City

Uber Toronto
The Uber Technologies Inc. logo and website are displayed on an Apple Inc. iPhone 5s and laptop computer. Bloomberg/Getty Images

"Uber's operations pose a serious risk to the public"

Toronto is the latest city trying to give Uber the red light.

The City of Toronto has filed an application for injunction against Uber Canada, requesting the end of the company’s activities in the Ontario city, officials announced in a Tuesday statement. The statement said that Uber has been operating in Toronto without a license since 2012.

Like other major cities cracking down on Uber, Toronto is concerned that “Uber’s operations pose a serious risk to the public, including those who are signing on as drivers.”

The City is specifically worried that a lack of vehicle inspection and driver training is threatening both passenger and driver safety. Officials also say Uber’s insurance covering passengers and drivers in the event of an accident is below what’s required by the Municipal Code. Outside of safety concerns, the City cites unregulated fares and Uber’s “possible threat to the taxi industry.”

“With Uber, Torontonians have enjoyed real competition and greater choice,” an Uber spokesman told Bloomberg in an e-mail. “It’s disappointing that city bureaucrats have deployed expensive legal tactics to attempt to halt progress.”

Similar claims have successfully banned the car service in two German cities, major losses that Uber has managed to avoid in major hubs like New York and London.

Cities’ opposition to Uber is only one of many problems being tackled by the company, which is known for its ability to overcome several dead-serious controversies. Most recently, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick offered a Twitter apology after reports that an Uber exec said he wanted to hire researchers to dig up dirt on journalists criticizing the company.

 

 

TIME Companies

Uber CEO Offers Epic, Rambling Twitter Apology

Kalanick does not suggest controversial VP has been suspended or fired

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick on Tuesday afternoon offered up his first public comments since reports surfaced that company senior vice president Emil Michael floated the idea of hiring opposition researchers to dig up dirt on journalists that are critical of the company.

Here is what Kalanick had to say:

Kalanick does not suggest that Emil Michael has been suspended or fired, nor did he address simultaneous reports that Uber employees have accessed certain user data in violation of Uber’s terms of service.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Companies

7 Dead-Serious Uber Controversies That Somehow Didn’t Sink the Company

Uber Taxi App In Madrid
Pablo Blazquez Dominguez—Getty Images

From high-speed chases to abductions to driver poaching, Uber is well-acquainted with the snafu

Uber is no stranger to confrontation. The ride-sharing firm is known for aggressive tactics that have helped fuel its explosive growth. Its very business model is based on disrupting old-school taxi services in cities across the globe.

Remarks made by Uber’s senior vice president for business, Emil Michael, have put the spotlight on the company once more. A Buzzfeed editor overheard Michael outlining “the notion of spending ‘a million dollars’ to hire four top opposition researchers and four journalists. That team could, he said, help Uber fight back against the press—they’d look into ‘your personal lives, your families,’ and give the media a taste of its own medicine.”

Michael excused himself later, saying that he regretted his idea to investigate and embarrass critical journalists, and that his remarks “do not reflect my actual views.”

Here are seven other controversies that the company has been embroiled in over the years. None of them has seemed to really hurt it permanently. Uber will hit an annual revenue rate of $10 billion by the end of 2015, Business Insider reports.

Sabotaging Lyft by booking rides and then canceling them

Uber employees allegedly posed as customers ordered and then canceled rides from Lyft, decreasing Lyft drivers’ availability, wasting time and gas, and possibly sending real customers to Uber instead. Lyft told CNNMoney in August that 177 Uber employees—contractors armed with a burner phone and a credit card—ordered and canceled more than 5,000 rides.

Uber officially denies that it’s playing dirty, but an Uber contractor told The Verge that the company encourages that kind of maneuver.

Poaching Lyft drivers

Uber employees are known to hail Lyft rides, converse with Lyft drivers, and try to recruit them to Uber before they get to their destination. The system has become complex: there’s an official conversation guide for Uber recruiters, and a messaging app that tells Uber recruiters which Lyft drivers had already been pitched. One source told the Verge that recruiters can earn a $750 commission for successfully recruiting a single new driver to Uber.

(Lyft has also sought to recruit Uber drivers, by offering cash bonuses for joining.)

Disrupting established taxi services

Traditional city taxi services aren’t happy with the competitive challenge Uber poses. Sentimentalists mourn the hardships faced by old-line companies like the classic New York City yellow cabs, and many argue that Uber should be subject to the same regulations as traditional taxi services. Uber has faced a slew of legal challenges, lobbying and public mud throwing in dozens of cities it has moved in to.

One Uber driver allegedly abducted a woman

An Uber driver was arrested in June by Los Angeles police on suspicion of kidnapping a drunk woman and taking her to a hotel, intending to sexual assault her. The LA Times reports that a valet employee at a night club asked an Uber to drive a young woman home, but he instead allegedly drove her to a hotel and slept beside her.

..a second driver apparently abducted another woman

Another LA woman was reportedly abducted by an Uber driver last month who took her almost 20 miles out of the way, ignoring her questions and directions, and drove her into a dark empty parking lot in the middle of the night. The driver locked the doors, trapped her inside and only took her home when she screamed and caused a commotion, Valleywag reports. A quick ride turned into a two-hour plus nightmare.

…a third is said to have abducted a New York-based CEO

The CEO of a New York-based company said he was taken on a wild ride by an Uber driver in July who appeared to be escaping D.C. taxi inspectors.

The Uber driver started down the street, ran a red light and veered away from the D.C. inspector, according to CEO Ryan Simonetti’s story in The Washington Post. Simonetti says he was driven down the highway well above the speed limit as the Uber driver veered, narrowly missing hitting other cars in order to escape the D.C. authorities. “It was insane,” Simonetti said. “I physically tried to force his leg to hit the brake. I ripped off his pant leg…. I said, ‘Here’s two options. You take this exit, or I’m going to knock the side of your head in. If we crash, we crash, but you’re gonna kill us anyway.’” Simonetti managed to escape the car, and the Uber driver screeched away the wrong way up an exit ramp.

…and a fourth was arrested for supposedly hitting a passenger on the head with a hammer.

In September, an Uber passenger in San Francisco questioned a driver on the route he was taking when things turned ugly, NBC reported. Driver Patrick Karajah pulled the vehicle over and took a hammer, beating the passenger over the head and causing facial fracture and trauma to the head. Karajah is being charged with deadly weapon assault and battery with serious bodily injury; the passenger, Roberto Chicas, faces reconstructive surgery and hasn’t been able to work since the assault.

One of the major complaints against the company is that it doesn’t vet its drivers the way that an established taxi company does. (That applies to Lyft, too.) Uber does do a driver background check, but established taxi drivers are often better regulated.

TIME technology

Uber Rides into New PR Storm Over Digging Dirt on Hostile Press

Senior VP told celebrity guests the company should hire investigators to expose details of critics’ private lives

Ride-sharing app firm Uber has just ridden into another major PR storm after one of its senior executives suggesting the company should dig dirt on hostile journalists.

The comments, made by Emil Michael, the company’s senior vice-president for business, give further ammunition to critics who accuse the company of being arrogant and unethical.

Michael made the remarks at a dinner Friday at Manhattan’s Waverly Inn attended by luminaries such as actor Ed Norton and publisher Arianna Huffington. While he obviously thought he was talking off the record, a Buzzfeed editor who was invited to the dinner by journalist Michael Wolff says that that wasn’t communicated to him. And he promptly spilled the beans.

According to Buzzfeed, Michael “outlined the notion of spending ‘a million dollars’ to hire four top opposition researchers and four journalists. That team could, he said, help Uber fight back against the press — they’d look into ‘your personal lives, your families,’ and give the media a taste of its own medicine.”

Buzzfeed has been aggressive in covering what it sees as Uber’s cultural shortcomings, recently highlighting an apparent initiative by Uber in Lyon, France, to partner with an escort agency.

That episode had prompted the PandoDaily blogger Sarah Lucy to accuse the company of “sexism and misogyny” and announce publicly that she would boycott the service. Buzzfeed reported that Lucy was top among the targets of Michael’s anger, saying that she “should be held ‘personally responsible’ for any woman who followed her lead in deleting Uber and was then sexually assaulted” by a driver from a different taxi service.

The company didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment by Fortune, but the BF article carried the following statement from Michael:

“The remarks attributed to me at a private dinner — borne out of frustration during an informal debate over what I feel is sensationalistic media coverage of the company I am proud to work for — do not reflect my actual views and have no relation to the company’s views or approach. They were wrong no matter the circumstance and I regret them.”

Buzzfeed also quoted Uber spokeswoman Nairi Hourdajian as saying that “the company does not do “oppo research” of any sort on journalists, and has never considered doing it.”

She also distanced herself from Michael’s comments about Lacy specifically.

The partnering initiative with the escort agency in Lyon, meanwhile, has quietly died a death.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

 

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