Uber CEO apologizes to employees after hostile conversation with driver

The famously combative CEO got said he promised to "grow up"

By Matthew Rozsa
March 1, 2017 8:39PM (UTC)
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(Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

This Salon video was produced by Charlie May

A little more than a month after Uber CEO Travis Kalanick caught flak for his willingness to make a buck off of President Donald Trump's anti-immigrant policies, the embattled executive's personality flaws are again in the spotlight — and he is apologizing for them.

After being caught in a heated exchange of words with one of his own Uber drivers, Kalanick sent out an apology to his staff.


"By now I’m sure you’ve seen the video where I treated an Uber driver disrespectfully," Kalanick wrote. "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."

He added, "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."

Kalanick closed by writing, "I want to profoundly apologize to [Uber driver] Fawzi [Kamel], as well as the driver and rider community, and to the Uber team."


The apology referred to Fawzi Kamel, an Uber driver who recorded a session in which Kalanick was his backseat customer. Early in the conversation, Kamel is shown bragging that "I make sure every year is a hard year. 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."

Later, when getting into an argument over what Kamel claims was Kalanick's decision to drop his prices on Uber Black, Kalanick tells Kamel that his claim is "Bullshit." After Kamel replies by pointing out the drop in price, Kalanick condescendingly tells Kamel, "Some people don't like to take responsibility for their own shit. They blame everything in their life on somebody else. Good luck!"



Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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