Passing on Uber 

Buzzfeed’s Ben Smith:

A senior executive at Uber suggested that the company should consider hiring a team of opposition researchers to dig up dirt on its critics in the media — and specifically to spread details of the personal life of a female journalist who has criticized the company.

The executive, Emil Michael, made the comments in a conversation he later said he believed was off the record. In a statement through Uber Monday evening, he said he regretted them and that they didn’t reflect his or the company’s views.

Even if we weren’t in a world where assholes have rallied under the GamerGate banner to dox women in the gaming industry, Emil Michael’s comments are unbelievable.

The journalist in question is Sarah Lacy, the Founder and Editor-in-chief at PandoDaily.

She writes, referencing the BuzzFeed article linked above:

Today, in his horrifying scoop, Smith writes about the the lengths that at least one Uber executive, Emil Michael, was willing to go to discredit anyone– particularly a woman– who may try to question how Uber operates.

Ruining her life? Manufacturing lies? Going after her family? Apparently it’s all part of what Uber has described as its “political campaign” to build a $30 billion (and counting) tech company. A campaign that David Plouffe was hired to “run,” that’s looking more like a pathetic version of play acting House of Cards than a real campaign run by a real political professional. Because step one of an illegal smear campaign against a woman is: Don’t brag about it to a journalist at a party.

The woman in question? The woman that this Uber executive has vowed to go to nearly any lengths to ruin, to bully into silence? Me.

Horrifying.

There’s not a shadow of a doubt in my mind that Uber should fire Emil Michael, but instead, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick took to Twitter and wrote:

Emil’s comments at the recent dinner party were terrible and do not represent the company. His remarks showed a lack of leadership, a lack of humanity, and a departure from our values and ideals

Of course, considering this, I can see why Michael still has a job.

Uber has a serious culture problem, and it seems to come from the top. Investors should push for these assholes to be fired, and customers should respond by leaving the service behind. Next time I need a hired car, I won’t be taking an Uber.