Uber has been rocked by a steady stream of scandals and negative publicity in recent years, including revelations of questionable spy programs, a high-stakes technology lawsuit, claims of sexual harassment and discrimination and embarrassing leaks about executive conduct.
The PR disasters culminated in CEO Travis Kalanick taking an indefinite leave of absence this week and promises of bold reform that largely ignored the ride-hailing company’s strained relationship with drivers.
Embattled Uber CEO Travis Kalanick takes indefinite leave of absence
Here is a timeline of some of the most consequential controversies.
‘Boob-er’ backlash, February 2014
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick faced backlash for a sexist joke about his increasing desirability, telling an Esquire reporter: “We call that Boob-er.”
Targeting the competitor, August 2014
Uber faced accusations that it booked thousands of fake rides from its competitor Lyft in an effort to cut into its profits and services. Uber recruiters also allegedly spammed Lyft drivers in an effort to recruit them away from the rival.
The ‘God View’ scandal, November 2014
Uber executive Emil Michael suggested digging up dirt on journalists and spreading personal information of a female reporter who was critical of the company. He later apologized. It was also revealed that Uber has a so-called “God View” technology that allows the company to track users’ locations, raising privacy concerns. One manager had accessed the profile of a reporter without her permission.