Uber's Questionable Ethics

Uber's senior vice president of business Emil Michael made a mess for the company. At a dinner in NYC, Michael suggested paying $1 million to research information about members of the media: "your personal lives, your families." Michael's comments were directed particularly to Sarah Lacy, who wrote a scathing article about sexism and misogyny at Uber. BuzzFeed notes that this comment comes on the heels of Uber's commitment to improve its image and relations with the media.

A BloombergBusinessweek article notes Uber's history of retaliating against people who speak against it. Although later reinstated, a driver's account was deactivated after he posted a negative tweet about the service.

In a statement through his publicist, Michael, who said he thought his remarks were off the record, apologized:

"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."

In 13 tweets, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick explained the company's position.

Uber tweets

Tweet 14 apologized to Sarah Lacy.

Uber's head of communication also weighed in via Twitter: "We have not, do not and will not investigate journalists. Those remarks have no basis in the reality of our approach."

Discussion Starters:

  • Was it unrealistic for Michael to consider his comments at a dinner "off the record," or did the journalist at the table act inappropriately?
  • What should Uber do to regain trust?
  • Should Michael be fired?