Uber Promises To Change After Storm Of Controversy: Will The Company Survive The Scandals?


Uber, currently in the middle of a storm of controversy, has promised that changes are coming to the ride-hailing company.

The pledge was made in a conference call held with some reporters covering the various incidents that have placed Uber in the headlines for the wrong reasons.

Uber Promises Change

The special press call by Uber was hosted by Arianna Huffington, a member of the company's board, and included three of the company's highest-ranking female executives, namely United States and Canada operations lead Rachel Holt, chief human resources officer Liane Hornsey, and communications lead Rachel Whetstone.

Huffington, who stood in place of CEO Travis Kalanick, reiterated Kalanick's commitment to accept responsibility for the dreadful state of the company's culture, as well as the duty to make changes to the company.

Huffington also said that she would hold Uber's "feet to the fire" regarding the promised transformation of the company, which has the goal of not just fixing the culture of Uber but rather making the ride-hailing service "the most admired workplace to work at."

Kalanick was absent from the call, as he was said to be busy with the interview process of hiring a COO, along with investor and board member Bill Gurley, who was tapped to lead the board subcommittee focusing on the COO search.

When asked if Uber's board was considering to request Kalanick to step down from his position and whether he would not object to such a request, Huffington said that the possibility has not been discussed and will likely not be brought up.

Kalanick is a major focus of the reportedly toxic culture of Uber, as his "hard-charging" style of leadership has created a workplace environment that encourages employees to outmuscle one another, with bad behavior by strong performers often overlooked. Kalanick was also caught on video engaging in a heated exchange with an Uber driver over the company's business model.

Will Uber Survive?

While Uber has acknowledged its mistakes, the company claims that the swirling controversies have not yet damaged its business. The number of requested Uber rides in the United States over the first 10 weeks of the year are higher compared to the same period last year, Holt claimed.

The question, however, is how long Uber's business will hold up, and if it will maintain its momentum over the year as the company fixes itself internally.

Uber President Jeff Jones recently stated his intention to leave the company, claiming that the reasons for his exit are difference in beliefs and leadership approaches. Jones leaves Uber just six months after he was hired to the position, and reports state that his decision is directly connected to the multiple controversies currently attached to Uber, including the claims of sexual harassment and a sexist environment in the company's workplace.

Other issues that Uber is currently involved in include the revelation of a secret tool named Greyball that allowed the company to evade regulators and allegations by Waymo, Google parent Alphabet's self-driving unit, that the company stole its self-driving car technology.

If Uber will survive through these ordeals, it will have to follow through on its promised changes, and it will have to do so quickly to keep customers requesting rides through its app.

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