Uber's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week

SAN FRANCISCO — You think you had a bad week? Welcome to Uber's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week.

First, a little context. Last week was already one of the worst in the ride-hailing company's history. It started on a Sunday when a former engineer, Susan Fowler, published an explosive blog post alleging sexual harassment and discrimination. Then Uber got blasted by its own investors for fostering a "toxic" culture. To make matters worse, it also got sued by Google-parent Alphabet's Waymo for allegedly stealing some driverless car technology. Uber, of course, denies doing that.

So this week could only get better for Uber, right? Nope.

On Monday, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick had to ask his senior vice president of engineering Amit Singhal to step down after it was learned Singhal had not revealed he was the subject of a sexual harassment investigation at his previous employer Google.

Smaller rival Lyft, sensing an opening, says it's seeking to raise $500 million to pursue an aggressive U.S. rollout.

Then an Uber driver dashcam video surfaced showing Kalanick berating the driver. The CEO issued a staff-wide apology in which he admitted that his behavior had to change and that he was seeking leadership help. Yikes.

But no, the week was not nearly over yet. More headlines came when Fowler said Thursday she had retained an attorney and accused her former employer of investigating her and blaming her for a rash of Uber app deletions.

Thank God it's Friday? Not even close. The New York Times reported that Uber has for years evaded law enforcement authorities around the globe by using a program called Greyball that identified and avoided these authorities. This program may or may not be legal in these various places, according to the newspaper. Uber has admitted to the program but said it was just used for rivals, fraudulent customers and "opponents who collude with officials on secret ‘stings’."

Time for the weekend? Oh please. In the second major shake-up of the week, a top Uber executive, Ed Baker, who was vice president of product and growth, left Friday as scrutiny of the company's workplace culture and business practices heated up.

Is the week over for Uber? For the sake of its public relations team, we really hope so.

USA TODAY


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