I deleted Uber from my phone last night, and I think you should too. Let me explain why.
On Monday, BuzzFeed's Ben Smith posted a dilly of a scoop, quoting Uber's Senior Vice President of Business Emil Michael, who told a fancy dinner party of New York elite that Uber could spend $1 million to discredit its critics in the press, specifically Pando Daily's Sarah Lacy, who has written about the company's shady tactics and misogynistic culture. But Uber wouldn't be spending $1 million on damage control or positive PR--Michael boasted that the company could hire opposition researchers to dig into journalists' personal and family lives, and "prove a particular and very specific claim about [Lacy's] personal life," Smith wrote.
Through a spokesperson, Michael claimed his statement was "wrong no matter the circumstance" but that it didn't reflect his or his company's views. (Because lots of people say things to a room full of big shots that don't actually reflect their views, right?) Uber basically said its judgement-impaired executive was blowing off frustrated steam and the company would never actually do that.
Why this is a problem
But Uber has a pattern of untrustworthiness, so their claim is hard for me to take at face value. Even more damning in the BuzzFeed article is that despite a company spokesperson insisting that Uber has a policy against executives looking at individual reporters' travel data, this has actually happened--the GM of Uber NYC accessed BuzzFeed reporter Johana Bhuiyan's profile to make a point in an email exchange with her. And Forbes reported last month how Uber's "God View" (or a real-time map of Uber users' location) was used as a party trick, as chronicled by enterpreneur Peter Sims, who was basically publicly stalked for entertainment.
Even though Uber dialed back Emil Michael's gross comments--Michael apologized to Lacy via email and on Twitter, after she refused to have an off-the-record conversation with him when he called her--it's important to be able to trust a company that you're asking to drive you home late at night. From sloppy background checks to aggressive recruiting tactics to shortchanging drivers to mocking its own users, Uber has demonstrated multiple times that it's not worthy of my trust. (The Wall Street Journal has a great primer on all of Uber's shady behavior--grab some popcorn, as CEO Travis Kalanick might say.)
So I deleted Uber's app from my phone. I tried to log in to the website and delete my entire profile, but that isn't an option without contacting support manually and requesting a manual deletion. I filled out the support form and received a reply almost immediately.
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