No one needed another Uber scandal to confirm that some of its top executives (the few still around) are a public relations nightmare. Perhaps it should have been expected given the ride-hailing company’s punctuality for screwing things up. If the CEO belittling one of his own drivers was the nail in the coffin, this latest controversy shovels on the dirt.
Three years ago, during a trip to Seoul, South Korea, Uber executives including CEO Travis Kalanick visited a bar that is known for providing escort services. The source of this latest incident is Kalanick’s former girlfriend, Gabi Holzwarth, who spoke with the Information about what she saw at the bar that night. A professional violinist, Holzwarth says she was recently urged by vice president of business, Emil Michael, to lie about the outing. If you don’t remember Michael, he’s the guy who suggested digging up dirt on journalists who write negative press about the company.
“I just want to make sure that if this story comes out,” that Holzwarth would say they went to karaoke and “had a good time,” Michael said, according to Holzwarth.
Michael didn’t want the public to know that four male Uber employees participated in the karaoke bar’s system of having escorts accompany men for the night. The escorts sat in a circle wearing number tags as the execs called them out of a lineup so the women would sit with them. Kalanick and Holzwarth left the bar after about an hour, according to the report.
“I’m not going to lie for them,” Holzwarth said. “[Kalanick is] part of a class of privileged men who have been taught they can do whatever they want, and now they can.”
The one female employee who was present reported the event to human resources a year later. The incident came up as part of the ongoing investigation regarding allegations of sexism and sexual harassment made by a former Uber employee.
H/T the Information