Travis Kalanick Reportedly Squirmed in Shame Like a Sad Tiny Worm Before Ouster From Uber

By Jennings Brown on at

Travis Kalanick grovelled on the floor before Uber executives last February, according to a new in-depth report on the company co-founder’s fall.

Bloomberg Businessweek reports that the incident happened during a meeting in a San Francisco hotel where executives were hoping to prove to Kalanick that he was hurting the company. The colleagues presented surveys that showed respondents’ impression of Uber were more negative if they knew who Kalanick was. Then, during the meeting, one of the executives was alerted to the now-infamous video of Kalanick in the back of a Uber car berating driver Fawzi Kamel. “Some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own shit,” Kalanick shouted at Kamel in the video. “They blame everything in their life on somebody else.”

Kalanick and two other executives stepped away from the conference room to watch the video, which seems to have helped change Kalanick mind about whether or not he was a problem. As Bloomberg reports:

As the clip ended, the three stood in stunned silence. Kalanick seemed to understand that his behavior required some form of contrition. According to a person who was there, he literally got down on his hands and knees and began squirming on the floor. “This is bad,” he muttered. “I’m terrible.”

According to a report published last week by Recode, Kalanick met with Kamel about two days later in a luxury flat in San Francisco for what was supposed to be a brief apology. But that meeting devolved into another debate carrying over from the one captured in the video. Recode reports that Kalanick and others in the meeting suggesting buying two cars Kamel used for Uber’s business, because the initial argument stemmed from Kamel’s insistence that he had lost money on the investment after Uber lowered fares. “I lost $97,000 because of you,” Kamel told Kalanick in the filmed argument. “I’m bankrupt because of you. You keep changing every day. You keep changing every day.” After the meeting, the company’s chief lawyer swiftly informed Kalanick that the money would have to come out of his pocket, not Uber’s, Recode reports.

Citing an unnamed source, the report asserts that Kalanick did, in fact, agree to pay Kamel $200,000 (£144,000) of his own money. Kalanick reportedly also suggested giving Kamel stock in Uber. The decision is said to have greatly concerned then-general manager Wayne Ting, who was present for the meeting and feared this would set a disturbing precedent, leading to compensation for other disgruntled drivers, Bloomberg reports.

Uber did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the claims that Kalanick paid Kamel money and grovelled in front of executives while calling himself “terrible.”

The article sheds light on other disturbing blunders and mishandlings by Uber over the past year, including an episode where Kalanick, while on company leave, reportedly demanded security personnel read an Uber employee’s emails to determine whether the worker had leaked a story.

It seems that acts of meddling like this were what eventually led the executive team to write a letter to the Uber board, clearly aimed at Kalanick, to stay clear of employees and daily company matters. These days, according to Bloomberg, he’s “getting very good” at the addictive smartphone game 2048. [Bloomberg Businessweek, Recode]

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