Uber’s ex-CEO Travis Kalanick ‘squirmed on floor’ in contrition after incident with driver

Of the many bad things that happened to Uber and its former CEO Travis Kalanick last year, the video showing him arguing with an Uber driver over declining fares was among the worst.

And to be sure, Kalanick — who was still CEO at the time of the argument — admitted he’d done wrong in telling driver Fawzi Kamel that “some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own s—. They blame everything in their life on somebody else.”

In an email to employees, Kalanick was repentant. “I want to profoundly apologize to Fawzi, as well as the driver and rider community, and to the Uber team,” he wrote.

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“This is the first time I’ve been willing to admit that I need leadership help and I intend to get it.”

But according to a new report, his behavior after watching the video with two Uber executives was next-level abject: “He literally got down on his hands and knees and began squirming on the floor,” Bloomberg reported Jan. 18, citing an unnamed source said to have witnessed the incident. “’This is bad,’ he muttered. ‘I’m terrible.’

“Then, contrition period over, he got up, called a board member, demanded a new PR strategy, and embarked on a yearlong starring role as the villain who gets his comeuppance in the most gripping startup drama since the dot-com bubble.”

The beleaguered top exec also met with Kamel and ultimately proposed giving the man some Uber stock, according to Bloomberg, which attributed the information to people familiar with the discussion.

“After Uber’s lawyers insisted the company wouldn’t pay Kamel to clean up Kalanick’s personal scandal, Kalanick agreed to pay Kamel $200,000 out of his own pocket,” Bloomberg reported, citing a person familiar with the matter.

Kalanick did not immediately respond to a request for comment emailed to his personal spokesman.

He remains on Uber’s board after resigning as CEO in June under overwhelming pressure from investors.

Kalanick’s departure followed a string of blowups, which Bloomberg chronicled in its Jan. 18 article headlined, “The Fall of Travis Kalanick Was a Lot Weirder and Darker Than You Thought.”

Fallout from the troubles hit Uber’s corporate workforce and degraded company loyalty, according to Bloomberg.

“Employee morale was falling along with the CEO’s reputation,” the news outlet reported.

One executive told Bloomberg, “Until 2017, you could go into Uber on any given day and half the T-shirts were Uber T-shirts.

“They disappeared overnight. People didn’t want to wear Uber stuff.”

Photo: Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick in 2015. (Josie Lepe/ Bay Area News Group)

 

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