July 25, 2017

The Uncomfortable Reality Behind Uber’s Culture Meltdown



UBER Logo on black background
Image Courtesy of UBER

💥A Boom with a View💥 is a column about startups and the technology industry, written by Erin Griffith. Find them all here: fortune.com/boom .

When a company as successful as Uber stumbles as dramatically as the startup did this year, the blame game begins. Uber’s leaders should have earlier addressed allegations of sexism and workplace harassment. Investors should have pressured management to fire HR policy violators. Certainly the board of directors should be held accountable for something.

“It’s been a tough 24 hours. I know the company is hurting,” CEO Travis Kalanick wrote to staff before announcing an independent review of the company’s workplace environment.

For years, Uber’s toxic culture was a poorly kept secret in Silicon Valley. A recent string of exposés only served to tell the rest of the world what techies already knew.

Some people tried to push for changes. “We have hit a dead end in trying to influence the company quietly from the inside,” wrote investors Mitch Kapor and Freada Kapor Klein in an open letter published in February. But many more said nothing, believing themselves powerless to make a difference at a company with a “super-voting” stock structure. (Kalanick and his cofounders essentially control Uber’s board […]

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