Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Uber's Problems Are Silicon Valley's Problems - TIME

by Katy Steinmetz
Originally published: June 13, 2017

For months, the media has been waiting for “the Uber report” like townspeople waiting to see whether there would be an execution or a pardon in the public square. Former attorney general Eric Holder’s law firm was engaged to investigate the company’s practices after allegations of sexism, bias and mismanagement were made by a former female software engineer in February. What has happened during the waiting period for those findings, expected to be released on Tuesday, suggest the results of Holder's investigation are not only explosive but capable of throwing the scandal-plagued startup into further turmoil.

A torrent of leaks have suggested that the company's board is weighing a leave of absence for CEO Travis Kalanick, following the recent departures of several top executives and the firing of more than 20 employees in relation to claims of sexual harassment and discrimination, as well as other transgressions. This comes after months of speculation about the future of the company, valued at $69 billion, as one mess followed another. Beyond work environment issues, these ranged from a legal fight over self-driving technology to a damaging dashcam video of Kalanick dressing down an Uber driver.

The world's most valuable venture-backed company is no doubt in crisis. And the story of Uber, in its extreme success and what may turn out to be extreme failures, is in some ways singular. But it also hits on issues in the technology industry that are far bigger than one company.