Uber CEO Travis Kalanick can’t even catch a break in the back of one of his company’s cars these days.
In a dash-cam video shared by an Uber driver with Bloomberg, Kalanick gets into a heated discussion with driver Fawzi Kamel over fares for the ride-hailing company’s black service, which features fancier vehicles at a higher rate.
Update March 1: Kalanick issued a public apology to employees for speaking “disrespectfully” to the driver:
To say that I am ashamed is an extreme understatement. My job as your leader is to lead…and that starts with behaving in a way that makes us all proud. That is not what I did, and it cannot be explained away.
It’s clear this video is a reflection of me — and the criticism we’ve received is a stark reminder that I must fundamentally change as a leader and grow up. This is the first time I’ve been willing to admit that I need leadership help and I intend to get it.
The 6-minute video, shot in San Francisco on Super Bowl Sunday, starts with Kalanick seated between two women, chatting about when his birthday is (“He’s a Leo!”), the weather (“I can’t believe it’s raining out”) and the temperature inside the car (“It’s a little warm in here”). Kalanick bumps shoulders with the women and grips his smartphone as the Maroon 5 song “Don’t Wanna Know” plays on the car stereo.
Bloomberg points out in its story that Kalanick responds to one of the women, who seems to say that it’s been a hard year for Uber.
“I make sure every year is a hard year,” Kalanick says. “That’s kind of how I roll. I make sure every year is a hard year. If it’s easy I’m not pushing hard enough.”
In early February, Kalanick was still dealing with fallout from the #DeleteUber viral campaign that targeted the company after it was accused in New York of trying to bust a taxi union strike related to President Donald Trump’s immigration ban. Kalanick was then forced to leave a panel of fellow business leaders set up to advise Trump on economic policy.
After the video was shot, Uber’s troubles continued in February when a former engineer at the company wrote in a blog post that Uber’s culture allowed for blatant sexual harassment and sexism. The #DeleteUber hashtag re-emerged and Kalanick and the company were forced to address the backlash with an “urgent” investigation of the allegations.
In the Uber black video, the driver, Kamel, ends up having a one-on-one discussion with Kalanick (at the 3:50 mark) after the car arrives at its destination. The women exit the vehicle, but Kalanick stays behind for two minutes.
The entire interaction starts with Kalanick appearing to have had previous knowledge of Kamel. “Good to see you, man,” he says to the driver as they shake hands.
Kamel, who Bloomberg says has been driving for the company since 2011, tells the CEO he’s not happy with the direction the company is going with its high-end black service: “You’re raising the standards and you’re dropping the prices.”
Kalanick argues that changes have been necessary to help Uber beat back competition, namely from fellow ride-hailing company Lyft, but Kamel says no one is trusting Kalanick anymore and that he lost $97,000 and went bankrupt because of the CEO.
Kalanick’s voice eventually starts to get agitated and he calls “bullshit” on Kamel, twice, before gathering his stuff to exit the car.
“Some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own shit,” Kalanick says. “They blame everything in their life on somebody else. Good luck.”
“Good luck to you, too!” Kamel shouts back, “but I know you don’t gonna go far.”
Bloomberg reports that Uber declined to comment on the video.