When Uber CEO Travis Kalanick cut his ties with Donald Trump’s economic advisory council, he did it only after being called out by the legions of immigrant drivers he employs, after Trump’s unconstitutional Muslim ban threatened their livelihoods and in some cases their families. A move like that might seem defensive or reactionary, but in the video below you can see that’s just Kalanick’s way.
When Uber takes a hit, the drivers get hit first. And unfortunately, it’s that same tone-deaf quality that makes it so hard for Kalanick to relate to the people he made promises to. More freedom to work on your own schedule and the ability make as much money as you want? You got it. But what happens when one of his drivers has an opportunity to call him out on his empty promises like the voices that drove Kalanick from Trump’s inner circle?
It’s the money issue that has his driver this evening, Fawzi Kamel, up in arms as Kalanick moves to exit the car. You can tell Kamel has been working up the courage to even talk to this guy, the seeming master of Uber’s fate, for the entire ride. His voice shaking, he questions Kalanick’s strategy of cutting prices — meaningless for a CEO who sees only volume of rides, but devastating for a driver who only has so many hours in a day. Eventually, Kamel lays it bare for his “boss”: I went bankrupt because of you.
Now we see Travis Kalanick, the man. Not the CEO who, from the comfort of a room far away from the drivers he oversees, decided to discourage tipping because “passengers have a racial bias.” Not the head honcho who faced down criticism when it was alleged that there was racial bias among the drivers themselves. Not even the corporate leader who took to Twitter to defy anyone in the company to defend the sexual harassment charges brewing in the software division of Uber. Tonight he’s a guy named Travis, and Fawzi Kamel thinks maybe Travis owes him some money.
Kalanick is visibly shaken when Kamel points out that in the higher-end service he drives for, Uber Black, standards have gone up and wages have gone down. Sounds like America, Fawzi. Kalanick counters that the competition forced him to make the hard choices and take a hit, though he doesn’t mention that it’s only the drivers who actually eat that loss.
What have I changed? What have I changed?
Kamel points out the fact that they’re a long way from what he used to be able to charge [in fact, per-mile for Uber Black has dropped nearly 25 percent and per-minute has fallen by almost half].
By the time Fawzi Kamel is done with Kalanick, the CEO’s temper has gone through the roof of Kamel’s black leather interior:
Some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own shit! They blame everything in their life on somebody else!
This, coming from a man who just blamed the competition (you struggle to even remember the name of) for the wage cut Kamel has taken? Coming from a guy who only stepped away from his toxic Trump connection because so many of his drivers were directly hurt by Trump policies?
Come on, Travis. Your excuses are Uber weak.