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Travis Kalanick apologizes for blowing up at Uber driver who complained about drop in pay

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Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has penned an open letter of apology for a heated exchange he had with his Uber Black driver back in January about the impact of competitive pricing.

Kalanick was shown in a newly surfaced video arguing with driver Fawzi Kamel over Uber’s business model and what effect it has had on the driver’s pay. Kamel tells Kalanick in the video that Uber has cost him $97,000 and that he’s now “bankrupt” because of Kalanick — something Kalanick shrugs off, telling Kamel his claims are, “bullshit.”

The tone of the exchange further added fuel to an already five-alarm fire at the rideshare company, fanned in just the last week by accusations of intellectual theft, a sexual harassment claim from a former Uber engineer and a previous #deleteuber campaign — further confirming in people’s minds what they already may have suspected about the rumored “bro culture” at Uber, with Kalanick at the helm.

To try and pour a bit of water on those flames, Kalanick wrote his “profound apology” for his behavior on Uber’s site, addressing head on that he needs to change his leadership style:

By now I’m sure you’ve seen the video where I treated an Uber driver disrespectfully. 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.

I want to profoundly apologize to Fawzi, as well as the driver and rider community, and to the Uber team.

—Travis

Publicly, Kalanick seems to be coming to terms with the culture he has created. There have been many speeches, meetings and reports of the shedding of tears. Meanwhile, others — including some investors — have pondered just how much more bad press Uber can take before we see any real action happen within Uber’s leadership.

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