travis-kalanick-uber

UPDATE: Kalanick took our advice and opted for a leave of absence. His direct reports will run the company, and he has not specified a return date. We say good call. Read more below.

Back in April, experts estimated that Uber scandals had knocked $10 billion off the company’s valuation… then things got really ugly.

Now an endless cycle of chaos has reportedly led Uber’s board to consider making CEO Travis Kalanick take a three-month break. (Hey, still beats the fate of infamous senior vice-president of business, Emil Michael, who just resigned today.)

Here are seven reasons why Kalanick—who, it must be said, is still reeling from the death of his mother in a boating accident—should step back to smell the flowers (and prepare for the lawsuits).

1. Kalanick doesn’t get along with rivals.
Lyft Inc. drivers are currently suing Uber, accusing them of illegally tracking their movements. Shrewdly, Uber allegedly picked a spyware code name that juries won’t find at all sinister: Hell.

2. Kalanick doesn’t get along with his own employees.
Uber has been repeatedly hit with lawsuits that accuse the company of treating employees as independent contractors and denying them benefits… until it comes time to set ride prices, at which point all the labor protections the law promises independent contractors magically go away. Hundreds of millions have already been paid out. In related news…

3. Seriously, Kalanick doesn’t get along with his own employees. Here’s the notorious clip of Kalanick riding in an Uber. Which is great (hey, the CEO believes in his company), until the driver starts talking wages and Kalanick can’t stop himself from talking back…

4. Kalanick particularly doesn’t get along with female employees. Quite simply, Uber appears to have had a culture of rampant sexual harassment. It ranges from the relatively subtle (male employees got free company leather jackets while female employees did not) to the cartoonishly unsubtle (a manager groping a co-worker’s breasts at a company retreat). In fairness to Uber, it should be noted people of both genders seem to have been treated miserably, like that time a manager threatened to beat in an underperformer’s head with a bat. Speaking of which…

5. Kalanick doesn’t attract employees with a great deal of common sense. Alleged highlights of a 2015 party in Las Vegas included an Uber staffer hiring a prostitute, getting robbed by the prostitute, and reporting the prostitute’s thievery to the police. (While prostitution is legal in parts of Nevada, they do not include Vegas itself.) Of course, this shouldn’t have happened because…

6. Kalanick does have strong opinions about people getting freaky. This is a direct quote from a 2013 Kalanick memo:

“Do not have sex with another employee UNLESS a) you have asked that person for that privilege and they have responded with an emphatic ‘YES! I will have sex with you’ AND b) the two (or more) of you do not work in the same chain of command. Yes, that means that Travis will be celibate on this trip. #CEOLife #FML.”

Oh yes, it is totally normal for the CEO of a company worth billions to write up something like this. Just witness Bill Gates’ legendary missive: “Why Bing Is the Future of Microsoft/Man Oh Man Do I Wish I Could Get More Handjobs.”

Of course, CEOs aren’t always model citizens. Steve Jobs was notorious for both having a violent temper and emitting a weird odor. But it’s forgivable because they make people fortunes. And this may be the biggest concern for Uber…

7. Kalanick doesn’t make money. Uber lost $2.8 billion in 2016 alone. Defenders of Uber point out that Amazon also posted big losses for many years before becoming absurdly lucrative. Detractors note that MySpace and Pets.com also posted big losses, meaning that step where buzz turns into profit isn’t guaranteed, as South Park’s underpants gnomes so memorably proved.

Photo: Getty Images/Mike Coppola/VF17/Contributor