Uber, the chauffeur company, is under fire over its response to the recent comments by Senior Vice President Emil Michael that the company would be justified in spending “a million dollars” to hire researchers and journalist to investigate the personal lives of journalists and give the media a taste of its own medecine.
The remarks were made at a dinner attended by influential figures in business and politics in New York, including Buzzfeed editor Ben Smith, who reported the story.
Smith writes that Michael’s outrage appeared to be particularly focused on Sarah Lacy, editor of PandoDaily. Lacy has published critical pieces on Silicon Valley asshole culture, and recently wrote that she had deleted Uber from her phone after an ad for Uber Lyon compared female Uber drivers to hookers:
I’ve never had much of an issue with Kalanick’s hard charging competitive nature or libertarian beliefs. But this sexism and misogyny is something different and scary. Women drive Ubers and ride in them. I don’t know how many more signals we need that the company simply doesn’t respect us or prioritize our safety.
Lacy’s latest post describes her reaction when Ben Smith called to tell her about Michael’s remarks and ask for a comment:
We are used to intimidation here. We’ve had sources try to intimidate Pando into silence by withholding access, threatening $300 million lawsuits, spreading lies about our relationships with our backers– or even suggesting that we’re funded by the CIA. We have mobs unleashed on us on Twitter, seemingly weekly.
So my concern wasn’t more lies winding up online about me. Sadly, I’ve had to get used to it. My concern was that the nature of these lies weren’t the same trumped up bullshit about Pando being influenced by its investors. That smear hasn’t worked, and we share several investors with Uber, so that dog doesn’t exactly hunt.
No, these new attacks threatened to hit at my only vulnerability. The only part of my life that I’d do anything to protect: My family and my children.
Emil Michael has apologised publicly for the remarks, as well as in an email to Lacy. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick criticised Michael, but stopped short of firing him.
“The acceptance of this kind of behavior comes from the top” writes Sarah Lacy, describing the company as “morally bankrupt”.
Yep, I'm done using Uber http://t.co/camzlU4E9N
— Ashley Ruhl (@crackerbitz) November 18, 2014
— dan sinker (@dansinker) November 18, 2014