Video: Uber CEO Gets In Argument With Driver, Gets 1-Star Rating

Filed Under: Videos

Uber has been in a lot of hot water lately, between the company’s CEO being on Trump’s business advisory council, allegations of sexism at Uber’s headquarters, and much more. In the past several weeks the #DeleteUber hashtag has been the top trending topic on many social platforms. Well, I imagine the video that just emerged of Uber’s CEO getting into an argument with a driver during a Superbowl Sunday ride won’t make the situation any better.

A video has been released of Uber’s CEO, Travis Kalanick, taking a ride with two girls, and then getting in an argument with the driver towards the end. You can see the video below, though I’d recommend just watching the last two minutes.

In the first several minutes you just hear Travis talking to the girls. Per Bloomberg:

On this particular night in early February—Super Bowl Sunday—Kalanick is perched in the middle seat, flanked by two female friends. Maroon 5’s “Don’t Wanna Know” plays, and Kalanick shimmies. He clutches his smartphone as the three make awkward conversation. The two women ask when his birthday is, and marvel that he’s a Leo. One of his companions appears to say, somewhat inaudibly, that she’s heard that Uber is having a hard year. Kalanick retorts, “I make sure every year is a hard year.” He continues, “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.”

But then as he’s about to exit the car, the driver confronts him over falling fares, and the impact it’s having on his work. He claims he lost $97,000 due to Travis. That’s where the video below starts:

For those of you don’t want to watch the video, here’s a rough transcript of what goes down, per Bloomberg:

“I don’t know if you remember me, but it’s fine,” Kamel says. The pair begin talking shop, and Kalanick explains that they’re going to cut down on the number of black cars, which will reduce competition and should be good for Kamel.

Then Kamel says what every driver has been dying to tell Kalanick: “You’re raising the standards, and you’re dropping the prices.

Kalanick: “We’re not dropping the prices on black.”

Kamel: “But in general the whole price is—”

Kalanick: “We have to; we have competitors; otherwise, we’d go out of business.”

Kamel: “Competitors? Man, you had the business model in your hands. You could have the prices you want, but you choose to buy everybody a ride.”

Kalanick: “No, no no. You misunderstand me. We started high-end. We didn’t go low-end because we wanted to. We went low-end because we had to because we’d be out of business.”

Kamel: “What? Lyft? It’s a piece of cake right there.”

Kalanick: “It seems like a piece of cake because I’ve beaten them. But if I didn’t do the things I did, we would have been beaten, I promise.”

The two bat that idea around, and Kamel brings the conversation back to his losses.

Kamel: “But people are not trusting you anymore. … I lost $97,000 because of you. I’m bankrupt because of you. Yes, yes, yes. You keep changing every day. You keep changing every day.”

Kalanick: “Hold on a second, what have I changed about Black? What have I changed?”

Kamel: “You changed the whole business. You dropped the prices.”

Kalanick: “On black?”

Kamel: “Yes, you did.”

Kalanick begins to lose his temper. “Bullshit,” he says.

Kamel: “We started with $20.”

Kalanick: “Bullshit.”

Kamel: “We started with $20. How much is the mile now, $2.75?”

Kalanick: “You know what?”

Kamel: “What?”

Kalanick: “Some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own shit. They blame everything in their life on somebody else. Good luck!”

Kamel: “Good luck to you, but I know [you’re not] going to go far.”

Travis actually comes across as reasonably level-headed towards the beginning of their conversation, but as it continues he lets his temper get the best of him. You’d think he’d be on his best behavior in Ubers, but that doesn’t seem to stop him from losing his cool. I actually don’t totally disagree with some of his points, but you’d think he’d view this as an opportunity to have a dialogue, rather than just telling the driver to pound sand.

Beyond that, Travis just comes across as a prick all around. Not specific to the conversation with the driver, but is he really trying to impress the girls by talking about how he “makes sure every year is a hard year.” Really?

(Tip of the hat to The Winglet)

  1. Uber driver is an entitled dick if he blames Travis for losing money. He made the decision to continue driving when pay was cut. As Travis said, the driver needs to take responsibility, but hardly any millennial understands the word, let alone cares for it. It would be fantastic if he got booted from Uber for harassing a rider, at least then he wouldn’t have to worry about reduced pay.

  2. The driver should know better that only CEOs can be entitled dicks, specially deplorable CEOs fanboys of the supreme dick…

  3. I agree with Travis as far as the business model because it works. I feel bad for drivers that rely on Uber for a primary or secondary source of income and are being victimized by the lower fares. I see regulation in the future of this industry. Drivers need a living wage, they are taxpayers, and that means a standards should be given to ensure their livelyhood.

  4. There’s no doubt that start-ups like Uber would raise the price or charge more commission from drivers.
    What people have to understand is, the attractive rates for passengers at the beginning, plus big bonus for drivers were generated from the Venture capitals and investors, not the market. After the initial marketing period, it is the time for Uber to make some profit.
    After all, you have to pay Bay area software engineers and Uber’s ambitious plans, the investors are also waiting for their returns.

  5. Aggressive, innovative companies like Uber that are breaking the rules in technology and innovation Aggressive have to follow the rules of a civilized society until they are well established. Women engineers should be paid well, but should be well aware they El be treated like a piece of meat. There choice to decide at what price point they are willing to put up with the harassment.

    Innovative companies shouldn’t be subjected to any rules.

  6. Not surprised at all by the video. Kalanick is a d*** and treats his employees like s***.

    I have little respect for the guy, even if he may be a genius in truly innovating the market.

  7. I really prefer Lyft (even pre-election and all that) but can’t get a driver in a reasonable amount of time. I was just in Fort Lauderdale and at the airport couldn’t get a driver for over 10 minutes? No thanks. I had to use Uber even though I’d rather not use them. Lyft has an amazing opportunity to swoop in and they aren’t taking it. Most people I have talked to do not even have Lyft on their phone. Uber’s promotions never automatically apply (and I check my account before I request a ride) and it takes up to three emails to get it to post. Lyft discounts hit every single time. But they need to really get their PR and marketing going strong right now.

  8. @Captain Obvious

    I agree with you, the poor should take personal responsibility for being poor, because BOOTSTRAPS.

    As you say, they chose poverty and not education, so they should die with no healthcare.

    I just want a cheaper ride, as you want.

    The poor should serve the rich. The takers serve the makers.

  9. @omgstfualready – really, you couldn’t wait 10 minutes for a car? How long did Uber wind up taking? At most you saved 10 minutes, and unless you are some sort of professional losing billable time by waiting 10 minutes (about as long as you’d wait for an appetizer at a casual restaurant), or it’s freezing or outrageously hot (which, given you were in Ft. Lauderdale in February, it wasn’t), ten minutes isn’t really a life-changing amount of time.

    At the risk of sounding like an old fart, people are really losing perspective these days…

  10. @Lucky — I’ll be the leftist counterbalance to @Credit — the entourage on video is two _women_, not two girls. If they were male, surely the description would be “two men,” not “two boys.”

  11. @Lucky. Why did you have to start this post with another reference to President Trump? Are you deliberately doing this (to stir things up amongst your readers)?. Please, can you just for a while leave politics out of this blog? Oh, and I hope you will not consider this a hateful, bigoted, homophobic and whatever-else-you-mentioned-in-your-earlier-post comment.
    No need to reply Lucky, since I will not follow this post.

  12. If drivers aren’t happy, why don’t they walk away? Get a new job?

    Is there substantial upfront investment in setting up to be an uber driver that prevents disgruntled drivers from leaving?

  13. Why would anyone try to make a living out of Uber? Does anybody even plan to drive their whole life for Uber? Uber seems much more like a side job than a career.

  14. Travis and his mate are geniuses. From startups to a billion turnover company and I personally met in Boston formerly unemployed that because of Uber didn’t get into crime. I believe he kept calm enough. He was trying to entertain the argument but the chap wanted to have a verbal confrontation at any costs. The driver is a small entrepreneur and he gets to chose if he wants to drive for Uber or for Lyft. No one is forcing him. So I’m sorry but I’m totally on Travis side.

  15. @Nicola……. Uber was introduced with high fares, and began dropping them as competition intensified. Lowering fares of course comes at the expense of drivers who have one car each. Meanwhile Uber’s strategy is – as rider and driver volume increases so does their top line. Whose top line drops ? The individual driver

  16. More like a petulant child than a CEO; little wonder the company is under so much pressure if this is the boss.

  17. Besides everything else about this interaction… at some point, as the driver, you’ve gotta cut your losses. You can’t just wake up at the end of the year and realize you lost $97K. If you NEED to make money, a reasonable person would stop driving when it stops making money. Why doesn’t he just switch to Lyft if it’s so much better?
    I’m an Uber fanboy but still…

  18. Already the fact that the driver illegally recorded and uploaded this tells us more than enough about his intention to know that the whole thing is designed to put blame on uber and not having a fair discussion.

    This guy knew the deal he is getting at all time and he knew it could change, uber is a company that must balance the interest of riders and drivers to make the most out of it (which is ubers own legit interest). They did that. The driver now has absolutely no valid point in his argument and just tries to escalate it as much as possible. He should be banned from uber and any other driving related business, in fact just every business since he proves very clearly that he is unable to act properly in a business context.

  19. @BenBen

    Texas is a one party consent state for recording people. Its not illegal.

    Not that I expected you to even bother looking up something.

  20. Got to love the average Uber Driver’s sense of entitlement.

    It’s not supposed to be your career. It’s a way to earn some extra money on the side.

    Uber make it clear tips are not expected.

    The fares (at least in London) are not amazingly cheap, you can book private hire cars for the same money as an UberX and it will be a better vehicle.

    Yet you constantly get the idiot harping on about how they can’t pay their ‘expenses’. No Uber doesn’t claim that they will buy you a car and no the fares are not less than fuel prices. So I’d really like to understand what these expenses they can not meet are. They’re not suggesting you buy yourself a car and take this up full time so it’s amusing to see how irate people get when they realise this was never the intention. Some of them never realise, carry on complaining, and yet still drive for Uber.
    Makes no sense…

  21. @John
    wow you’re a big guy with a bitchy comment like that. It might be a surprise to you but you can’t expect to people all over the world to know or look up law for a state in the USA just for an online comment… I personally feel good with just knowing the law in places I live and stay frequently.

    But to make it more compliant for you:
    Already the fact that the driver immorally and without consent of the people involved recorded and uploaded this tells us more than enough about his intention to know that the whole thing is designed to put blame on uber and not having a fair discussion.

  22. @k4

    The depression deduction for a vehicle is .54 per mile. That being said, that’s what the average cost of ware on a car per mile. (Engine, tires, suspension, etc) this does not include gas. In Houston (where the super bowl was this year) uberx fare breakdown is:
    1.95 booking fee (raised to 2.30 a few weeks ago)
    .87 per mile
    .11 per minute
    This is when there is a fare underway. (When passenger is in the car, not when they are in route or waiting)

    $1 goes to driver from the booking fee. Then uber takes 28% (in houston) off the mile and distance. That leaves:

    .08 per min
    .63 per mile

    Now take the .54 for depression. That leaves the driver $1 booking, .08 per min, and .09 per mile to cover gas, tax, and money for themself. WHEN THEY HAVE SOMEONE IN THE CAR. The drive to pick you up, they are not getting paid for. That is still costing them .54 per mile +gas. Other expenses would be all his local permitting (in houston, driver pays for that)

    The FTC just fined uber $20 million for laying to drivers about how much they can make. And recently uber was paying drivers $350 to refer other drivers to drive to drive…that being said, you start out more optimistic about the job. And when you don’t make what you were told, you keep trying, digging yourself deeper…

  23. As a small business owner, you have to be able to adapt to the marketplace to survive. You go out of business if you are not evolving to keep up with competition. There are many commodities that we can look at that have dramatically decreased in price over time (electronics is one example). A ride share service should be viewed very similar to a commodity, in my opinion. As competition increases, the price will almost invariably decrease. The driver has a choice. He is not forced to drive for Uber. If he is losing money, then he has a decision to make about his own future. Personal responsibility. That being said, I do not believe in intentionally misleading current or future employees. But you also don’t see a lot of people selling encyclopedias anymore either. If there is not enough money in the occupation for a person to make what they want/need/desire then it is time to find another source of income.

  24. 1. Many drivers went out and bought new cars that met Uber standards in order to specifically drive for Uber. Then Uber cut prices twice and left drivers in a tough spot. And when they owe so much on the car that they bought for Uber, changing careers may not be such an easy option.

    2. Whatever we hear about falling Uber prices, the prices for my recent rides have been unusually high. What was $25 a year ago is now $35 or higher. And even when they tell you the price in advance, the actual price often exceeds that.

    3. I tried Lyft at one point, but a) I kept having trouble with the app, b) there are far fewer cars than Uber and c) they were surge pricing at 10:00 on Saturday morning at a time when I’ve never had surge pricing on Uber. Maybe it’s worth a try.

    4. Want to help out your Uber driver? Give them a $4 or $5 tip. They will greatly appreciate it and you are pretty much assured a top rating.

  25. @Singleworldtraveler

    I don’t doubt your calculations one bit. In fact the depreciation on my car is probably a heck of a lot more than that…
    Yet my point was that Uber don’t propose that you go and buy a car for the job, so why are they paying the depreciation on it? It’s simply your own car that you can use to make some money on the side. As you probably know there also comes a point when the depreciation per mile drops dramatically. They’re also not proposing you use brand new cars only, you can easily use a high mileage Prius and your sunk cost will be significantly lower.
    I know loads of Uber drivers have gone and bought cars and want to put all their servicing and mantainance and cleaning of the car and depreciation of the car as costs, while their at it they may as well include the cost of eating and drinking in order to be able to drive, how about the cost of the bed they need to sleep on to be able to rest and while they’re at it they’d better not forget to include the cost of water for a shower, because you know Uber needs to account for these things.
    Honestly it’s not daddy Uber and they aren’t trying to be. It’s (nearly) free money for someone who has a suitable car anyway and a few hours spare, that’s all it’s meant to be…

  26. @CraigTPA, I did leave a lot out but I agree 10 minutes by itself isn’t a big deal, especially to try to support a business I prefer. The rest of the story is I did try for a Lyft before I had to try again. The first try I waited just about 10 minutes and the guy said he was there and he wasn’t, I tried to text because we had a language barrier and I was outside at pick up and it was so loud it was hard to hear. But in the end he told me I couldn’t be where I was because he was there. Ummm, no. I knew where I was (I kept saying which terminal number and by what area I was at (FLL you have to wait at the commercial pick up area). SO I had to cancel him and try for another, which was then another 10 minutes. I had already wasted a significant amount of time and had to get going. I tried Uber instead and he was there in an instant. So yea, 10 minutes is not long, but 10 minutes after losing about 15 already was something I couldn’t do.

    I found in Vegas a Lyft driver was also about a 10-15 minute wait when Ubers were all over the place. I ask every driver when I do Uber if they do Lyft too and the answers are always similar, they tried to do both but there weren’t enough requests coming in so they doesn’t bother with it anymore. It’s a vicious circle, not enough drivers but not enough users, until one improves the other won’t. I hope Lyft takes the opportunity being handed to them!

  27. Can you really expect people not to flame you when post articles like this? Whether or not it was your intention, this article smacks of snobbishness and paints you as a Trump supporter, or worse.

  28. I think every single entrepreneur would be on Travis’ side based on this encounter. Wages and models change based on competition. The driver should not have rushed out to buy a new car, he took a risk, thought it would pay off, and it didn’t.

    I’m surprised he didn’t get more pissed off frankly. Travis was just chilling with some friends and this guy starts talking shop. I would have told him to F off.

  29. I actually think it’s good to see articles like this on the blog, especially since Lucky has made it clear before that he’s a frequent Uber customer (as am I). Some political consciousness is a good thing every once in a while, especially in these times.

    Uber is a slimy company. Pretty much always has been. I was able to look past it by justifying that it was still a good product, but with the opportunistic JFK shenanigans, increasing reports of sexual harassment, and now this video, I can’t in good nature use Uber. I haven’t deleted it from my phone, as you never know when you might need a ride to get away from the wrong place at the wrong time, but I don’t feel good about using it. Lyft seems to have drivers and cars that are a little more “skaggy,” but it’s otherwise fine and pretty much the same thing.

    Also, nobody has ever really said enough about how ridesharing has tremendously increased congestion, especially around airports. LAX used to at least be somewhat tolerable until LAWA allowed rideshare droppoff and pickup at the Departures level.

  30. I’m an uber driver and haven’t been paid for 59 trips no deposit was made and was told my Bank account number was wrong I corrected the problem but still no pay. I also received a Gbank card from uber no pay Can’t seem to get to talk to a human being only taped messages
    I’m making good money for uber sorry they wound share it

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