A Leaked Uber Email Has Worsened The Company's Problems

Photo: Evan Agostini/AP Images.
Is Uber a frat house or a tech company? The answer may seem like a no-brainer, but continuous leaks of inappropriate workplace communications are making the line increasingly blurry.
The latest, uncovered by Recode, is a 2013 memo sent by Uber CEO Travis Kalanick to the "Uber Team." The email, which reportedly preceded a Miami party celebrating the company's fiftieth city location, included a set of guidelines. Lest employees gloss over the email in their inbox, Kalanick titled it "URGENT, URGENT - READ THIS NOW OR ELSE!!!!!" and wrote in the intro, "You better read this or I'll kick your ass."
After a brief Q&A section, the email includes a set of "Dos" and "Don'ts" that included "a list of concerns" Kalanick reportedly received from the legal department, as well as a few items he added on his own. Among the "Don'ts" are instructions to not partake in drugs without a medicinal license, throw kegs off of buildings (specifically, "tall" buildings), puke on public property (a $200 fine will be incurred), talk to press, or go to jail. ("We do not have a budget to bail anyone out...Don't be that guy.")
Perhaps the most concerning item, given recent allegations of sexual harassment at the company, is "Don't" number four, a note about sex: "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."
You can read the rest of the letter at Recode. As Business Insider notes, if you attended a university with fraternities, the email's bro language might look familiar.
The Miami email is yet another strike against the ride-sharing company, which has been struggling to do damage control ever since last February, when former employee Susan Fowler wrote about the sexual harassment she experienced at the company. Multiple employees have been fired as a result of the investigation into workplace culture. Meanwhile, the company has hired some high profile women, including former Apple exec Bozoma Saint John and Harvard Business School professor and gender authority Frances Frei, to help spearhead solutions.
Frei and Saint John have a gargantuan task ahead of them.
Uber had no comment to offer about the Miami email.

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