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Uber Discloses Interest in Destroying Critics in Media

Uber, one of Silicon Valley’s most malevolent creations, is getting some seriously bad PR after one of its executives claimed the company was interested in smearing journalists. The Uber executive, Emil Michael, apparently told Ben Smith of BuzzFeed in what he thought was an “off the record” meeting that he was interested in paying opposition researchers to destroy Uber’s critics in the media. Smith was invited to the event with Michael by journalist Michael Wolff who neglected to tell Smith it was an off the record meeting. Emil Michael even specified who he had a particular interest in destroying – Pando Daily Editor-in-Chief Sarah Lacy.

Lacy has been a leading and continual critic of Uber and recently publicly stated she deleted her Uber account when she heard about a plan by Uber that she believed was unsafe for women. Lacy’s criticisms were of such an annoyance to the company and Michael that he proposed paying opposition researchers to dig up dirt and destroy her, even making reference to something particular in her personal life.

Lacy later responded that Michael’s plan to discredit her was indicative of an overly-aggressive culture at the company that has gotten it into trouble before.

I have known many of Uber’s key investors and founders personally for six to ten years. Over that time I’ve seen an ever-worsening frat culture where sexist jokes and a blind eye here-or-there have developed into a company where the worst kind of smearing and objectification of women is A-ok. It’s impossible to prove that Kalanick directly ordered things like slut-shaming female passengers or the creepy Lyon ad — and, to be clear, there’s no evidence he was personally involved in either of those scandals — but let’s be clear: The acceptance of this kind of behavior comes from the top…

Today, in his horrifying scoop, Smith writes about the the lengths that at least one Uber executive, Emil Michael, was willing to go to discredit anyone– particularly a woman– who may try to question how Uber operates. Ruining her life? Manufacturing lies? Going after her family? Apparently it’s all part of what Uber has described as its “political campaign” to build a $30 billion (and counting) tech company. A campaign that David Plouffe was hired to “run,” that’s looking more like a pathetic version of play acting House of Cards than a real campaign run by a real political professional. Because step one of an illegal smear campaign against a woman is: Don’t brag about it to a journalist at a party.

Yes, that is the David Plouffe of Obama 2008 campaign fame. Now he is on Uber’s payroll to help with their messaging. The hope for change hasn’t materialized yet. In fact, the “war on women” talking point seems to fit Uber, doesn’t it Dave?

The only thing that may be worse than the culture at Uber is the business which is basically a low-cost private car service posing as a technology company. Uber’s biggest problem has often been worker regulations in various locations that prevent Uber’s race to the bottom wage model. The company’s founder and CEO, Travis Kalanick, is an Ayn Rand devotee and says he will never stop fighting for his exploitative business model to have free reign. By any means necessary?

CommunityThe Bullpen

Uber Discloses Interest in Destroying Critics in Media

Uber, one of Silicon Valley’s most malevolent creations, is getting some seriously bad PR after one of its executives claimed the company was interested in smearing journalists. The Uber executive, Emil Michael, apparently told Ben Smith of BuzzFeed in what he thought was an “off the record” meeting that he was interested in paying opposition researchers to destroy Uber’s critics in the media. Smith was invited to the event with Michael by journalist Michael Wolff who neglected to tell Smith it was an off the record meeting. Emil Michael even specified who he had a particular interest in destroying – Pando Daily Editor-in-Chief Sarah Lacy.

Lacy has been a leading and continual critic of Uber and recently publicly stated she deleted her Uber account when she heard about a plan by Uber that she believed was unsafe for women. Lacy’s criticisms were of such an annoyance to the company and Michael that he proposed paying opposition researchers to dig up dirt and destroy her, even making reference to something particular in her personal life.

Lacy later responded that Michael’s plan to discredit her was indicative of an overly-aggressive culture at the company that has gotten it into trouble before.

I have known many of Uber’s key investors and founders personally for six to ten years. Over that time I’ve seen an ever-worsening frat culture where sexist jokes and a blind eye here-or-there have developed into a company where the worst kind of smearing and objectification of women is A-ok. It’s impossible to prove that Kalanick directly ordered things like slut-shaming female passengers or the creepy Lyon ad — and, to be clear, there’s no evidence he was personally involved in either of those scandals — but let’s be clear: The acceptance of this kind of behavior comes from the top…

Today, in his horrifying scoop, Smith writes about the the lengths that at least one Uber executive, Emil Michael, was willing to go to discredit anyone– particularly a woman– who may try to question how Uber operates. Ruining her life? Manufacturing lies? Going after her family? Apparently it’s all part of what Uber has described as its “political campaign” to build a $30 billion (and counting) tech company. A campaign that David Plouffe was hired to “run,” that’s looking more like a pathetic version of play acting House of Cards than a real campaign run by a real political professional. Because step one of an illegal smear campaign against a woman is: Don’t brag about it to a journalist at a party.

Yes, that is the David Plouffe of Obama 2008 campaign fame. Now he is on Uber’s payroll to help with their messaging. The hope for change hasn’t materialized yet. In fact, the “war on women” talking point seems to fit Uber, doesn’t it Dave?

The only thing that may be worse than the culture at Uber is the business which is basically a low-cost private car service posing as a technology company. Uber’s biggest problem has often been worker regulations in various locations that prevent Uber’s race to the bottom wage model. The company’s founder and CEO, Travis Kalanick, is an Ayn Rand devotee and says he will never stop fighting for his exploitative business model to have free reign. By any means necessary?

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Dan Wright

Dan Wright

Daniel Wright is a longtime blogger and currently writes for Shadowproof. He lives in New Jersey, by choice.