Uber exec kicks up online storm after suggesting snooping on journalists

Emil Michael
Silicon Valley start-up Uber is known for little more than its rapidly growing business. The company, over the years, has gotten itself into a number of controversies, ranging from its business model to the safety of its passengers. Every media house has had something to say about the company, both praise and criticisms alike. However, the latest remark from the company’s senior vice president of business, Emil Michael, as reported by Buzzfeed.com has put a bigger than ever spotlight on the company and its moral bankruptcy.

 
Michael, at a recent Uber dinner party told his guests that the company should invest in giving the media ‘a taste of their own medicine’, by digging into the personal lives of those journalists who were critical of them. 

 
According to the Buzzfeed report, Michael was overheard discussing a plan that involved the making of a new team, comprising of four top opposition researchers and four journalists. This ‘one million dollar’ team would be responsible in helping the company ‘fight back against the press’.

 
In what Michael believed to be an ‘off the record’ conversation, he also particularly targeted journalist Sarah Lacy, editor of PandoDaily, who recently accused Uber of ‘sexism and misogyny’, deleting their app from her phone.  In one of her articles about the company, she said, “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.”

 
Reportedly expressing outrage at Lacy's column, Micheal said that women are far more likely to get assaulted by taxi drivers than Uber drivers. Lacy should be held 'personally responsible' for any incidents that might occur to women following her lead in deleting the app.
 
Buzzfeed however notes that ‘Michael at no point suggested that Uber had actually hired opposition researchers or that it plans to. He cast it as something that would make sense, that the company would be justified in doing’.
 
Travis Kalanick, CEO, Uber in a series of Tweets expressed his regrets over Michael’s remarks. He said, “Emil's comments at the recent dinner party were terrible and do not represent the company. His remarks showed a lack of leadership, a lack of humanity, and a departure from our values and ideals.”
 
In a statement provided by Uber, media reports claim that Michael said his comments were wrong no matter the circumstance and he regrets them. He further added, “The remarks attributed to me at a private dinner, borne out of frustration during an informal debate over what I feel is sensationalistic media coverage of the company I am proud to work for, do not reflect my actual views and have no relation to the company’s views or approach.”
 
He further sent a personal email to Lacy, apologizing for his remarks. According to Lacy’s column, the email is quoted as, 

Dear Sarah,
I wanted to apologize to you directly — I am sorry.  I was at an event and was venting, but what I said was never intended to describe actions that would ever be undertaken by me or my company toward you or anyone else.  I was definitively wrong and I feel terrible about any distress I have caused you. Again, I am sorry.  

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