It was inevitable

Uber’s bad behavior was literally a part of their business plan

So with yet another set of stories about just how awfully offal-filled Uber is as a company, people are still reacting as though this is a shock. Which is just bizarre to me, because the way Uber treats its employees was a given. It was literally predicted in the central tenant of their business:

Fire all the drivers

Let me explain. Uber, aka Travis Kalalnik, (for until he quits, they are effectively the same entity) operates as an amoral entity with only one “ethical” principle: The ends justify the means.

Now, there are two ways to use that statement. The first use, which you pretty much never see anymore is a statement of grit, of perseverence. “We will endure to achieve our goal. We will work until we collapse, we will walk until we fall over, we will do whatever it takes to reach our goal.”

Famous people who used that interpretation include MLK, Gandhi, and the countless numbers of people who survived things like the Holocaust, Bataan, and the Hanoi Hilton. The ends justified the means, the goal justified the work, the pain, the suffering.

Then you have the Kalalnik version, which is the one used by essentially every evil leader in good fiction and reality: “My goal is good, so whatever actions I take to get to it are also good.” It’s also used as a “get out of jail free” card, so that when someone acts like a complete douche, they can avoid dealing with the consequences of their actions. A great rant on it is here: http://somethingpositive.net/sp10102006.shtml

Here’s the thing: while we can talk about compartmentalizing, that only works on a limited basis, and for a limited time. Burnout amongst EMTs and emergency room medical personnel shows this. So does anyone who discovers after some amount of time that the person they thought they were dating isn’t really who that person is.

Uber’s complete lack of ethics, or even basic humanity was shown in their ultimate goals for their drivers, (you know, the people without whom Uber literally has no product at the moment): Fire them all, replace them with robots.

They viewed those people who work as hard, if not harder than anyone else at Uber as parasites, garbage, things to be binned as fast as humanly possible and certainly not worth any form of consideration. Look at how Uber’s relentlessly screwed them in terms of earnings. Uber’s share per ride goes up, but the schmucks behind the wheel? Shaddup and Drive, Travis is running low on Press-Away.

Uber’s view of riders is not significantly better, although they’re at least viewed as permanently necessary, since even Uber needs some income, not just endless rounds of funding. But again, look at how horribly that Uber has regularly treated inconvenient customers, or Uber’s willingness to leave a fairly solid market rather than have to spend the money on proper background checks that are kept current so that riders are less at risk.

Uber would rather walk away from millions than do that.

You cannot, can. not. look at a company that treats such significant parts of its business so relentlessly poorly, behaving in a completely amoral way without even a hint of the basics of any form of ethics beyond “Travis wants more money”, and be shocked that said awful treatment applies to the rest of the company.

The only way that would be surprising is if Uber wasn’t a shitty company to work for if you’re not one of Travis’s bros. Surprise, Uber’s a shitty company to work for if you aren’t one of Travis’s bros. Oh look they use stack rankings, which is a system that actively drags real teamwork into an alley and murders it, replacing it with systemic backstabbery and viciousness because it is a system wherein the only way you can succeed is at the expense of someone else on your team.

Companies using stack ranks are rarely run by people who actually care about anyone other than themselves.

At every turn, Uber’s corporate structure is set up to encourge awful behavior. It’s not just how women are treated, that’s just the most egregious examples. Everyone at Uber is constantly either fucking someone over to gain favor, fighting off the knives of the others trying to fuck them over to gain favor, or rampant bootlicking in the hope of becoming Important To Travis.

The similarities between Uber’s corporate mayhem and the behaviors that went on in the Kremlin under Stalin, or Beijing under Mao are not small. We will assume there is less murder at Uber. Because one hopes that even Kalalnik has limits.

Oh, and the fact that anyone at Uber is shocked at how believeable any form of bad behavior attributed to them is shows that they’re that precious combination of highly intelligent and preciously stupid, in a way that only self-unaware derps like Kalalnik can manage.

Uber, from the very start guaranteed what we’ve been reading about for over two years would happen, and that it would get worse. You want to see what kind of a person someone really is? See how they treat people they don’t think they need.

If you want to really get to the bottom of it, ask why such moral, upstanding VCs like the Kapors were so willing to overlook Uber’s codified inhumanity. That’s a lot of money what can overlook that.

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