“How many people here have used Uber so far?”
“The Late Show” host Stephen Colbert’s question to the audience drew cheers and applause. His guest, Uber Chief Executive Travis Kalanick, said he got to the taping by pressing a button and getting a ride. Mr. Kalanick said he isn’t just a CEO, but a driver with a perfect rating.
It was all good fun—until the heckling.
A clip of the interview Thursday posted by “The Late Show” to YouTube doesn’t include the reported moment when a protester shouted from the audience about Uber’s impact on cab drivers.
Holy crap taxi association at The Late Show standing up in the audience to yell at the CEO of Uber
— Jeremy Nguyen (@jeremywins) September 10, 2015
According to the account of a BuzzFeed News employee, Mr. Colbert handled the outburst in stride.
At Colbert, audience member started protesting the Uber CEO. Amazing how Colbert just let him speak.
— Rachel Zarrell (@rachelzarrell) September 10, 2015
In the clip posted on YouTube, Mr. Colbert does press Mr. Kalanick about his company’s disruption of the livery industry, and the controversial “surge pricing” – the sometimes doubling or tripling of fees during peak demand.
Mr. Kalanick stuck to the talking points: Uber offers better pay and hours to drivers, and it turns off surge pricing during emergencies. He had a harder time explaining the logistics of UberEats, the company’s new food-delivery service. Mr. Colbert was feigned confusion — is there a tuna sandwich in the glove compartment?
Uber can’t be that good for drivers if it plans to replace them with driverless cars, Mr. Colbert pushed. Uber is aggressively pursuing self-driving technology. Mr. Kalanick said that as a tech company, Uber needed to be part of the future rather than propping up the past. Google Inc., Tesla Motors Inc. and Apple Inc. are all pursuing self-driving cars, he said.