The Double Standard of Female CEOs Moving Fast and Breaking Things

In February of 2017, Susan Fowler’s description of the pervasive cultural issues at Uber, after the company’s abject failure to address her sexual harassment complaints properly, finally broke through in a way that garnered the tech community’s appropriate attention.

The company’s bad behavior was nothing new.

Just weeks before, Uber was fined $20 million for recruiting drivers while publicly exaggerating claims of their earnings potential.

Long before that, the company engaged in anti-competitive practices and antagonized critics, especially female journalists like Sarah Lacy, who called out years of the company’s toxic issues as early 2014. She was threatened by the company, yet her call for change and her callout of top investors went largely ignored.

Even after Fowler’s article came to the forefront and investors Freada and Mitch Kapor broke ranks with their silent co-investors in their now-famous open letter, things didn’t get better. 

They got worse.

There was what seemed like an endless stream of bombshell announcements for four months:

  • Alphabet’s Waymo unit filed a lawsuit against Uber claiming that a former Waymo employee, Anthony Levandowski, stole secrets related to autonomous vehicle technology.

  • CEO Travis Kalenick was caught on film arguing with an Uber driver about Uber’s new plans to lower fares. “Some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own s---. They blame everything in their life on somebody else. Good luck,” Kalanick told his driver.

  • The New York Times revealed that Uber had been using a feature that showed people it suspected to be (Read more...)