Uber Narcissists at Work, Continued

Uber narcissists‘ (yes, double entendre, if you will) most unfortunate workplace adventures continue, as they are wont to do.

A female engineer employed by Tesla, run by a notorious narcissist Elon Musk, accused the company of:

(…) ignoring her complaints of “pervasive harassment”, paying her a lower salary than men doing the same work, promoting less qualified men over her and retaliating against her for raising concerns.

Again, this is typical for organizations run by character disordered — narcissistic and psychopathic — leaders. The workplace culture is shaped by the boss, and reflects his or her values and behavior.

Also this just happened:

(…) Bloomberg News published dashcam video of [Uber] CEO Travis Kalanick arguing with his own Uber driver over the company’s treatment of drivers, prompting a mea culpa from him on Tuesday night.

The video, reportedly taken 5 February, shows Kalanick riding in the back seat, wedged between two female friends, shimmying his shoulders to the strains of Maroon 5.

When the ride ended, driver Fawzi Kamel took the opportunity to share a common driver complaint: “You’re raising the standards, and you’re dropping the prices.”

The pair discussed the state of the ride-hail market for a few moments before Kamel drove his point home. “People are not trusting you any more,” he said. “I lost $97,000 because of you. I’m bankrupt because of you … You keep changing every day.”

Kalanick denied that the prices for Uber’s high-end service, Uber Black, have fallen that much, saying, “Bullshit.”

Then he got personal with Kamel.

“Some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own shit,” he said. “They blame everything in their life on somebody else. Good luck!” Then he slammed the door.

After the video went public, Kalanick issued a note of not just an apology, but a profound apology — to his employees — saying that:

By now I’m sure you’ve seen the video where I treated an Uber driver disrespectfully. To say that I am ashamed is an extreme understatement. My job as your leader is to lead…and that starts with behaving in a way that makes us all proud. That is not what I did, and it cannot be explained away.

It’s clear this video is a reflection of me—and the criticism we’ve received is a stark reminder that I must fundamentally change as a leader and grow up. This is the first time I’ve been willing to admit that I need leadership help and I intend to get it.

I want to profoundly apologize to Fawzi, as well as the driver and rider community, and to the Uber team.


The apology is instructive in the workings of narcissism, of course, as it takes place only after the narcissist’s offense has been made public. Without that video, we wouldn’t necessarily be the wiser about Travis’s interactions with other people — although it’s easy to guess — especially those underneath him on the social ladder, and those are the ones that matter most.

It is also notable for its over-the-top-ness* and drama, both narcissistic giveaways suggestive of disingenuousness.

Travis does not need “leadership” help, but humanness help, first and foremost, and it remains to be seen whether he will get it as he promises. Depending on the extent of his narcissism, such help — if he finds it** — may or may not be effective. Proof, as always, will be in the pudding, i.e., the man’s changed character as manifested in his daily interactions with others, especially the powerless ones, his subordinates and/or his critics.

Meanwhile, PBS Newshour had a segment about Kalanick’s recent woes, titled, Why Snapchat and Uber are under intense scrutiny over values, reminding everyone that in the American society values matter only if they can be monetized — i.e., to the extent they affect profits.

Part of the exchange with an invited expert went as follows:

HARI SREENIVASAN: And this is also a company that is not public yet, but when it goes, if it goes, the valuations are staggering — $70 billion is currently where it’s at.

Does this call into question perhaps the temperament of this individual and whether he is the right person to run such a big global company?

MIKE ISAAC: Yes, I think that’s right.

I suppose we will have to wait just a bit longer for the PBS Newshour pundits to ask this question about the person running the most powerful (so far) nation on Earth. But, as no immediate monetary losses for the ruling class are involved — on the contrary — there is no need to rush.

Though maybe we shouldn’t wait too long, because, as Kalanick so presciently warned us, with the kind of spot-on projection that narcissists excel in,

Some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own shit. They blame everything in their life on somebody else. Good luck!

Yeah, we’re gonna need that.


*Anything in human interactions that falls in the over-the-top, bigger-than-life, too-good-to-be-true (duh) category is strongly suggestive of narcissism.

**It is likely he’ll seek “help” from other narcissistic business gurus and similar types, which will result in further entrenching his narcissism and just learning to manage his image better. This is what such “interventions” among the powerful narcissists amount to, ensuring that the systems they run remain essentially unchanged, save some cosmetic “improvements” on the margins. Image over substance is the motto of narcissists everywhere.



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