By on March 21, 2017

Uber (freestocks.org/Flickr)

Uber’s president Jeff Jones is quitting the car-hailing business after a brief six-month stretch.

Jones’ choice of a swift departure is essentially down to the company’s controversy laden decisions and apparent degenerate corporate culture. In addition to allegations of widespread sexual harassment, Uber has managed to routinely anger local governments by ignoring autonomous testing laws and by employing algorithms that denied service to potential investigators, regulators, or law enforcement officials. It’s also been accused of property theft, and CEO Travis Kalanick is exhibiting behavior unlikely to win people over.

It’s a real shit show.

Jones is just one of several Uber employees abandoning their posts, either because they’re fed up or forced out due to disharmony. The company fired its engineering VP after a serious sexual harassment investigation came to light via his previous employer Google. Its head of product left after questionable sexual behavior at a corporate event. And its senior director at Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center left to “focus on the family.” And VP of maps and business platforms is leaving. And …, and …, and …

For Jones, the decision to quit came down to an incompatibility between himself and whatever the hell is going on over at Uber.

“It is now clear, however, that the beliefs and approach to leadership that have guided my career are inconsistent with what I saw and experienced at Uber, and I can no longer continue as president of the ride-sharing business,” he said in a statement to Recode.

The final straw could be down to Kalanick’s choice to bring in a new COO to help him on damage control after his highly publicized altercation with one of his drivers. Although, according to sources, the issue there wasn’t so much that Jones was upset over Kalanick bringing in a new executive who could outrank him. Instead, it was that Uber created the new position to improve its gradually worsening image — the same task Uber brought on Jones to fix six-months earlier.

After being poached from Target, Jones started his work stint as president working as an Uber driver and meeting with employees to get a sense of what needed to be fixed.

“It’s clear that there’s much we can be doing better. Listening is where we get our best ideas, because they come from you, the people using Uber every day,” he said in an email to employees.

By February, some of those employees had turned on him in a public Q&A, posting angry comments while Jones did his utmost to reassure them.

“We are fixing the way we communicate with you and provide support to you — these are 100 percent about treating drivers with respect and as people. There is a lot that goes into earnings … things like earning on your way home with driver destinations or back-to-back trips or paid wait times beyond two minutes. Also, ensuring Uber is the first choice with riders. I am making sure that the Uber team knows drivers are our customers … our job is to make driving with Uber feel rewarding and worth your time,” he wrote.

With Jones gone, it’ll be up to someone else to make driving — and riding — with Uber feel rewarding and worth their time, and it isn’t clear who — if anyone — is up to the task.

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33 Comments on “As Uber Implodes, President Jeff Jones Cancels His Six-Month Ride...”


  • avatar
    jalop1991

    Reality disrupts the kiddies.

    Film at 11.

  • avatar
    twotone

    I don’t want Uber, Lyft or any other ride share service to know who I am, where I am, where I am going or when I’m going there. If I could hail a ride share service anonymously and pay in cash count me in. Otherwise, I’ll take a cab.

    • 0 avatar
      orenwolf

      I do, especially in a city where I don’t know the proper routes to take, what the fare should cost, or whether or not there are any “airport fees” expected. Say what you want about local ridesharing, but in foreign cities, especially in foreign countries, they’re a major source of peace of mind. If I’m given the “tourist route” by a driver? I complain to Uber, not the driver, who refunds me in a non-combatitive environment, with a full detailing of the route I took. I pay them, not the cabbie, and my fee is calculated and shown to me before I ever get in.

      None of that is necessary locally, but when travelling, all of that is incredibly wonderful.

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      I don’t share your thoughts, and do not care if Uber knows the very un-interesting and unimportant details of my movements. If they can somehow monetize that information then good for them.

      The last time I flew into a large airport the wait for a traditional cab was about an hour.

      Uber picked me up in under 2 minutes, and took me to my hotel for half what a cab would cost.

      If the price I pay for that is the creation of a data point saying “some nobody is staying at some hotel somewhere” then I’m OK with it.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      You’ll need a distributed, most realistically open source, service for that. Transacting in bitcoin or some such. It’ll get there, but the two-way anonymity does mean you have to take a bit more responsibility for your own security etc.

      Allowing drivers plausible deniability against “pirate taxi” charges, will likely involve some rather cute reenactments of 50s era spy movie handshake phrases between driver and passenger as well. “Are you the Robert my friend, eh what was his name again…., emailed and asked me to pick up for him?” “Oh, you mean Nicholas?” “Yeah, hop in, I’ll take you there….” With the bitcoins transferred based on overlaying the driver’s and hailer’s phones’ GPS streams. Hence less opportunity for an obvious “Gothcha, you got paid without paying my bossman a $100K license fee,” if the hailer is a hired enforcer for the entrenched monopolists.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      It sounds like you’re not their target market and you probably should take a cab.

  • avatar
    MLS

    All the bad press is alarming, yes, but Uber is far from “imploding.”

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      They’re losing hundreds of millions of dollars and are entirely dependent on VC dollars to stay afloat.

      Imploding is entirely accurate.

      • 0 avatar
        orenwolf

        The company that comes out of the other side of this mess is either going to scale back expansion and belligerence in the name of profitability or be freed of the negative corporate culture and be a beast. It’s going to be interesting to see what the result is.

        Regardless, I predict that the Uber of 18-months-from-now is not going to be the Uber we have today.,

      • 0 avatar
        MLS

        They’ve been entirely dependent on VC dollars all along. Uber’s business isn’t suddenly unraveling as a result of scandal–it’s been unprofitable from the start. So, apart from a bunch of bad press about an easy target, what’s changed?

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      The ecosystem, algorithms and mindset will live on. Which is what matters.

      Exactly what happens to the Kardashians, and the ambulance chasers and other irrelevants angling to feed off their butts, is best left for teenage girls and other progressive indoctrinati to get all tied in a knot over.

  • avatar
    ect

    “I am making sure that the Uber team knows drivers are our customers”

    Really? Gee, I thought the customers were the schmucks who download the app and pay for the service.

    The drivers are part of the service delivery team, to be sure, and the quality of those front-line people is a critical part of the customer experience. But running a company on the basis that your “staff” are the customers of the business is a recipe for disaster – and a guy with Jones’ experience should know it.

    That being said, Kalanick’s childish “take no prisoners” approach to doing business doesn’t bode well for Uber’s future. I tell my start-up clients that as key to success is building and leveraging relationships with everyone you deal with. Pi$$ing everyone off generally doesn’t end well.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      ” “I am making sure that the Uber team knows drivers are our customers”

      Really? Gee, I thought the customers were the schmucks who download the app and pay for the service. ”

      It’s part of their fig-leaf rationalization that they’re a software company, not a cab company. The game they play to pretend that laws don’t apply to them is to claim that they’re just an intermediary offering to connect riders with divers. Thus, both the drivers and the passengers are equally “customers” of the internet dating service called Uber.

      Of course, they then openly concede that to be complete bullshit with their rush to cut drivers out of the equation altogether, and directly offer rides to passengers with fully automated cars.

    • 0 avatar
      TonyJZX

      But that’s the point of ‘disruptive’ ventures like Uber. There are no friends, there are no relationships worth fostering.

      I have deep concerns with the 20% cut they take and their terrible treatment of their drivers but the whole point of Uber and Airbnb and these other upstarts is that they are anti-establishment…

      Even Amazon and these stalwarts are of this ilk.

      • 0 avatar
        ect

        Maybe they’re only anti-establishment until they become part of the establishment. This pattern has certainly played out before.

        I attended a conference recently where one of the speakers was the woman whom the City of Toronto has tasked with coming up with a city policy on Airbnb and its ilk. There are certainly many sides of this issue (I do try to keep an open mind, painful though it can be), but one of her more interesting comments came from a focus group of people who own units they regularly rent out through Airbnb.

        Asked if the City should prohibit or otherwise regulate this business model, the participant were emphatic that it should not. Asked if they would voluntarily move into a unit next door to one that the owner operated as an Airbnb rental, they all said they would not.

        As the saying goes, where you stand depends on where you sit…

        • 0 avatar
          turf3

          Don’t most cities have regulations that forbid running an unlicensed boarding house or hotel in a residentially zoned area? Are they not enforcing these?

  • avatar
    Asdf

    The sharing economy hype is just a fad anyway, sooner or later people will be reminded of the advantages of owning their own stuff.

    • 0 avatar
      ect

      Asdf, I’m not so sure. In human society, the tend to urbanization is now about 3,000 years old, and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. In an urban society, car ownership can be a bigger hassle and expense than it’s worth, so for many people a combination of car-sharing and transit/taxi service makes a lot of sense. As urbanization grows, so will the use of non-ownership models.

      I would say that, at the end of the day, Uber and Lyft are merely taxi services with a technology gloss on them. They may affect how the “ride for hire” model evolves, but they aren’t a new form of transportation.

      • 0 avatar
        IHateCars

        ^Agreed. I find it funny that most would be against an unregulated, pirate taxi service but if you say that you can access it through an iphone, all of a sudden it legitimizes it as a great idea.

    • 0 avatar
      zerofoo

      I have a pretty successful friend who refuses to own a home. He says his money is put to far better use in investments, and he has the flexibility to pursue opportunities when they arise without being tied to home ownership.

      I’ve owned every car in my life so far, but I’m considering leasing next go round. Cheap leases are plentiful and not having to worry about timing belts, tires and brakes is quite nice. Hell, most leases I’m looking at are cheaper than my cell phone bill.

  • avatar
    turf3

    Because everything that can be associated with electronic doohickeys is inherently superior.

  • avatar
    turf3

    Today, the idea seems to be:

    “I know, I’ll just call up some person, who I nor anyone else knows from Adam, to take a totally unlicensed cab service in some car to some place. It’s especially a great idea to be a young, drunk woman getting an Uber ride from some unknown person. What could possibly go wrong?”

    But one of these days there will be a horrific incident probably involving sexual assault and murder, and then (unfortunately, only after the fact) people will start waking up to the advantages of having licensing regulations for cab companies.

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      There are over a million Uber rides per day; more than 2 billion total so far.

      Can you provide a single example of somebody being murdered by a driver?

      From a review of the news it appears as though drivers have much more to fear from passengers than the other way around.

      There may be valid reasons to avoid or oppose ridesharing apps, but “OMG, the driver will rape and kill me” doesn’t seem to be one of them.

      Uber at least gives the passengers an effective method to report and ultimately get rid of drivers who are unsafe or inappropriate. Good luck getting a cab driver fired.

      • 0 avatar
        fvfvsix

        @bikegoesbaa-
        Did you miss that whole thing in Kalamazoo last year? You’ll probably say “at least he didn’t kill a rider”, but that doesn’t make your assertion that no one has been murdered by an Uber driver a very strong point.

        • 0 avatar
          ect

          fvfvsix, to your point, I’m sure there are Uber drivers who are whackjobs, and that there are taxi drivers who are whackjobs. From a personal safety perspective, there may not be a lot to choose.

          A larger concern may be to what extent Uber drivers have insurance. A lot of standard auto policies are void if you carry passengers for hire – which is exactly what Uber and Lyft drivers do. Uber, in the past, has been pretty cavalier about this.

          • 0 avatar
            fvfvsix

            Honestly, I actually agreed with the sentiment of his post. The whackjob angle is played up far too often when people talk about ridesharing. I’d much rather take an Uber in Phoenix than a taxi if personal safety is the primary determining factor.

        • 0 avatar
          bikegoesbaa

          Obviously I meant that “Uber drivers typically don’t murder their passengers”.

          But lets say that it happened all the time. Once a day, even.

          That’s still better than 1/1,000,000 odds of *not* being murdered by an Uber driver as a passenger on any given day.

          I’m pretty comfortable with those odds, and would not be dissuaded from using the service.

          As the current rate appears to be 0/2,000,000,000+ it’s probably not worth worrying about.

  • avatar
    Peter Voyd

    I have issues with how Uber chooses to treat its drivers either as contractors or employees (no ability to set or negotiate prices, reject rides etc.), depending on Uber’s needs and convenience – but as I read about Greyball, I started admiring their nerve chutzpah. Talk about civil disobedience!

  • avatar

    Cue JoDee Messina. Bye Bye Uber!

  • avatar
    Whittaker

    In my city Uber drivers are regulated.
    They must show proof of license, insurance and registration. They undergo a personal background check. Their vehicles must undergo a extensive inspection by a licensed mechanic.
    Uber’s model forbids paying for services with cash, which enhances safety for both drivers and passengers.
    Also, there is a record of the identity of both the driver and the passenger, their addresses and phone numbers. Every ride is recorded as to exact route and time of pick-up and drop-off.
    I’m curious as to why some think riding with Uber is riskier than riding in a traditional cab.

  • avatar
    zerofoo

    All ride-sharing services are vulnerable. At their cores, Uber and Lyft are nothing more than software platforms that coordinate independent contractors.

    Essentially they are a giant phone book with only one type of business listing.

    How hard would it be for Google Maps to add a “Hail a driver now” button to their application? I’ll bet a group of engineers could have it developed and working in a week.

    Uber, Lyft and other ride sharing software platforms are nothing more than middlemen between a consumer and a supplier.

    Ironically the very internet that enables their business, is very good at eliminating middlemen.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    I’ve taken about a dozen Uber rides around Philly in the last year, and cannot report any problems. In every case they were easier, quicker and cheaper than securing a conventional cab ride. I used to knock it before I used it, but so far it’s worked just fine for me.


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