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Reflecting on one very, very strange year at Uber (susanjfowler.com)
4107 points by grey-area on Feb 19, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 1013 comments

>On my first official day rotating on the team, my new manager sent me a string of messages over company chat. He was in an open relationship, he said, and his girlfriend was having an easy time finding new partners but he wasn't.

Totally normal behavior! Who hasn't spoken about their sex life the very first day of interactions?

"Welcome to the team, we use Git for source control, all of our company knowledgebase is on Confluence, and I'm in an open sex relationship! See you at lunch!"

I can't fathom what kind of weirdo does something like this, male or female.

I would guess that this happens more often than you imagine. Women often don't share stories like this for fear of retribution at their current company or future companies, or because they think you won't believe them. In addition NDA's are often a condition of receiving severance.

Most women in Silicon Valley have had experiences similar to those mentioned in the article (HR disbelief, multiple women reporting same man to no effect, retaliation, legal threats, &c, &c).

The OP probably declined a severance package to write this.

Well, it sounds like she quit, wasn't fired/laid off, so a severence package probably doesn't apply (although if the rumors about how bad Uber is to work at are true, perhaps they do offer severance packages to those quitting...).

I know multiple women at other companies who have been offered severance after they quit just to keep quiet about how bad things are. Not rare.


My "data" is every woman I know in tech sharing this story with a comment like, "A version of this happened to me" or "I know so many people who have had this happen to them." Also multiple stories of women reporting harassment and being forced out of companies, as well as multiple women I know signing NDA's as a condition of receiving severance pay to avoid discussing a company's poor treatment or management of harassment.

Then don't write "I guess it is common", state the number of women who told you such things. Personally I haven't heard many such stories from women in tech.

Also differentiate between some colleague being interested in them and boss proposing sex on first day.

Have you tried asking them? It feels vaguely ridiculous to expect hard data and facts on things of "people told me". I know I have female friends who have told me similar stories, but I couldn't for the life of me remember how many, nor would I want to start iterating these anecdotes to a stranger on the internet. In exactly the same way it would be to start statistically analysing any other statement on "people told me [x]".

As for the latter, putting lines in the sand is a good way to be seen as not wanting to listen... I'm not saying that's what you're doing in this case, just how it comes across. Like, you've decided in advance what you want the result from the discussion to be, and no woman will be able to cross whatever standard you've chosen for inappropriate propositions (even when this is totally untrue).

I took issue with the "I guess it is very common that women expect that kind of harassment", because it plays into sexist stereotypes. I think in these matters )(sexism, racism, bias), it pays to be precise. How else can you counter bias? What if countless people told me they had been mugged by black people?

Don't understand your comment about lines in the sand. What do you mean?

A very large part of the problem is that claims of harassment are waved away, and the same people are allowed to harass again and again. There's a lot of evidence pointing to "believe women when they say they are harassed."

I didn't say anything about disbelieving any women - I take issue with simply "guessing" that stuff like that happens all the time. That is just confirming bias with bias, completely removed from reality.

Apart from that, I wonder what evidence you are talking about? References? How often are claims waved away? Or is that just something you intuitively know?

And by the way, people coming out in response to such an article is also just classic confirmation bias. You need to put stories in relation to the total workforce before you claim almost everybody gets harassed.

I remember a thread a few months ago where said the twitter feed google had up for promoting working at google was evidence google wasn't interested in hiring male coders anymore.

If only you applied such rigorous quantitative standards of evidence to your own claims.

Huh - that Twitter feed obviously is tilted towards only showing women and PoCs as engineers. It is not just a "guess" - you can look at that feed and check for yourself. And at least you can come to a different conclusion than me, because I cited the source. With "I guess", it is just a reinforcing reference to already existing bias. (For reference, here is the feed: https://twitter.com/lifeatgoogle )

I did look and we disagree. Perhaps you can quantify what you saw?

I'll give it a shot, going through the first 100 tweets or so counting men, women, skin colors, is that what you mean? Hope to get round to it later in the day.

And btw I think it gives the impression they don't want to hire men, it doesn't prove that Google doesn't want to hire (white) men. But if they are interested in hiring white men, they might check the message they are sending out.

For sure their reputation is so good that white men will probably still apply in droves, so whatever (same probably goes for women and PoCs, anyway). But in my opinion they will also drive away some people. (edited to add "in my opinion")

And as I said - it is fine if you disagree, but at least there is something tangible to disagree on. That's different from simply playing into some stereotypes. Seriously, you are defending here the equivalent of "I have heard all blacks are criminals, and therefore it is true, no matter what you say". Wtf?

>But they will also drive away some people.

What evidence do you have for this?

My feelings :-) Granted, that is not yet "some", only one, but with millions of white men on the planet, chances seem high others see it the same way.

If you really want to nitpick, quantify my sentence with "in my opinion".

Absolute confirmation bias.

I can't wait for your quantification of the life at google twitter.

Well I don't have that much time, so for now I only looked at pictures with people in them they have posted since December 1.

Simply counting people yields 29% white women, 19% women of color, 21% men of color, 30% white men.

Not a very exact science, though - I left out groups above a certain size (for example picture from Anti-Trump demonstration or MLKday), and in some cases I couldn't recognize the people. Many white men come from office shots where they linger in the background, whereas there are many tweets explicitly featuring female or black engineers. It seems by only looking at their "media timeline" I also missed photos like this one: https://twitter.com/Every28HoursPla/status/83166688771703193... (which they retweeted).

I'll try to find time for a better "analysis", ideally including texts.

Compared to last time there seem to be now more posts boasting technology at Google. For example there were several about Tensor Flow, all featuring the same white guy (I counted him for every instance).

I couldn't find the time when I last posted about lifeatgoogle, would have liked to look at their tweets from around then.

For comparison employee stats from 2014: http://mashable.com/2014/05/28/google-employee-demographics/... - 70% male, 91% white or asian.

So what's your conclusion?

HN won't give me a reply button further down, and I want to go to bed, so I am replying here:

Yes, it reflects demographics of the US, but not demographics of tech or demographics of Google employees. So the account definitely doesn't reflect life at Google in an unbiased way.

Also, I tried to err on the side of counting too many whites. For example I counted this screenshot from an animation movie as two whites: https://twitter.com/lifeatgoogle/status/824649101069455361 I counted the blurry people in the background of this office: https://twitter.com/lifeatgoogle/status/817466019526610947 but I only counted 2 PoCs here despite the further pictures with more https://twitter.com/lifeatgoogle/status/822528000646381568 I also missed a lot of pictures because I didn't realize the retweets wouldn't be in the "media list".

I just made it up on the fly for a quick, simple metric. It would be better to decide beforehand what counts, for example if the person should be the item of a news story, should be presented as an engineer, stuff like that. And a longer time. I think I had 150 people, so the animation picture alone accounted for more than 1% of the final count of white people. As I said, some office shots greatly raised the white people count, counting only people who were subject of major stories would have lowered the percentage a lot.

Maybe you are jumping to conclusions because they confirm your beliefs?

Actually I had no idea what the demographic percentages of the US were before I looked them up.

Your original point was that you thought Google wasn't interested in hiring male engineers anymore. The current demographics of Google are irrelevant to Google's hiring strategy. Why would they be?

You're not only displaying confirmation bias in the way you are trying to undermine the clearest quantification you have access to, but you're also avoiding your original statement.

You initially presented the lifeatgoogle twitter feed as evidence, and you had no quantifiable evidence that it was biased. Now that you do have a quantification, you're walking back the importance of that evidence. Perhaps you're doing this so you can maintain your poorly quantified view?

If only you gave as much latitude to other people.

My claim about them not presenting any white males was from another time - do you recall by any chance when it was? As I explained, the sample size I used now was small, and a few pics can have made a big difference. I think when I made the claim there were different pictures, that is why I said more data should be looked at (to reduce random variation). I probably wouldn't have made the claim about the current timeline.

And again - I only used one simple metric, which already shows bias (it doesn't represent the actual demographics of Google employees). You assume now that metric is conclusive because it fits your conviction. By looking into more aspects the picture would be more clear.

And where do I not give latitude to other people?

>You assume now that metric is conclusive because it fits your conviction.

No, you're now walking back your claims because the one metric you have quantified doesn't fit your conviction. At the time you claimed that by simply looking at the feed you could tell it was biased. You initially made the claim that the lifeatgoogle twitter was related evidence to your claim that google wasn't interested in hiring men anymore. I'm not silly enough to claim that a brief perusal of a twitter account can be extrapolated into a claim about a company's hiring strategy.

Thanks to your quantification, we have some evidence to suggest the lifeatgoogle twitter is fairly representative of population demographics along gender and racial lines, at least in the US. I don't see the data as conclusive of anything more than that.

This time around there were more white men, I think - in part because of some specials like Tensor Flow, or a picture from an actual office.

It is still biased against white men (if it is supposed to reflect the actual distribution of Google employees), but not as extreme as last time. I really would like to find the date of my last comment about it. Also perhaps simply more data is needed - a single picture with several people could shift the results here, because I checked only pics from 2.5 months.

Also better methodology needed, this was just a quick shot looking into one simple metric.

You're again, falling victim to confirmation bias by rejecting the best quantification you've provided yet.

Lets examine the data you've provided - 29% white women, 19% women of color, 21% men of color, 30% white men.

This data is entirely in line with the demographics of the US. About 50/50 on gender and 60% white. In fact, given google's global hiring reach, these figures are actually biased towards white people - while about spot on for gender. This entirely contradicts the point you were originally pointing to this twitter feed as confirmation of.

If anything, this thread has just made me newly impressed with Google's approach to inclusion. It's also really, really obvious that the person you are responding to isn't able to reconcile seeing PoC and women with their own world view.

Huh wtf - what does seeing women and PoCs have to do with a "world view"? You think I am not aware that women and PoCs exist?

Exactly. You don't understand. So stop talking and start listening to the women around you, yeah?

Which women? There were no women mentioned, just a guess that it happens often. There was one article by one woman that is the topic here. Afaik nobody claimed that her story is unbelievable.

> Personally I haven't heard many such stories from women in tech.

Women learn from a very young age to be very selective about who they trust, in a much more nuanced way than men do.

If you haven't heard such stories from women, it's quite probably because they're not comfortable telling you such things.

There aren't even that many women in tech who could tell such stories. Your argument is really quite worthless because it could be used to prove anything.

In any case, as I mentioned in another comment, a collection of stories is not a good way to gauge the problem. You need to put it into context - number of women in total, and also, what happens to men. Stories like this suggest that only women ever have bad experiences at companies. But you can find lots of male reports of being unhappy at a company, too. Why isn't that reason for men to quit in droves? Presumably the Uber-woman is happy with her new job at Stripe, too.

Consider that you may not be a safe person for women to tell such stories too, if your first instinct is going to be to minimize and dismiss.

I didn't minimize or dismiss any woman's story: the isssue here is the reference to imaginary women's imaginary stories. I can not dismiss an imaginary story, because it doesn't exist.

The issue is that because of bias against men, few people even realize that they are talking about completely fabricated assumptions in this thread.

And again: there are not even that many women who could tell such stories. I'd say 1 in 20 software developers at companies I worked for were female. So it is not a case of me not being told things by women on a significant scale. The women didn't tell me such stories because those women don't exist to begin with.

It would be nice to believe that all these reported events are exceptional, and to an extent they are atypical, but it is indicative of a fairly broken work culture that such things happen.

Until recently, I'd only ever read accounts of bad things like this happening at certain conferences, and not seen anything first hand. A few months back, one of the female staff on our team changed their github picture. When mentioning this in conversation, it turned out that random people (not physically at work, but github users who did not know any of us in person) were harassing/propositioning her solely due to that image. What sort of screwed up person does that?! People should be able to do their jobs without dealing with crap like that.

"all these reported events" - what do you mean? There was one event reported here, and a "guess" that it happens often.

I don't doubt men are often attracted to women, even colleagues. Whether that alone should count as sexist harassment I consider debatable, but in any case it is not the same level as a boss proposing sex on the first work day, with threat of career disadvantages for rebuffing the offer.

There have been a few high profile incidences of fairly bad things happening over the last year; see the code of conduct introduced at some conferences after some of them. Some people just don't know how to behave appropriately, sad to say. This story being a poster child for how not to behave, and how not to handle the situation properly if you're in HR.

And regarding the last paragraph, I'm not talking about anything in the workplace between colleagues or otherwise. I'm talking about creepy strangers propositioning people they have never ever met or communicated with, on github. github is not a dating or hookup site for strangers. It's for sharing and collaborating on code. There are other, more appropriate, sites for dating- and hookup-related activities with willing participants who opted into it. No one wants or needs to deal with strangers propositioning them through the tools they use for their professional work. You should not feel required to hide your appearance or identity to be comfortable doing your job without being harassed, unsolicited, by strangers.

The codes of conduct are unfortunately sanctimonious non-sense to beat people over the head with. Those who champion them never apply the rules to themselves, and those who really want to harass pay them no heed. This was already the case with Adria Richards and her dongle joke offense, where she harassed a guy by putting his photo on Twitter and cost him his job, and got lauded for it by gender activists and news articles alike. While citing the code of conduct.

Real harassment is already illegal. Conduct policies can only serve in the gray area where people do not want to get police involved, but still want to exact some form of retribution and punishment, often by playing the politics game. It empowers the wrong people for the wrong reasons. It also creates the illusion that tech is particularly nasty, when the exact opposite is true: despite what activists claim, it is far more meritocratic than most industries, and far more reliant on tools and methods that emphasize work over personality and identity.

The propositioning, this is a fact of life: men propose, women dispose, and it's creepy unless he's attractive. Fact is, people like to date people with similar interests, they meet in all sorts of contexts, and some are more tactful about it than others. That doesn't mean it's automatically harassment to be flirted with outside of a dating site or bar night, or that it's never welcome.

One asshole manager is just one asshole manager, and such crudeness is the exception, not the norm.

Some people would love to receive just an ounce of affection and appreciation just for merely showing up, so being able to complain about it is the luxury of the desirable. Especially when, as I've often seen, it's paired with exasperated stories of how so-and-so just won't take the endless "clear hints" that have been made, but a polite but firm "sorry, flattered but not interested" is never actually provided. We are told we must be more empathetic, but the empathy for the socially awkward or the lonely, those who are bad at reading social cues, that's never on the table. All this talk of "safe spaces" seems to vanish once it's the real nerds and geeks, the 'losers' who need consideration.

Just keep in mind, HR is mostly a female-staffed endeavour, and the passive aggressive and underhanded interaction described is certainly not typical of male interaction styles. If it's a poster child for how not to behave, I don't think those griping about techbros and misogyny are quite thinking through the implications here.

I don't think tech is more meritocratic then other jobs. Various signalings and posturings and confidencw often count so much more then merit. We don't even know how to define merit and never ever talk about what merit is.

Also, if she reported you to hr, then you should consider it hint clearest possible. We are not even talking about subtle misunderstandings here, he invited new employee to have sex.

Stop blaming douchebaghery on geekiness or nerdiness, most geeks are not like that.

Also, there is little direct about male keeping business info away from competitor or retroactively lowering her review scores to keep her. The politics there was ugly as fuck and had zero to do with merit.

The code of conduct also implies (male) visitors of conferences are rapists unless told otherwise. I personally find it very off putting if a conference of meetup has such a code of conduct. Not because I want to rape or harass (I don't), but because it is insulting.

I think if you organize an event, you should be allowed to assume your target group are good people. For people who nevertheless step over the line, the normal standards of decency apply and they can be dealt with, CoC or no.

finding data about underreporting of sexual harassment in the workplace is by definition difficult, since it is by definition not being reported, so anecdotes are all we have in many cases.

If you want a source though, here is one: (https://hbr.org/2016/10/why-we-fail-to-report-sexual-harassm...)

In this case, the data is moot. It doesn't matter if 10% of women experience this, or 90%. Whether or not it is a problem is not in debate. It is a problem. Preventing sexual harassment is everyone's responsibility, even if you are not the one harassing.

Of course the scale of the problem makes a difference. People are also being murdered on a daily basis, but we don't claim it affects the labor force at scale (like "there is a shortage of women in STEM because they have all been murdered"). Just like murders should be prevented, sexual harassment should be prevented. But that doesn't necessarily make it a large scale problem.

As for the linked problem, I criticize that it doesn't properly define sexual harassment. The comparison here is to a guy who proposed sex on a first work day and threatened a stunted career. Is that really what women experience all the time. Or is it mostly that an unwanted colleague is attracted to them? The methodology is also not clear (very likely they only asked women, which seems rather one-sided. For "real" crime there is a reason for there being courts and judges).


what do you mean?


If you think a comment shouldn't be on HN you can downvote it or flag it.

There's a high karma threshold for voting. There's a lower karma threshold for flagging. Flagging (I think) should be reserved for serious violations. The flag button appears if you click the timestamp of the post.

Please do not talk to anyone, male or female, like this.

Unfortunately the 'I am in an open relationship, want to fuck?' line is something that I've seen more than once, initiated by both men and women engineers. At least one of those examples goes to a lot of conferences, and pretty much opens with that line to people in the opposite sex, and has a Twitter following in the 5 digits.

I am also aware of a funded dev tools startup that has a single woman engineer: She happens to share a bed with the CEO every so often. Imagine how comfortable that must be for any other woman that might join the company, or anyone sharing a team with said woman engineer.

So I have seen the kind of weirdos that do something like this. I don't wish them on my worst enemy.

> I can't fathom what kind of weirdo does something like this, male or female.

People who get off on violating other people's boundaries.

Or who can get away with it.

Sex addict is the term that comes to mind.


Please stop posting uncivilly and unsubstantively like this.


What's with all the 'this is unbelievable' comments here?

This is absolutely believable, Uber has pretty much made it their standard to break the laws where-ever they can, why should work place conduct be any different? In for a penny, in for a pound.

You'd never hear something even close to this from Stripe or some other company run by upstanding folks.

Fish rots from the head.

I fully expected this thread to be a shitshow, but comments here are overwhelmingly supportive of Fowler, and except perhaps for the very bottom of the thread, I don't see much much "this is unbelievable" at all. I'm pleasantly surprised.

It is good to see the support here. I am unpleasantly surprised at the comments admonishing her for not lawyering up, though. She bothered to write publicly, which is more than anyone outside the situation could rightly ask. She wrote very well on painful, personal events and I think can be proud of how she handled it. It opens the door for others, and Uber management is going to have to deal with it one way or another this week.

I give stuff like that a pass. We're the "well, actually" capital of the Internet (or at least one of the "well, actually" major metros). I think we all just want to be able to participate in the discussion and are not very tactful about crowbarring our way into it.

I don't feel like I read a lot admonishment (which would take forms like "by not suing you're complicit in harm to other women" or "if your story was really credible it would involve a lawyer"). I do feel like I read a lot of "you know, you could also..." or "this is a good example of why...".

> "if your story was really credible it would involve a lawyer"

Damned if you do, damned if you don't. "Aha, she's got a lawyer! She's making up this nonsense to try and get a fat cash payout from Uber!"

"Well actually" capital indeed. I must remember where I am :)

Admonishment was probably too strong on my part, but I read the lawyer comments as more, "You should..."

Personally, I'm certain she's lawyered up, and has all the screenshots she needs to defend against a defamation lawsuit. There's no way a smart person like her would write this without all her ducks in a row.

That's a good point, and it's perhaps insulting to assume otherwise given the available information at this point.

Maybe because it is more of a clear-cut case of sexism and workplace intimidation, than, say, ones about “watching your co-workers hula-hooping” (https://techcrunch.com/2014/03/15/julie-ann-horvath-describe...) or “making a joke about dongles”? (https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/03/how-dongle-jokes...)

Those cases invoke skepticism because they twist otherwise innocuous situations and try to blow them up into witch hunts where people lose their livelihood. No one should lose their job because an accusatory party happened to overhear them making a stupid juvenile dongle joke.

Susan's case on the other hand has clear, well-defined accusations of people acting in what sounds like unprofessional and sexist behavior to anyone with common sense. People should get fired if they ask their subordinates for sex multiple times. No wonder it (rightly) gets a lot of support.

The whole Julie Ann Horvath incident was way more than hula-hooping. Although, I think your underselling how things like that can create a deeply uncomfortable work environment for women.

I don't consider the dongle situation to be a story of institutional sexism at all, but one of a positive feedback loop of poor judgment and/or overreaction, by many of the people involved.

I would caution you from believing that anything less than a serious of incidents this meticulously documented shouldn't be taken seriously (e.g. Horvath's report). Most people are firstly concerned with being good at their jobs, not identifying the thread of sexist or harassing behavior underlying a bunch of incidents separated in time. Often, only in retrospect can the trend be seen. And by that time, it's difficult to find all the hard evidence.

Institutional sexism is rarely someone deciding to treat another person poorly, because they are a woman. More often, it's someone making a judgment call in a complex situation that turns out (due to their biases or lack of empathy) to exclude or demean women. The pattern of such things is what creates an unwelcoming and taxing environment. How many mental cycles must it take to cope with all of that bullshit? Most people's performance would suffer, leading to the conclusion that women just can't hack it. It's pretty incredible that the author thrived professionally, in the meantime.

Note that an environment of baseline hostility toward women may or may not be garnished with openly sexist behavior, as it was in this case.

How many mental cycles does it take to deal with any amount of bullshit? Claims of specific "institutional oppression" rightly deserve skepticism. It's like a Rorschach test; squint hard enough and you can make anything look like oppression. We all deal with a lot of bullshit at work, and in most cases, it's best just to accept that people are complicated and messy, but mostly well-intentioned, rather than stressing out over the "potentially discriminatory" institutional patterns.

Hula-hoops? Oppression because men may ogle. No hula-hoops, only video games and ping-pong? Oppression because the management isn't sensitive to the feminine interest in softer recreational activities, like expression through movement and dance. Either of these are plausible complaints.

Open-plan office? Great, creativity-boosting boon for employees that ensures everyone will build strong working relationships, and shows the employer's interest in fostering an open, collaborative environment where there are literally no barriers, physical or metaphorical, between teammates.

Or, wait, is it open-plan offices: Degrading, dystopian wage slave farm that ensures one manager can see all 50 monitors in the room at once and pounce at the first moment that someone switches to a Facebook tab, and a disrespectful mockery of a professional's need to concentrate on their important and serious work which could literally stop the company's cashflow if a minor mistake gets made in the wrong spot?

The point here is not to trivialize or to necessarily equate sexual harassment with other types of uncomfortable working situations, but to demonstrate that when what you admit is a "complex judgment call" is presented, flaws can usually be found no matter what decision is made. Judgment calls become complex rather than simple because there are substantial tradeoffs involved in all available options.

That's a lot different than having timestamped messages and strong documentation backing up explicit and clearly inappropriate advances from your immediate superiors. There's a lot less gray area to defend there.

It's the weekend. The pros are no more likely to take a busman's holiday than anyone else.

What scares me is that there is no evidence, only allegation. Yet people are jumping on the bandwagon, making sure to pillory anything they disagree with in connection to an alleged incident. Guess what? People lie. Until some proof is offered, you should treat the accuser with dignity but assume the story is false.

If Party A accuses Party B of misconduct and Party B claims that the accusation is false (explicitly or implicitly), then someone is lying. If you aim to be nobly impartial until compelling evidence is available, the logically appropriate response is not "assume the story is false" but "assume the truth of the story is unknown". There's no purely logical reason to treat one story or the other as the one that should be believed by default. (Mind you, you don't have to refuse to make any judgement at all before irrefutable evidence is available. I personally believe that there are better approaches.) In this case, I don't know whether Uber has given any sort of response (whether to affirm or deny any of this), but absence of a denial certainly can't be construed to make their case stronger.

I too often see a tendency for people to treat claims of wrongdoing more skeptically than counterclaims of innocence, especially where gender is involved. That makes me very, very uneasy.

Until you have proved something has happened, it must be assumed that it did not happen. There is no reason to assume something is true just because someone claims it happened. Especially when it is a claim that can severely damage reputations, livelihoods, and lives.

Treating someone as a liar, however tentatively, can also severely damage reputations, livelihoods, and lives. There is not a neutral option here. (Or at least, a neutral balance is very delicate and hard to find, and your approach is emphatically not.)

And I will point out that the course you advocate places those consequences on the party who, if truthful, has already suffered harm. That outcome is certainly not better than people assuming bad things, however tentatively, about the target of a false accusation would be.

There is also no reason to assume something is false just because someone claims it happened. It's irrational to assume ANYTHING about a claim, was the point. But okay, I'll start assuming everything is false. Starting with your comment.

Why would she expose herself to libel laws? Why would she risk her career? Is she not capable of describing her experience and be seen as a witness to her own treatment?

I have no problem with describing one's alleged experience. I take issue with treating it as the truth, despite providing no evidence. This is all unsubstantiated hearsay.

It's not hearsay, it's testimony. Hearsay would be Susan telling us what she heard from someone else.

I guess some of it would be hearsay, as some of her story involves what other engineers were telling her, but yeah, this is firsthand testimony, no doubt with plenty of screenshots/emails/etc to document.

Yeah, I definitely reserve more skepticism for those things she reported second hand, though they certainly still merit examination.

If taking a billion dollars from the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia says something about a company's stance regarding women's equality, what it says is not terribly inconsistent with Fowler's story.

That's an interesting angle that I had not considered. That money is such a weird thing from another viewpoint as well, it means that Uber doesn't have to perform at all for the next decade or so, they can basically wait out all of their competition. It removes every incentive to actually perform which might be just what it takes to kill them.

I hate to use the phrase 'it's only a billion dollars' but at the sort of scale it strives to operate, that's not a massive warchest without follow on investment: e.g. Delta Airlines turns over about $40 billion in revenue a year and a 2.5% subsidy would gobble up a billion. If the actual subsidies are in the double digits that billion starts to look more like a normal 12-24 month funding round [1].

If it dies, it will be via dependence on meat space. There's only so much of moving atoms that can be digitally replaced and the core business is a commodity: it could compete with taxis because rides between A and B are mostly fungible and being better than existing taxi service was not a very high bar and being better than standing in the rain waving your arm was not a high bar either.

I'm sure it's software engineering is really good. But over the long term, it can only provide marginal advantages to a business that boils down to personal services.

[1]: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-12-20/uber-s-lo...

Well, once they permanently replace the ongoing cost, they will be highly profitable.


This one is not Uber, but you get the idea.


>it means that Uber doesn't have to perform at all for the next decade or so

more like little over 1 year [0]. Originally wanted to say 2 years, didn't know loss climbed to $3B last year.


I imagine that the real loss was higher, considering there was "revenue" in the form of selling UberChina.

I've always wondered what Uber is going to do when their self-driving cars can legally drive in Saudi Arabia, but women can't. Seems like they're going to run up against that pretty soon.

I would expect "enjoy the revenue from female customers wanting to be able to take a car to where they want".

Sometimes profit and social goals happen to align.

If anything, OP's subsequent employment by Stripe is a very strong endorsement for the workplace culture of the company.

I actually used Stripe as an example before I realized that's where she had moved to so consider that a double endorsement, it's not like I have any dog in that particular race but I know some people that work there and without fault they report working there is a dream come true.

The brothers have something good going there and I'll bet that when the dust settles Uber will be part of that dust and Stripe will have IPO'd or similar (possibly even this year).

This is how it's done:


I wish I shared your optimism that HR practices had anything to do with IPO pricing...

At some level they are linked.

Uber will have to learn to play within existing frameworks.

Key Nordic proverb: "Pissing in your pants keeps you warm only for so long". In other words, using your funds raised to make up for shortcomings elsewhere in the organization will sooner or later come to and end.

That's an excellent proverb, and the way things are going in my neck of the woods, I feel like I'm going to get a lot of mileage out of it.

Stripe seems to hire an unusual amount of really talented engineers who are also really good at explanatory writing. (Though this may just be an availability bias thing for me.)

Fowler is one. Julia Evans is another that comes to mind.

I wouldn't be surprised if they had amazing internal documentation for their engineers.

They have amazing external documentation. It was so good I [blogged about it](https://dev.clintonblackburn.com/2015/07/24/good-documentati...)! I have never had an easier experience integrating with a payment processor.

Their recent guide on incorporation and taxes for startups was the simplest take on legalese I'd seen

Etsy is another company with extraordinarily talented writers. Their engineering blog "CodeAsCraft"[0] is superb and I invariably learn something everytime I read it.

[0] https://codeascraft.com/

Is it? A person in need of a lifeboat will take one.

Also, the author repeatedly used the percentage of women engineers as an index of workplace quality/sanity. So we'd expect Stripe's to be much higher, right?

Is that the case?

Right, because moving from one market leading tech company to another, with a book deal and tech talks thrown in for good measure, is the definition of "needing a lifeboat" in software engineering.

It's not like she got a job working at the DMV or something.

Going from 26% to 6% of any particular description of employees that quickly is probably not a good sign for quality/sanity.

I'd feel the same way if, say, s/women/conservatives/ or s/women/$minority/.

I am surprised that you would include an active political choice with immutable personal characteristics. Some companies are purposefully political; it is why they hire lobbyists. They may also take positions, such as support of their own transgender employees or buying insurance that fully covers women's health care, that are objectionable to many conservatives. I could see things unrelated or even positive for business repelling conservatives.

The same is true of some other dynamics. I've seen an exodus of young men from a team because a new boss came in who didn't think sexual harassment was acceptable workplace behavior. The excuse was "the workplace isn't fun anymore", but before that it wasn't fun for people who didn't enjoy spending all of lunch talking about how to pick up chicks. Or for technical quality, if a company is successful the engineer who didn't want to write tests or get code reviews is going to rage-quit at all the "extra process" that keeps them from breaking the build on a Saturday night like they used to.

Sometimes when conflict emerges, a company has to take a side and whichever side is alienated is going to end up leaving. The question then is which side did the company come down on.

>Also, the author repeatedly used the percentage of women engineers as an index of workplace quality/sanity. So we'd expect Stripe's to be much higher, right?

Don't have the answer for you. But I would say the repeated lies by HR she stated in defending repeat offenders, and having the same reports of harassment by her female coworkers over the same managers speaks more to the quality/sanity of the place than percentage of women in the workplace.

Learnt that lesson the hard way - as an independent consultant working with local businesses, did some work with a seemingly successful guy who boasted about how he always got a good deal/complained about service and got money back etc. Surprise, surprise, a month later he did that to me too, including stupid petty things like trying to pay the invoice without the VAT.

What goes around comes around.

I still support our local taxi company and talk to the drivers who take me (typically to/from the airport). Many of them have had experiences with Uber and don't have good things to say. However their traditional business is struggling.

Over the years I've learned that most of the time people tell you they are going to rip you off before hand. Not flat out directly, but they'll provide deliberate warnings because it makes it makes it easier to rationalize what they are going to do. The best test for whether or not someone will pay me is whether or not they will write me a check up front. People who intend to pay are ok with it, people who don't intend to pay aren't.

The one comment that literally matches "this is unbelievable" isn't saying it literally.

Well said. Those of us who have worked with folks in management at Uber or who have friends who have worked at Uber all know very well what Uber is like. This is no more shocking than discovering that Amazon is a brutal, highly political workplace. People in tech just don't want to admit that their little playground is a cesspool of discrimination, entitlement and bigotry. That's all.

I absolutely believe it but find it astonishing that a company can behave like this.

So, not sure what you're referring to but perhaps people are using unbelievable as a synonym for astonishing. ie. not literally.

Ok, thanks for pointing that out. Even so, I also don't find it astonishing. It's about as surprising as the sun rising tomorrow.

I think the "this is unbelievable" comments are coming from people who have worked in the industry for a long time -- but not at Uber -- who are surprised that this sort of thing not only goes on, but that HR appears to be advocating the behavior through inaction.

At least from my anecdotal experience, I've never seen anything like this among the four companies and 20 years I've been in software development and engineering. Granted, the percentage of women who were in technical, non-management, positions[0] hovered around 20%. In those cases, the skillsets of the women ranged as much as it did the men and all of the folks I worked with treated each other, regardless of gender, respectfully and professionally.

I wouldn't imagine seeking a date with co-worker. What happens when you break up? Do you want to bring that to work with you ever day? At the companies I've worked for, I know of one incident where a person was let go for "having a crap-ton of porn on his work PC" that someone from security noticed when the proxy logs flagged his workstation. This individual was a VP, a "high performer" and was very well like. He was also out on his hide a few hours after his laptop was seized and inspected. This was with no reports from women even hinting that he'd acted inappropriately on the job. And we had nobody inspecting proxy logs looking for this sort of thing -- that guy in security who happened upon his workstation ended up being there because he was investigating a malfunction, but because of corporate agreements we'd all signed, he was obligated to report what he found[2].

I hate to say it, but this is the kind of behavior I'd expect out of teenagers, not adult men. And it's one of those things you usually don't have to tell people not to do. Though I have no experience with this specific kind of behavior, I've noticed that when people fail on morally obvious things, they're often failing on many other things and I would be worried if I were an investor about having my money tied up in a company that had this kind of a reputation -- what other laws does this corporate culture find acceptable to break? I'd be twice as concerned if this were my employer -- not just out of fear of being harassed, but out of fear that a company with these kinds of ethical lapses is often quickest to screw those who work for them (or take them down with them). No way.

[0] Perhaps my experience is unusual, but for 17 years the VP level individuals in my teams have been women, I've reported to a Director level employee who was a woman and I've had a woman for a manager on more than one occasion.

[1] Thus far, I know only of this account, which without additional data is as anecdotal as my comment, here, but based on others piling on, I am inclined to believe that there's a real problem here.

[2] Paraphrased, we were basically required to report everything even if we were not directly involved, but if I saw something this inappropriate, I wouldn't need a signed agreement to persuade me -- I had full confidence in the HR teams at the places I was at and knew it would be handled appropriately.

We don't have to look very hard to find examples of sexual harassment lawsuits that the four major tech companies have lost.

Anecdotally, I have been organizationally close (same manager, adjacent team) to serious misconduct and was completely oblivious to it, finding out about the wrongdoing years later.

It is likely that Uber is alone with its scope of HR incompetence and wrongdoing. Although their SRE is supposed to have been lifted straight from Google and Facebook, the sexual harassment cases from those organizations didn't involve nearly as much dishonesty and apathy by their Human Resources sections.

I've worked in the industry for 25 years. I'm not shocked. It's no surprise at all. The only people who are saying "it's unbelievable" are people who have worked VERY hard to not see disgusting bigotry and rampant unprofessionalism that is endemic in this industry.

I've got to disagree here, and again, I'm going off of personal experience at only four companies. On the one hand, of the four companies, three were well established, and none were startups -- however, in a strike against them as far as discrimination is concerned, the they were in telecom and performed layoffs once to twice a year of about 5-10% of staff (more during 2007-2008). The only blatant cases of discrimination I witnessed were two occasions where older employees were let go due to them being close to retirement age[0].

Accusing individuals of turning a blind eye to discrimination is a pretty strong charge. An equally strong charge would be to state that some individuals go out of their way to look for discrimination where none exists and call those individuals something akin to "snowflakes". To be clear: I don't, personally, believe either of these things, but I think it's important to play Devil's Advocate from time to time.

Another possibility is that people saying "it's unbelievable" do so because they, themselves, wouldn't dream of acting in this manner or being part of a team where this kind of behavior went on. And I think some people disregard "bigotry and rampant unprofessionalism" because human nature tends toward avoiding confrontation (or risking one's job by causing a problem for an influential manager). That last bit is the worst case because it causes the problem to be sanctioned through inaction, it damages the company, its shareholders, its customers and its employees[1], which causes a feedback loop making it even harder to stand up when something unethical is witnessed.

[0] This was done because the managers thought it was the best option for everyone -- the two guys were with the company a long time, would receive a very big severance package (this company had a great severance offering) and they were preventing another few employees from being let go who were younger with families. Unfortunately, I know that in one case, the individual let go was both a high performer and had no desire to retire at retirement age. It was ugly and I nearly left the company after it happened (I only stayed because they were being bought out and the new company was taking us over -- it was as good as getting a new job as the two places didn't resemble each other on anything but paper).

[1] And I get it -- I was personally told on one occasion by my boss that he "had just spent an hour convincing our VP that I should keep my job" because I pointed out a large license violation I had discovered and wasn't aware that the person responsible for that (unintentional) licensing oversight was in the room. In the end, though, I would have done it regardless and my actions resulted in that manager being forced to work with the vendor, avoided an audit and negotiation got us pennies on the dollar to become compliant, again.

Even if this wasn't Uber, it's totally believable.

I am struggling to think of something productive to contribute to this discussion, because this absolutely incensed me.

In lieu of anything else: Susan deserves to be commended for her bravery in writing this.

If an Uber recruiter contacts you, bring this up and tell them their nonfunctioning HR department makes working for their company a non starter.

If you work at Uber, quit, and/or contact the board and tell them that this behavior is unacceptable and the people responsible need to be fired. If the culture won't change, the CEO needs to be fired.

If you work in tech, bring up this article with your manager or CEO and tell them that this behavior is unacceptable, opens the company up to ridiculous amounts of lawsuit risk, will hurt recruiting, depress morale, and that you will quit if harassment complaints aren't taken seriously.

> If an Uber recruiter contacts you, bring this up and tell them their nonfunctioning HR department makes working for their company a non starter.

This. Companies don't change until there's a huge price to be paid for not changing. When top recruits start turning down Uber because of their sexist policies/politics, then Uber will be forced to change.

In addition, the only people left at Uber will be people who think this behavior is acceptable. In that case, it will only be a matter of time before there is a lawsuit.

Thinking about the attrition rate of female engineers, I wonder if there's a similar rate of male engineers who leave due to how badly their female colleagues are treated in addition to the other factors listed in this thread and Fowler's piece.

If so, that would imply that the engineering culture is being distilled into an evermore toxic workplace, since those who stay are those who make the place toxic or are simply people who try to work around it.

It would take an extremely focused and persistent effort on the part of upper management to change this trajectory before the company implodes, as I suspect is inevitable in the long run should my assumptions prove accurate.

I really doubt this. A lot of men are totally unaware of how women are treated, which fellow men on their team are harassers, or don't believe women when they report harassment. My evidence for this is every man in tech reacting with shock to this story, and every woman I know saying "yep, I have a story like this," or "I know many women with stories like this"

The behavior discussed in her story includes stuff that's not sexual harassment, though. A sizable chunk of it is about poisonous office politics, something pretty much everyone would be aware of and which most people dislike. So it's not hard to believe people with better options would leave, regardless of gender, leaving people who either like that sort of politics (some do) or don't have better options.

> My evidence for this is every man in tech reacting with shock to this story

You've interviewed us all, have you?

I don't find the accusations surprising or outside the realm of possibility at all.

An alternative (and I believe intended) reading of this line is

My evidence for this is every man in tech who is reacting with shock to this story

rather than

My evidence for this is that every man in tech is reacting with shock to this story

So you were also shocked by this story?

If not, I guess neither of us exist, because I (sadly) wasn't.

Edit: Originally said: So let's leave out the "every man" crap and focus on making the world a better place, please.

As grzm points out, I'm an idiot. Disregard the above sentence.

But still, people who wouldn't appreciate this crap definitely exist, and our quitting/refusing to be recruited would likely still make a point.

I think you're likely misreading the sentence: see


Edit: minor wording change.

Thanks; edited original.

I would quit. I wouldn't want to see people treated that way.

I've seen a 100% male company (quite small, not 75-100 people) and seriously worried about how things would go when some women were hired. Bit rough at first but it worked out for them (luckily). In a small company a bad lawsuit or two could be a serious threat to the survival of the place.

Men can be mistreated and leave on their own, they don't need to have female colleagues suffer.

A lot of what is in this article is not even exclusive to women.

Culture has a long inertia, it replicates and grows by itself. So yes, toxic workplace become ever more toxic and no a toxic culture cannot be improved.

If you work at a company that already fires anyone who acts like that, and later use them during the on-boarding given to all new employees as real life examples of how you do NOT run a proper business... well, enjoy your workplace :D

Sure, definitely.

Where do I send the bills for my groceries, then? Would you prefer email or snailmail?

The people with the most leverage at Uber to make a difference would have their pick of companies to work for; as the OP notes, she had a job offer within a week. If you are actually an engineer at Uber, I bet recruiters are constantly emailing you about job offers.

Obviously, if you don't think you can easily get another job, stay.

There's effort, entropy, and uncertainty with changing jobs. My only point was that saying, "Why don't you just get another job?" is just a little dishonest.

No shit. A story like this makes me realize that even with the "problems" I think I have at work, that get me all riled up, I have it made in the shade with lemonade compared to this woman's experience at Uber.

I started reading the article with the view of "If it's really that bad, just quit. Burn that bridge with thermite, and never look back." I finished the article wishing there were more Susan J. Fowlers in the world.

Same here.

And you know; 100% of the women engineers I know have similar stories. 100%. That's insane.

These stories need to come out so the guilty companies and their toxic environments are exposed for all to see.

I'd encourage everyone here to pick up a copy of her O'Reilly book -- it's very good. Hopefully she gets all the income and none of it goes to Uber...

Even I do not have anything productive to contribute to this discussion, but just deleted the Uber app from my phone. Never going to use them again even if that means a lot of inconvenience for me.

By all indications, Uber has a toxic work culture that costs them both top talent and organizational velocity.

I'm a college senior at a well-regarded engineering school. My CS classmates - especially women - simply do not apply to Uber, in large part because of its reputation for internal misogyny and general assholery. Four classmates interned there last summer, and as far as I know none are interested in returning. A friend of mine was actually warned off by her software engineer father. I've heard stories from friends who've worked there that corroborate Susan's tales of infighting teams and inexplicable reorganizations due to high-level backstabbing. The one woman I know who works there wants out. Susan is a high-profile and credible source; hopefully her post takes Uber's work culture issues from "open secret" to "problem that has public consequences for the company".

The CEO should crack down and take serious steps towards addressing this problem - not just for PR, but because his company is seriously suffering as a result of these issues. Unfortunately for Uber, from what I've heard, Travis is part of the problem as far as Game-of-Thrones internal politics and backstabbing goes. His "move fast and break things" persona sounds like a poor model for subordinates. Between that and the company's relative external success, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for anything internal to get better any time soon.

Until it does, I simply hope that my acquaintances at Uber find somewhere less shitty to work.

Hijacking this top comment to provide some personal experiences.

I started as an engineer in the spring of 2014 and this was definitely the case there.

Top engineers were being poached from Google/FB and these people were trying to carve out territory in a quickly growing engineering team.

The misogynistic culture, in my mind, comes from most of the early employees being former frat bros. Culture was extremely heavy on the drinking; see "Work-cations" where most of the team would go to an exotic location which was half-hackathon/half boozefest. There were happy hours every week with open bar because all new employees would be flown to SF (no matter where home office was) for orientation.

Crazy, most ex-employees (even the early ones) acknowledge that the culture is bad but they got their $$$ so they won't have to work again for a long time, if ever.

   > Top engineers were being poached from Google/FB and these people
   > were trying to carve out territory in a quickly growing engineering 
   > team.
It is always a bit sad when one of the top characteristic of an engineer from organization X is their political ability to carve out an empire.

I'm a bit surprised she doesn't have at least one law firm trying to get her to be the lead claimant in a class action lawsuit. Seems like she did everything right and has a pretty sold case. Of course she may have signed that option away when she left.

Also, in California at least, your employer has to give you your full personnel record if you request it. She might ask them to do that.

I'm a bit surprised so many people want to give her advice. She's already taken a really bold step and written cogently and in a balanced way about her situation, the toxic culture at Uber, and made it clear she's moved on to a better place. Why talk about what she should be doing and hasn't done as if there is only one way to resolve this? Why not give thanks to the writer for writing this and putting up with all the drama it will cause in the hope of a better world.

Why not talk about how wrong Uber was in every way and at every level - allowing a manager to attempt to proposition new direct reports for sex on their first day, not immediately firing them for this, trying to suppress this when taken to HR, rewarding the perpetrator, killing her career there for vague reasons, let alone all the other dysfunction she mentioned in passing? Even just one of those points means a really toxic culture. There are little bits of men's behaviour in every large organisation which resemble this, why not talk about that and ways to make this better? There are so many ways this story can inspire us to do better.

I think you have incorrectly attributed ChuckMcM's comment as advice. He was just musing about his surprise that a law firm hasn't already contacted her considering the strength of her case, and having a thought experiment about the outcome.

In this case, it would greatly benefit the public good to litigate. Unfortunately, the risk of lawsuits is the single greatest motivator for U.S. companies to combat sexism and harassment in the workplace. We would hope that companies would recognize the inherent value of encouraging the growth of a class of employees so they can be productive, but this isn't the case in most U.S. companies.

I think it's unlikely that Susan would choose to litigate. She is motivated to design systems, write books, and advance infrastructure engineering. Her personal gain from a lawsuit would be slim (what would the damages even be? She probably has no employment gap, considering her excellent reputation in engineering).

I'm not a lawyer but I imagine in this case the damages would be puntive. It's less about how she was harmed and more about the fact that the company has rampant sexual harassment and a history of not handling complaints properly. A good way to teach them (and others who are contemplating doing the same) a lesson is to make them pay an outrageous amount of money.

Not saying Susan should be the one to sue them, but someone certainly should. Along with the bad publicity one or more lawsuits would definitely get them to clean up their HR practices.

I think we're both in agreement about the greater public good of the litigation. I don't understand punitive damages so I can't comment.

I'm uncomfortable with assigning responsibility to an individual to undertake a crusade when there is little upside and a large downside.

I think this is a good point.

The discussion here really highlights how people combine what they are reading with what they are thinking into a combined message.

I was reading her account and the GP comment from the uber throwaway and making observational comments about people who spend time on political maneuver versus doing excellent work. I've known a number people over my career who got promoted often and achieved great "success" but did so by manipulating the organization and not by doing anything particular noteworthy.

In my experience, that sort of behavior can really only be stopped top->down. There isn't any way that I have found to help someone see that they are incorrectly evaluating employee contribution from a position below there grade level. And like the author found, if the bad behavior continues above your manager, then that is a level of brokenness you can't fix. And as you point out she got out and was moved on.

I also phrased it as an observation, but I am sure that on reading her account there may be lawyers looking for a big payday (Uber is vulnerable) who will approach her. It's what lawyers do. Generally more established companies have a tighter rein on their illegal management practices to make it harder on the lawyers :-)

Uber was wrong, on every level, and that was status quo. And the cost of naming that wrong and speaking of it is high. It is sad that they are not unique in that wrongness.

There is only one way to make this better, and that is to tie this sort of behavior to a loss of money. There are many things we might advocate which impact Uber financially; One is to sue them, One is to give witness to their wrongness so that others will not work there, One is to boycott them as a customer or driver.

Sadly, there is no way to "fix" them because this appears to be cultural. That is the worst part for me, knowing about the rottenness in a company, knowing it "could" be addressed by a strong leader providing incentives for good behavior and disincentives for bad behavior, and knowing that no fixing will happen. That said if their competitors have a stronger (and better) culture, then they will be able to attract top talent in the space and dominate the market. We'll see if that works in this case.

Thanks for this comment - I agree with your points here. It is worth us all thinking about how to fix the broken culture, rather than thinking about what the author can do, she's done her part in a very brave way by writing this honest article.

Listing what she can/should/coulda/woulda/shoulda is one way to avoid looking in the mirror and all that. It is one reason victim blaming is popular: If it is the victim's fault, then other people don't have to wonder what they might do differently or get off their lazy duff and walk the walk instead of just engaging in smack talk.

I appreciate you making the comment. I don't imagine it will go over well.

> It is one reason victim blaming is popular: If it is their fault, then other people don't have to wonder what they might do differently or get off their lazy duff and walk the walk instead of just engaging in smack talk.

I think the true reason is a bit deeper: victim blaming means that bad events can be compartmentalized to be the victim's problem. So a person engaging in it doesn't have to emotionally deal with the potential problems of the bad event, or even how it could affect them, as they can just say that they would have dealt with it better. A rendition of the just-world hypothesis, really.

That being said, I don't know if I'd call "she should sue" victim-blaming, even though the reason is probably about the same.

Good comment, but:

That being said, I don't know if I'd call "she should sue" victim-blaming, even though the reason is probably about the same.

This reminds me of some of the BS I have seen where people insist a woman should prosecute her rapist. One of the problems with this line of reasoning is that it makes it the victim's responsibility to try to right this wrong. What if she just wants to put the whole damn thing behind her and not let it eat any more of her life instead of dragging the pain out longer?

It still hangs something on her instead of other people stepping up to bat.

Hmm, perhaps I misunderstand the term?

I thought victim blaming referred to specifically blaming the victim for the event itself as / before it happened. Not for what the victim did or didn't do afterwards. Unsolicited advice, in poor taste, but not victim blaming by the definition I'm aware of.

I think most people here asking to sue want to see Uber pay, and they don't really have any equivalent leverage against Uber. There's more victim blaming in the "you should have known how HR works / you should have left" comments.

Sorry if it wasn't perfectly clear: I didn't say that it was victim blaming, just that it is problematic in a way that is not much different from victim blaming. So defending the suggestion as not victim blaming is kind of not great in my book.

It's always worth considering that "she should sue" is actually meant as "she has a clear right to sue, and I would applaud her receiving an appropriate amount of compensation should she do so, because that was completely unacceptable".

I tend to frame the sentiment as "That's lawsuit worthy and if she desires to bring one I wish her good luck and good hunting" for clarity, but I find that often people use "should" conversationally to mean "thing I would love to see happen" rather than "thing I believe the object of the sentence is required to do".

Yeah, I am aware of all that. I appreciate you making an effort to make a clearer distinction -- "that's lawsuit-worthy -- but I am less thrilled with having it explained to me that it is on the victim (or sympathetic women, like myself) to be emotionally sensitive to the intent of random internet strangers sloppily using "should" instead of being backed up on the idea that a predominantly male discussion group really ought to be making more of an effort to frame things carefully when they discuss what some woman has endured at the hands of other men.

> This reminds me of some of the BS I have seen where people insist a woman should prosecute her rapist. One of the problems with this line of reasoning is that it makes it the victim's responsibility to try to right this wrong.

Simply put, that's the system we have. It's designed with the assumption that having adversaries argue according to rules in front of a judge is a good way to figure out what really happened.

It's not necessarily the best way to solve the kind of things it's used for, but we don't have an alternative.

> What if she just wants to put the whole damn thing behind her and not let it eat any more of her life instead of dragging the pain out longer?

I can certainly sympathize with that decision.

> This reminds me of some of the BS I have seen where people insist a woman should prosecute her rapist.

I was under the impression that criminal cases were pressed by the state, not any given individual.

The only thing the state may ask is testimony from the victim. If the victim is unwilling or unable to give that, then the case may just fall apart due to lack of evidence.

That's correct. In a case with a surviving victim, the victim is almost certainly going to take the stand. The 6th amendment to the constitution contains the confrontation clause[1] which says, "…in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right…to be confronted with the witnesses against him." If someone strikes or stabs or shoots you, and that person stands trial, you will be on the witness stand and you will be cross-examined.

Public support for the confrontation clause isn't popular these days, but I am very glad the courts have continued to uphold it. To quote Crawford v. Washington[2], "Dispensing with confrontation because testimony is obviously reliable is akin to dispensing with jury trial because the defendant is obviously guilty."

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confrontation_Clause

2. http://federalevidence.com/pdf/2007/13-SCt/Crawford_v._Washi...

> If someone strikes or stabs or shoots you, and that person stands trial, you will be on the witness stand and you will be cross-examined.

Not necessarily. If someone stabs or shoots you in a public place, in full view of 50 other witnesses and 4K recording devices, then your testimony is unnecessary.

That said... in the US most crimes don't go to court so I can't really say what a hypothetical 'open/shut' case will look like in a court trial, because in reality the offender will plea-bargin immediately.

Which puts the pressure on the victim. Very few prosecutors are willing or able to bring a case to trial without the support / testimony of the victim (who is often the only witness).

> Why not talk about how wrong Uber was in every way and at every level - allowing a manager to attempt to proposition new direct reports for sex on their first day, not immediately firing them for this, trying to suppress this when taken to HR, rewarding the perpetrator, killing her career there for vague reasons, let alone all the other dysfunction she mentioned in passing?

Some of these things are actually violations of law in California, and the advice I would give Susan would be to pursue legal action.

I'm confused by your comment. How does it fit with the parent comment? Your comment doesn't seem to make sense as either agreeing with the parent comment (as it nothing about giving advice) nor does it seem to contradict the parent comment (which isn't giving advice or giving Uber some kind of pass). Could you clarify?

We should be talking about the actions of uber and her manager, not what she should or could do. I don't think the author really needs commentary on what comes next, and if she wants it I'm sure she'll know who to ask. We could all usefully reflect on how to stop this happening though.

I hope that helps; if it doesn't perhaps consider why she wrote the article (I doubt it was to solicit comments on what her actions could be).

Personally everyone knows what Uber (and her manager) ought to have done and ought not to have done, and if there were any confusion, the article covered it in depth. I don't know what would be gained by restating it. OTOH, it seems at worst harmless and at best beneficial to offer advice on how to maximize her case against Uber, or to help others who find themselves in similar circumstances (especially those who may not be surrounded by subject-matter experts).

> why not talk about that and ways to make this better?

A class action law suit may be the best way to make this better.

My partner was in a somewhat similar position. When she spoke to a lawyer, the lawyer asked her two questions:

1 - did she ever want to work in X industry again / was she comfortable with being blacklisted, legal or not;

2 - was she comfortable with this being what she did with the next two years of her life

It's a harder decision to make than you think.

Not to mention the unrelenting wave of assholery that would be generated on sites like, well, HN towards any woman that dared do what you suggest.

Most lawsuits don't reach the court room and end with a non-disparagement agreement. Perhaps it was worth asking another lawyer?

This is correct according to the various employment attorneys who have spoken at various 'managing within the law' training sessions I've attended over the years. Sometimes you can not only sue the company but the individuals who were involved. That should be a disincentive to managers but sadly it doesn't seem to sink in.

Great, less competition will make her cheaper.

In the world of grown-up business, as opposed to SV bro startups, that's just one new business opportunity arising to poach talent!

Thank you for the context. I have to admit that this thought did cross my mind. I wish Uber would be forced to pay dearly for their treatment of Ms. Fowler, but I don't want Ms. Fowler to be the one that has to sweat to make that happen.

> It is always a bit sad when one of the top characteristic of an engineer from organization X is their political ability to carve out an empire.

When Organization X consistently scoops up the top graduates from the top schools, they end up with a glut of very smart engineers, most of whom are probably overqualified for their day-to-day work. Since brains and talent aren't distinguishing qualities, political cunning becomes the key differentiator.

> I'm a bit surprised she doesn't have at least one law firm trying to get her to be the lead claimant in a class action lawsuit.

Who's to say she doesn't? She just posted the article.

> I'm a bit surprised she doesn't have at least one law firm trying to get her to be the lead claimant in a class action lawsuit.

How do you know she doesn't?

"Culture was extremely heavy on the drinking;"

For me this is a red flag.

    Booze + programming == pissed programming
This leads to bad code also bad team dynamics. Ultimately this will reflect on the product and bottom line. For individuals this reads like a culture where the barrel is creating ^bad apples^. Not a good look on a resume.

We have a "whiskey club", and regularly go to the pub where I work.

We don't do it at lunchtime. We don't do it during the working day. 5:30pm on a Friday? Let's have a glass of whiskey together.

Somebody joining/leaving, or we haven't been out together for a while? Let's go to the pub after work one evening.

There is a #drinks channel in Slack where people who fancy a drink after work co-ordinate, and several of will grab each other once a week for a couple of pints.

That does not mean we are drunk when coding. As for team dynamics, it means we know each other better and bond more frequently. Not a problem, I think.

The downside is that for people who don't want to engage in this or can't (have to look after family, etc.), it can feel exclusionary, so we spend some time making sure we do things with those people too.

> As for team dynamics, it means we know each other better and bond more frequently. Not a problem, I think.

Except for the non-drinkers in your team. I suspect that they either

a) feel left out, because a non-drinker at a pub has a boring time, and has to keep justifying their empty glass

b) probably miss out on important decisions if a majority of the important people in a team are present, which is bad dynamics

c) maybe your team doesn't have any non-drinkers. What does that tell you in terms of diversity / inclusiveness?

I'm not pointing fingers at you specifically because you mention explicitly making plans around people who don't/won't drink, but i think there should be more awareness around this, especially since it can seep into the culture quite insidiously, and invisibly.

Some workplaces have sporting clubs that people participate in to grow closer to their coworkers. Yet if you don't like tenis, baseball, basketball, golf, or hiking then you are out of luck.

Every social activity will exclude people who don't like the activity by default. There's no real working around this.

Even if you just have a 'talking' club, you exclude people who aren't natural extroverts or find large group conversations to be maddening.

In essence, there's no way to be perfectly fair... so at best you can have different choices to try to be as inclusive as possible with limited time.

Absolutely true, also goes for video games, board games, or even going to movies or baseball games.

With rare exceptions, I'm a non-drinker. Nowhere in Europe have I ever had an issue ordering a coke instead of an alcoholic drink, even when hanging out with people getting completely shitfaced.

Is this seriously a thing in the US? Feeling like you have to drink if you're surrounded by people drinking? I keep hearing stories like that. Nobody is going to judge you for not consuming alcohol - if anyone does, they're certainly not people I'd want to hang out with regardless of whether drinks are involved.

It doesn't hurt not to give a fuck, once in a while.

It's not a problem for anyone other than the overly self-conscious, who are looking for reasons to explain their anxiety. Literally no one cares.

I believe I was rejected after a job interview because of not drinking.

Another boss I had any a different job told me he fired someone for not partying with everyone else. If you went to these parties and didn't drink, the boss would harass you all night.

I agree with you that many people are just self conscious, but it's not exclusively that way.

Both of your cases sound like shitty places to work.

I was once rejected from a job interview at a DC startup because I didn't order a beer when they took me to lunch.

This seems a reason so stupid to reject somebody that either a) they didn't like you but didn't want to tell you the real reason, but didn't care enough to think about a plausibly sounding fake one; or b) you dodged a major bullet as these people had seriously messed up priorities. I'd bet on a) but can't exclude b) completely of course.

Even if that is what they said, do you honestly believe that was the real reason?

Beyond the slightest doubt.

Well, it's safe to say you dodged a bullet then :)

Interesting. What do you mean by self-conscious ?

https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2014/01/26/how-to-be-... for examples.

The tl;dr is that people who are insecure will attempt to rationalize their feelings, and this frequently includes feelings of judgement and persecution from others where none exists.

It's not that people will judge you IME, but that it's really fucking boring.

What's boring about it?

Unless being drunk is your idea of fun (in which case it seems doubtful you'd be a non-drinker), I cannot understand how drinking liquid A at a party is any more boring than liquid B.

As a person who does not necessarily enjoy drinking (nor does so very regularly), I would say that being sober around people who are drunk is objectively less enjoyable than being drunk around drunk people.

In fact a graph of my enjoyment as a non-drinker (in my experience) would probably be inverse to a graph of the enjoyment of the people getting progressively more shit-faced.

Drink soda water w/ bitters. Looks like a drink, tastes good, and satisfies anyone actually drinking.

I drink regularly; but every now and then I'll go a week or month without drinking. I'm currently in the middle of one of these periods; but I've still gone out to happy hour or events that involved drinking every day since it's started. I manage to have just as much fun sober drinking soda + bitters.

Slightly OT, but do you have a recommendation for bitters other than Angostura? I like it, but I'd like to diversify my home cabinet.

Peychaud is probably the second biggest brand. Since I drink this at bars, it really depends on what they have on hand. Most good bars will have a selection of 5-10+ different bitters. I like grapefruit bitters; I've also had really good spicy chili bitters. Many like orange bitters. Just ask the bartender for recs, they usually love chatting about this stuff.

The best part of this drink is that they rarely charge me anything for it. I'll usually tip a couple bucks per drink, and everybody ends up happy!

I'll give Peychaud a look. Thanks for the rec.

Fee Brothers make some decent bitters, I have an Aztec Chocolate one that's really good with soda or in drinks.

I'll check them out. Thanks.

> satisfies anyone actually drinking.

If your culture is one where that's necessary then the entire management chain should be fired.

Whatever you choose to do, some subset of the team will end up being left out. Some of my team occasionally go out for a drink+meal. Usually when some remote workers are in town for the day, and we go out after work. Yes, it excludes people with families/other commitments. But lots of other activities would exclude exactly the same people; you can't force the whole team to be sociable after work hours.

We do these things:

1) We don't make any decisions when team members are missing; they have to be done during work hours when everyone is able to participate 2) There's no obligation to drink (why would there be?); several of the team don't drink, and there is no pressure to do so, they get soft drinks/tea/coffee/whatever they like

As someone who is very shy and introverted, it's one of the few times I actually go out socially, and it's a time to unwind and have a chat with your coworkers and associated friends/partners/family. I don't think doing this has any negative impact upon the rest of the team, so long as you don't do any serious discussion and decision making which excludes others.

I'd also like to point out that this kinda does leave out the women. I'm at an age where most of my friends are getting married or having babies.

If you're pregnant, this basically means that you can't be a part of the team's social gatherings for at least 9 months straight.

It's ok to get a coke or water at a bar.

I can no longer drink, due to medical issues. I'd still go out with my team for the bonding, and probably just leave early every time. I really like how the Chef Community Summit has drinking and dry events, like Game Night. Making inclusivity a goal is fun for everyone!

I once received a bottle of wine as a Christmas bonus from the founders of the small startup I worked at. I was the only person on the the who didn't drink and was pretty offended. Especially since it was well known that I didn't drink since this company celebrated "beer thirty" every Friday.

>was pretty offended

You were offended by a gift? Just say thanks and give it away or throw it away.

The vast majority of company gifts are useless to many people. Most people can cloth themselves, buy drinks for themselves, buy bags for themselves, etc and have no need for whatever crap the company is getting them as a sign of appreciation.

Unless they demanded you chug the wine in front of them, you really should not have offended yourself this way.

> You were offended by a gift?

If I give an observant Jew a kilo of bacon as a gift, why shouldn't they be offended by my being an arsehole?

Same thing.

Jew here. I wouldn't be offended. I'd thank the person, then find someone who could use it.

And if the person knew I kept kosher but still offered the bacon, I would laugh it off and then donate it.

Being easily-offendable is not a virtue. Being gracious is.

If the gift was specifically chosen for the individual, yeah, I can see being offended. In my experience, once companies reach a certain size, gifts are purchased and given in a one-size-fits-all manner. Inconsiderate, perhaps, but likely not intended to offend.

It was a team of 7. Including the two founders.

If you work for a company that has "reached a certain size", you should be aware that you'll have groups of people that make certain one-size-fits-all gifts inappropriate. Like pork products or alcohol in any country with a non-trivial number of Jews and Muslims.

Well known you never drank or well known you didn't drink at work?

Well-known that I didn't drink at all.

There is very little good that can happen when a company serves or provides mind-altering drugs to its employees. That includes alcohol.

And also coffee of course. And sugary drinks. And chocolate[1] (won't spoil the link but the first phrase mentions "opioids" - like heroin, you know). I'd suggest just give out distilled water. Preferably without any container, so to not contribute to the pollution.

[1] http://www.ehow.com/how-does_5132052_chocolate-affect-person...

A lot of good can happen, from a pleasant meal with wine to a fantastic night that the participants will never forget.

"That does not mean we are drunk when coding. As for team dynamics, it means we know each other better and bond more frequently. Not a problem, I think. The downside is that for people who don't want to engage in this or can't (have to look after family, etc.), it can feel exclusionary, so we spend some time making sure we do things with those people too."

Sounds like a more balanced view of what I've seen at some companies. Implies grown-ups are in charge.

>"As for team dynamics, it means we know each other better and bond more frequently"

Is drinking actually bonding though?

Very much so! Not talking shit-faced, but just normal drinking. It's one of the fastest ways to get to know a person, a lot of people naturally let their guard down, and it provides a casual atmosphere to get to know each other.

It also provides a shared experience that is an easy conversation starter when meeting sober later on "hey, thanks for last night! Where did you end up going after.." etc.

Obviously YMMW, in EU/Denmark it's a very common way to "crash course" people on each other when you suddenly find yourself in a new environment with nobody you know (university, new work). Then again, I'd say EU drinking is a lot more mature than the US one. We usually get introduced to it a lot earlier in life, and have a gentler intro curve rather than going from zero-100 real quick, when entering college or the likes.

Definitely. Alcohol is a social grease. Facilitates having fun, kills off stress temporarily. All conductive to bonding, even if not strictly necessary.

I guess we have different definitions of bonding then, because that just sounds like regular drinking to me. In my opinion a bond is forged through some meaningful connection or meaningful shared experience. I just don't find knocking pints back to be meaningful experience. Its a bond that lasts until the pub closes. I say this as someone who drinks as well.

Alcohol does not create a meaningful bonding experience by itself (unless you're out tasting some very rare and special beverage). It matters what you're doing while drinking. Personally, I find hours-long conversations over beers to be quite good at building rapport with people.

This is my point, if the drinking doesn't matter so much as the "what you're doing" why does booze need to be involved at all?

"hours-long conversations over beers" sounds like getting wasted to me or at at very least tipsy.

> This is my point, if the drinking doesn't matter so much as the "what you're doing" why does booze need to be involved at all?

It doesn't. But it can be, because - besides the "social grease" benefits it confers, which I mentioned before - why not?

We have a pro-drinking culture at my company due to the nature of the business and I haven't found that it's causing any problems. It's generally done outside of work or for specific events, and I've never felt unsafe on any gathering where a lot of drinking was going on.

This is a red herring, if anything.

I think there's a difference between a culture where people drink a lot vs a culture where people get black out drunk and irresponsible with it, though, and maybe Uber is more like the latter.

>I've never felt unsafe on any gathering where a lot of drinking was going on.

Are you a woman?

I am a good coder with a bad drinking habit who has worked at companies that were ok with drinking on site. While they handled it well and while I love an excuse to get together over beers and discuss coding, it's definitely a smell. Black out drunk has nothing to do with it. Hell, it would be preferable if people just passed out. The problem is all the folks who don't pass out but all of a sudden think this is a good time to declare their love for a coworker's body.

> Are you a woman?


> The problem is all the folks who don't pass out but all of a sudden think this is a good time to declare their love for a coworker's body.

The problem is if they say something like that, the target is clearly uncomfortable, and then nobody else cares. Banning alcohol isn't going to fix something like that.

"We have a pro-drinking culture at my company due to the nature of the business and I haven't found that it's causing any problems."


If drinking is done outside work/events this isn't what is being described in the article. What about the personal who a) don't drink or b) harassed by those who do? Drinking at work tells me the place isn't interested in performance or their customers.

> Anecdotal.

Sure, but I'm not entirely sure what else you expect. Isn't your statement also anecdotal?

> If drinking is done outside work/events this isn't what is being described in the article.

Sorry, what article? It's not mentioned in the main OP, and the person a few parents up is talking about what sounds very much like events or after work happy hours. I can absolutely see how that can turn bad, I'm just saying it doesn't have to.

Are you really supporting drinking at work? Tell me about the great experiences through the eyes of other people.

"talking about what sounds very much like events or after work happy hours"

The number of engineers bleeding from uber suggests, drinking isn't ^the problem^ but one part of a bigger culture problem. Do you work at Uber?

> Are you really supporting drinking at work?

Yup. 100%. Because I'm an adult and I and my coworkers know how to drink responsibly and not make a fool of ourselves and keep things relatively professional.

It's not like I'm taking shots of vodka at the top of every hour - it's maybe having a beer or two at the end of Thursday and Friday, or having a boozy lunch every now and then to celebrate a success or birthday or someone leaving.

I think projektir is talking about how a team-drinks-together-outside-of-work culture can still be healthy.

Their "maybe Uber is more like the latter" description of an unhealthy culture I think makes it obvious they don't work at Uber.

"I think projector is talking about how a team-drinks-together-outside-of-work culture can still be healthy."

@mst fair enough point.

>Are you really supporting drinking at work?

We have beer on tap at work. If I'm in the office late, having an occasional beer at 6pm or so seems perfectly reasonable.

Getting hammered is obviously way out of line but one beer is hardly the same thing.

>We have a pro-drinking culture at my company due to the nature of the business

Do tell what business this is, because unless the industry is alcohol production, I'm having a hard time believing this is an instrinc quality of an industry and not just a "boys will be boys" excuse.

Alcohol use isn't an intrinsic quality of the legal industry but it might as well be.


The following excerpt is the first sentence of the conclusion.

"Attorneys experience problematic drinking that is hazardous, harmful, or otherwise consistent with alcohol use disorders at a higher rate than other professional populations."

This morbid fact is actually taught in law school. Something like 10% of attorneys abuse substances, multiple times over the national average. To demonstrate the scope of the problem: a phone number for an assistance hotline is placed in bold on all Texas state bar cards.

> We have a pro-drinking culture at my company due to the nature of the business

what? what possible nature of business are you in that makes drinking more (or less) acceptable.

There is no such thing. at work, you work. if you want to get drunk, you aren't working.

I think you are looking at it too narrowly. Drinking has an important social function in many cultures, western culture among them but by no means alone. Having good social interaction between coworkers is important. Of course, one has to be cognizant of the fact that not everybody drinks and not to exclude people that are not - by making sure drinking is not the only way people can interact socially. But having a round of beers once in a while with coworkers, among other things, is not that bad.

Of course, all that is about social drinking, not getting completely shitfaced to the point one loses control. That is never good.

> There is no such thing.

Works at a bar or brewery? Wine related startup? Sales?

Agreed. I know some folks who worked in the alcohol industry and drinking on the job was expected.

none of those are any more pro drinking on the job culture than any other job.

you still have work to do, and you probably still have colleagues whose time is valuable that aren't as big on drinking as you think they are.

drinking and having fun is great. at my company, if i wanted us all to drink, everyone got the afternoon off and we went out.

He did said that the drinking was done outside of work hours.

he said the "nature of the business" made it more pro drinking. but thats not accurate. people's decisions might make for a more pro-drinking atmosphere, but a business can't.

Sales strikes me as as just perpetuating old habits. If a salesman has to get me drunk to make a sale, he's pitching a shitty product and he knows it.

The fermentation industries on the other hand are more legit.

Ever worked in hospitality? I can assure you that there are workplaces out there where drinking on the job is expected.

Just because there's drinking at work, doesn't mean they drink while programming.

I've worked at plenty of places with a social drinking culture and never could we be bothered to actually code and drink at the same time. Maybe we might have a boozy friday lunch every now and then, but usually retros and 'meetings' like that followed

Also, I think the statement "extremely heavy on the drinking" is so subjective and up to personal interpretation.

I have to be honest, I know a lot of people who claim that they can write really good code if they've been drinking.

I just absolutely do not understand how that is even possible. If I have ONE beer, it throws off my ability to write good code, or hold all of the concepts in my head.

One of the weekly coworking meetups I go to always ends at a brewery (there is a brewery next door to the hackerspace where it is held), and while it is certainly a lot of fun being there brainstorming things, I don't understand how anybody gets actual code written after drinking.

I've found I'm markedly better at two specific types of programming activities while mildly drunk (the "mildly" part being quite crucial, for me this means two beers or a couple of slowly sipped glasses of whiskey). One is getting a large amount of boring mindless boilerplate out of the way quickly because the alcohol helps me not get too distracted from sheer boredom. The other is re-architecting high level design after getting stuck on a flawed approach - it seems easier to devise and consider more "out there" ideas without getting too bogged down in implementation details prematurely.

Obviously, that's just my personal experience and while I'm quite confident in my sample size, I wouldn't generalize it to anyone else. YMMV.

There are certain types of code which I can unequivocally write better after a few drinks. It's honestly mostly low-complexity drudge work which needs to get done but when sober I can't power through it as fast due to (a) boredom and (b) overanalysis of simple tasks.

This certainly isn't all the code I write (far from it) and it's not for everyone, but it's definitely true for me. That's why I don't think saying alcohol and code can never mix is right, but I agree that it shouldn't be a daily occurrence or the central aspect of company culture. I don't think an optional, after-work happy hour on occasion is such a bad thing though.

There is something called the Ballmer Peak, which has even been demonstrated in one study. Up to a point, the theory goes, creative work benefits from mild intoxication. Beyond that point, productivity goes out the window. For me, I believe that point is around two drinks. For you, it could be teaspoons. Either way, I wouldn't generally drink before the end of the work day.

Personally, I find coding is hardest when you're blocked or stumped. Sometimes it helps to turn off the inner critic and experiment with code in a way that might feel unproductive during normal work hours. How I approach a problem outside of work is my business as long as the solution is solid.

This should go without saying, but everyone's physiology is different. While most people get drowsy from pseudoeffedrine, it makes me hyper. That's why even if one treatment works for most people, it might not work for you.

I'll add that alcohol starts as an upper. It gives you a buzz that makes you feel good and want to do stuff. That's obviously beneficial if you can focus it on a work-related task. Several people here corroborated that hypotheses by saying they do. I've done it, too, in many situations.

> There is something called the Ballmer Peak

Wait, we're citing XKCD comics now as if they are peer-reviewed scientific journals?

There's actually one peer-reviewed study in a psychology journal. Granted, it's only one data point and might not be applicable directly to coding. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/can-alcohol-make-men-smarter-stu...

> I know a lot of people who claim that they can write really good code if they've been drinking.

i know a lot of people who say they drive better if they've been drinking too. Doesn't mean it's accurate.

Alcohol definitely blunts fast reflexes. If it also hinders coding, it's not for the same reason. If I had to guess, a little could fix anxiety and perfectionism, while a lot will leave you too incoherent to make something work at all.

> If I had to guess, a little could fix anxiety and perfectionism

This is exactly what happens to me, so I sometimes will code after a bottle of beer or a glass of whiskey. But it has to be little - more alcohol and I start losing focus.

For me, it can be a matter of actually doing it. I often suffer from analysis paralysis, so being a little tipsy means that I will actually write the thing. It'll be terrible, but it'll get done, and then sober me can go back and clean it up.

Or I'll go to far, write it, and it'll be unusable.

I used to do this sometimes in university. Haven't done it since entering the workforce, but they say sleep deprivation results in similar performance to being drunk. Not proud of it but I've found myself cornered into nightmare sleep deprived coding marathons by analysis paralysis / procrastination a number of times over the last few years. Alcohol might be preferable.

Alcohol increases confidence in one's abilities.

Everyone has some skill they insist they are "better at" when drunk.

Back in university days I often wrote assignments while tipsy and then edited them when sober. Cider was just perfect for silencing the inner critic to get some thoughts to paper.

Well, there you have me. My secret better-when-drunk talent is writing poetry and first messages on OkCupid.

These are only weakly connected.

"Hold my beer!"

"What?! Are you crazy?!"

"Don't worry, I got this."

Goes on to write vanilla JS.

From what I understand, there's a substantial body of research indicating that a slight suppression of the prefrontal cortex can reduce the sorts of inhibitive filters that constrain creative thought. Too much, obviously, and you impair your cognitive ability. Too little, and self-doubt and over-analysis rules.

Anecdotally, I've noticed that I'm significantly more fluent in my third language when I've had a drink or two. I get many, many more compliments. When I'm totally sober, I tend to trip up more and overthink the grammar.

There are lots of ways to reduce a hyperactive prefrontal cortex, including training (practicing art, meditating, etc.), but alcohol is by far the cheapest, quickest, and easiest.

My best results at pool always come between pint two and pint four.

I do not in any way shape or form endorse doing the same thing with writing production code.

Without a doubt, I am better at dancing (ok, less awful), if I have a drink or two ;)

I sometimes code after drinking. Not often, because I'm obviously sharper when completely sober. But when I'm very stressed, my cognitive potential is significantly reduced. Taking the edge off with a single beer results in a great increase of productivity then.

Also, if you think people can't get actual, working code written when shitfaced, then I guess you haven't met the demoscene crowd ;).

Clearly you haven't heard of the Balmer Peak

So that's Uber's problem. They hired Google/FB engineers when they should've been hiring MS experts for Ballmer Peak calibration. /s

They likely dont tackle work of significant complexity

This may be the case. I generally say I can't code worth a damn if I've had a beer or two, because my ability to really focus goes way down. But I've also had the experience of getting a bit buzzed and absolutely plowing through a whole bunch of easy-to-write code and enjoying it quite a bit, whereas it was otherwise kind of dull work.

>I just absolutely do not understand how that is even possible. If I have ONE beer, it throws off my ability to write good code, or hold all of the concepts in my head.

There are times when a problem is intractable and I get frustrated through thinking too much about an issue. Alcohol, like caffeine, has its place. I want to stress that I'm not talking about getting hammered at the office, or even mildly drunk, I'm talking about the fact that for some people, a single beer after many hours of work can be helpful in calming them down enough to focus on the whole problem again.

Alcohol can certainly have performance-enhancing effects: comically, the first Olympic disqualification for doping wasn't for steroid use or anything similar - it was for a man drinking "two beers" before his shooting match to calm himself down enough to operate at peak levels.

I can do exploratory coding when drinking, but I won't waste my time or an employers trying to write production code while drinking. As you note, it just doesn't work.

i code better after a few drinks - i end up focusing more on the forest rather than the trees.

Drinking at work, per se, is not inherently a bad thing. It really depends on culture. It depends on whether it's responsible drinking, social drinking, or it's irresponsible, Bing drinking. There are cultures where people have a beer or two or wine glass during lunch and these people are not typically misbehaved louts. But there is a responsible culture around the drinking.

I don't think having a drinking culture means drinking while programming. Quite the opposite actually.

"I don't think having a drinking culture means drinking while programming."

What is the union of work, drinking culture and SRE (the job the article refers)?

Why is this getting down voted? Am I missing something in bootload's post? Seems pretty reasonable to me. Don't get me wrong, I like to drink, but drinking and programming don't mix well for me at least. I need my brain cells working, not partying, when I'm trying to write code. Maybe that's my age showing.

Probably because it's conflating drinking and misogyny.

Drinking and programming surely don't mix well. However, a culture that involves, or even promotes, drinking and partying doesn't have to be misogynistic. I've worked in companies that held parties several times per week, with plenty of booze, and they were nothing like what was depicted in TFA.

"it's conflating drinking and misogyny."

Good point @metafunctor, didn't even think of that.

Because it's telling people something that might be true and makes them uncomfortable.

"Why is this getting down voted? Am I missing something in boatload's post?"

@luckeydude, it's a sort of reaction test for brogrammers who work in toxic environments. I can't think of any job (not after hours) where alcohol improves your performance and output.

... ahem, the Balmer Peak disagrees:


duty calls hey?


Ha! Guilty!

"Workcation" is an incredible idea, as is letting employees work remotely for x weeks/ months per year from wherever they want. Even though it's not vacation-vacation it's still a revitalizing, memory forming experience, and if you want a happy motivated work force, I think it's a great idea.

That and a sound proof studio with piano on premise would be enough to make me quit my job.

That said Uber's been on my douchebag radar at least since their execs bragged about threatening journalists. Hopefully your acquaintances already sold their shares on secondary markets because losing ~3 billion a year would worry me if I was expecting to get rich from them.

The booze thing gets exaggerated at many places. It is usually the marketing/HR/business dev/sales teams that indulge in that culture. The engineering team is usually much more constrained in their alcohol consumption, although the media groups them with the frat boys from sales.

I don''t agree with this at all. This certainly hasn't been my experience. Enthusiastic appreciation of craft beer and Scotch are very much a part of tech startup culture.

Try working for a Civil engineering company :-) I no longer drink snakebite and black at lunch :-)

i don't know many BD/sales people who contribute to hackathons...

seems like the person above you was speaking specifically about engineers.

I went to visit the instagram office on the fb main campus and saw a huge liquor exhibition.

There are tons of bars at FB. My experience was that people would only go on the fortnightly drinking event, and then it was mostly grabbing an hors dourve and then retiring back to their desk after a single bottle of that. It's pantomime of a drinking culture.

Longtime friend was there in 2011 iirc when they were still "Ubercab" and was cut bc he was "not a culture fit". Aka quiet Russian hacker types not wanted in the frat brotherhood.

>"Crazy, most ex-employees (even the early ones) acknowledge that the culture is bad but they got their $$$ so they won't have to work again for a long time, if ever."

Can you explain why they don't have to work again? How did they become wealthy? Those options aren't worth anything if the company doesn't IPO.

Can you elaborate more on the misogyny that was part of the culture?

So far you've only identified that they like drinking, traveling and were part of the Greek social system in university.

What I'm looking for are instances of demeaning women, discounting their achievements, systemic disapproval for the words of women, favours being handed out on the basis of gender, solicitation of sexual favours in non-equal power relationships, or if no examples can be provided then at least people stating that they are 'in favour' of such, or are lax in enforcing rules against such.

I don't mean this as an attack of any sort (the article gives examples after all). I simply want to know more.

Did you not read the article? Literally has an example of everything you are referring to.

The person I'm responding to actually worked at Uber, so they can potentially give more information than what the article contains.

What do you have against talking to other witnesses 'of the crime' so to speak?

My bad, I have nothing against talking to other witnesses of the crime and wasn't paying attention and didn't know the person you were talking to was an Uber employee and had additional context to provide.

I just thought you were being a jerk and didn't read the article. Oops.

Saying that they "poached" engineers make it look like they are property of a company and can't move looking for better opportunities.

I don't like that word either, but it seems to be the standard term.

"Hired" would work just as well here.

Uber recruiters once emails about 100 engineers in my company the same email...except they managed to swap around the first/last names on all of them.

Most recruiters are comically bad at targeting -- apparently there isn't enough downside to just carpet-bombing as many e-mail addresses as they can find -- but this does not mean that recruiting is inherently wrong.

The funny bit was the swapped names, it's like they had a spreadsheet but shifted a column down. Didn't double check the names against emails so I assume it was automated.

Just curious, what happens to employees who don't drink?

They dehidrate and crumble.

Did any of you folks talk about the enormously unethical ways you treat drivers? Those folks who are mostly poorer than you who do the actual work that provides value?

I find it laughable to hear Uber engineers cry about how unfairly Kalanick treats them.

Self-awareness 0.

this is almost on the same level of stupidity as "All lives matter".

The real problem in Uber's engineering orgs is that Uber hired too many people for too few real projects. From what I learned from my friends in Uber, many teams had largely overlapping responsibilities, and therefore created bogus projects to justify their existence. Their standard MO is picking a missing feature in a service, and then creating a new system that implemented that feature.

It might be okay if all the talents that Uber hired could work together to build truly great software, but hell no, their management created this weird cut-throat culture by enforcing stack ranking with forced curve down to each team of first-line managers. It's hard to imagine that a team with fewer than 10 people had to name an engineer who "didn't meet expectation". Yet that was exactly what happened in Uber. They also doted out disproportional amount of bonus to a few top performers. Naturally, people's expectation was distorted, and chaos ensued.

This is a really interesting observation and something I think doesn't factor into most people's calculus of company culture and execution.

I worked an early employee at a YC startup that was developing a hardware device and I think really ran into similar issues.

There were significant delays with shipping the device which meant that all the teams which had been built up to support its launch had _nothing_ to do for months. People in a "Customer Success" department with no customers. Developer evangelists with nothing to evangelize. Support departments twiddling their thumbs and the worst was the sales and marketing groups which devolved into a Lord of the Flies type environment where they tried latching onto any and every project they could just to justify their existence.

Timing really is everything.

I have literally never seen stack ranking mentioned in any context but horror stories and toxic company culture. What on earth possesses people to keep using it?

Most companies operate on the myth that the people responsible for doing work are interchangeable cogs that can be eliminated and replaced by a new doer with little to no impact to how the company functions.

So if you have enough traumatic brain damage to buy that line, stack ranking makes a ton of sense.

I had this exact same conversation with a manager who seemed suprised when I told him people are not interchangeable cogs. He said that some people may be quicker at a particular technology / domain / whatever, or quicker to ramp up, or do slightly better work, but smart engineers can and do learn anything needed and do work that's good enough after a ramp-up that's short enough. Beyond that, he says, there are minor differences he doesn't worry about as a manager.

I didn't know how to respond to that.

This is largely a natural difference in perspective.

The typical interaction between manager & engineer is that a manager tells an employee what to do, and the employee does it. From the manager's perspective, any employee that's reasonably competent will do: success is binary, either you did the assigned task satisfactorily or you didn't.

From the engineer's perspective, if you're good you considered a lot of alternative ways of solving the problem and finally settled on the best. It seems ridiculous that all employees could be interchangeable, because it's a pretty good bet that some engineers did not consider some of the alternative solutions you did. But remember that the whole reason the manager hired you was so that he didn't need to think about the details. All of those alternative solutions are outside of his conscious awareness; he's condensed his mental model of the problem to a binary "is this good enough to ship?", which frees up mental space for him to think about other stuff. Among those engineers that you think of as "not good enough", there are some who may not have thought of the brilliant solution that you came up with but still have code that is "good enough to ship" in the manager's estimation, and those are the irritating folks on your team who IYNSHO always produce shitty code but stay on the team because they have your manager's political favor. And then there are the folks who both you and your manager agree are too shitty to get the job done, and they're fired.

Who's right? Well, both of you, and neither of you. It's fairly likely that you're overestimating the quality requirements for the job, which is why a number of your shitty coworkers still have jobs. It's also fairly likely that your manager does not have complete visibility into all the long-term consequences of all the code being produced, which is why whole teams occasionally just catastrophically fail.

But it's worth remembering that every time you enter a transaction, you're having your work reduced to a pass/fail grade. It's the fundamental bargain you make when you take a job, and it also is the fundamental bargain you make when you sell a product (entrepreneurs are not exempt from this, and it's a major cause of startup failure among technical founders...including, quite possibly, mine). The advantage of producing better work is that it qualifies you for more different opportunities - which may or may not be relevant, depending on whether you take advantage of those opportunities.

> But it's worth remembering that every time you enter a transaction, you're having your work reduced to a pass/fail grade.

This is true as an employee and as a contractor and as a business. The nice thing about transacting as one of the latter two is there is no pretention of the transaction being anything other than a binary one.

> ... it's a major cause of startup failure among technical founders...including, quite possibly, mine

Now that you've brought it up, is a postmortem of your startup written up somewhere?

There's a postmortem of my first startup's failure (pre-Google) up here:


I'm still working on the 2nd (or 5th, or 11th, or ~50th, depending on how you count)...not exactly ready to declare it a failure, just, well, a whole lot of pivots.

It's sort of true but a very one-dimensional view on an individuals contributions which is a bit worrying coming from a people manager. I think its funny people go around lionizing individual technical skill and at the same time insist that people are interchangeable.

In my experience most programming jobs don't really require deep domain expertise or share it by osmosis. Ideally a smart, dedicated person that gets a 40 hour a week crash course from experts in the field should get up to speed reasonably quickly.

In the absence of experts there exists a whole slew of technology that democratizes hard fields like game creation and machine learning. You can commit all sorts of sins and still end up with a well functioning product. Partly resting on technology developed as an enabler and partly resting on the sheer amount of available compute.

IMO people are far more easily replaced in terms of making an individual code contribution than they are as members of a team and it's the latter that is significantly more important. Good teams are multipliers for their members. Replacing a team member in a well functioning team is a super risky prospect. Yet we live in a world of frequent re-orgs, teams smooshed together haphazardly and overvaluing individual technical skill.

I don't see that changing anytime soon as it all sort of works and there is an endemic lack of interest.

Outside of truly unique skills, it's basically true - engineers are interchangeable with sufficient time to ramp up.

I learned this lesson pretty early in my career when most senior engineer on the team left. I and everyone else freaked out because he was the only one on the team who fully understood how everything works. But you know who was not freaked out? My manager. And he was right, we did not even miss deadlines. In two month everything was back to normal with other people filling his shoes.

Obviously you can't replace Principal engineer with fresh grad and expect success but most of the work done is not that unique or hard.

>Outside of truly unique skills, it's basically true - engineers are interchangeable with sufficient time to ramp up.

That qualification at the end makes it false.

If I have to give someone 1 year to learn all of the minute details of the behavior of TCP across the various operating systems clients use, the behavior of packet re-ordering in LAG algorithms, convergence times of BGP, etc, then they are most definitely not interchangeable with someone who does know these things.

Any manager who thinks this way is incompetent and will impose massive opportunity costs on the company by not fighting for raises for existing good employees under the guise that they can be easily replaced.

Everything's a matter of degree. So maybe it takes longer or shorter depending on how big the shoes are. But that bundle of knowledge you cited seems learnable in a year.

> I learned this lesson pretty early in my career when most senior engineer on the team left. I and everyone else freaked out because he was the only one on the team who fully understood how everything works. But you know who was not freaked out? My manager. And he was right, we did not even miss deadlines. In two month everything was back to normal with other people filling his shoes.

Have you ever looked around the room and asked yourself "gee, why do we have so many coworkers on this project?" Or said "isn't it nuts that there are some weeks when I can measure my productive output in a handful of hours?"

The current vogue in management is cramming teams into an open floor office and micromanaging scrum points; these measures are introduced because they demoralize and _average_ output, thus introducing slack into the system. That's not a bug -- that's a feature! When someone important leaves the workers can be motivated or "motivated" to increase their output until the proper amount of slack is reintroduced from a hire.

" I don't doubt that has been true on all the teams you've managed. My experience differs significantly, and there's a lot of data which indicates my experiences may have been more representative. Caveat Emptor, of course

Can you share that data?

"My experience differs significantly" might sound like "I can't pick up new technologies and work on them". What did you have in mind?

It might also mean "I can make things work in a way that none of the other people on my team can do, and if I leave, they're gonna be boned."

Management is interesting because you can be a terrible manager yet still have a successful career at it.

A lot of competent management practices seem counter-intuitive if you've never been exposed to them. Most managers I know have have never even read a book on the subject. Management is often the blind leading the blind. Most likely this kind of environment will scare away any good managers, so the cycle continues.

So, unfortunately, it shouldn't be surprising that these counter-productive practices continue.

That said, reports like this never cease to amaze me.

For a long time it was, "successful company x uses stack ranking, and we want to be successful, so we use stack ranking."

Microsoft were often cited. You'll note that their renaissance coincides with their elimination of stack ranking.

Because you have to do it on some level? How do you choose who to let go when for whatever reason you have to cut 10% of your staff?

There's a substantial difference between "using stack ranking" and "using employee evaluations".

It means you can hire dumber managers.

I realized Uber was in pretty bad shape 2 years ago when the company i was at was trying to hire one of their VPs of Engineering. Not only did they have many VPs of Engineering, they had multiple VPs of Engineering in his specific discipline. It seemed like people were literally only there to get a title and a piece of the kingdom.

Which is funny because my experience at Uber was EXACTLY the same. 3 years ago one of the heads of their department emailed me and asked me to come in and give a talk to their managers as the team wasn't doing so well. After I did this, I asked the VP if they were hiring at my level (I was a director/senior manager at the time) and she said yes. When I came to interview it was clear that I was interviewing for the job of one of the people who were interviewing me. Everyone seemed to love me except for this person, who told me they don't hire managers and that I would have to report to him. He was very junior to me and seemed to only want to keep his title/piece of the kingdom. It was obvious I didn't want to be a part of that, so I declined the offer and not only was the person gone a few weeks later, they were gone from their next job a few months after that. There's some serious political stuff going on at Uber.

Woman accuses Uber of systemic misogyny, but, no, "the real problem" is poor project management? So, systemic misogyny not a real problem for you?

It sounds to me like the cutthroat system OP describes would cause the rise of the sort of people who would perpetuate systemic misogyny.

If by "the real problem" they meant "the root cause" then their theory does appear to fit the facts. I personally suspect it was "both" rather than "one caused the other" but have insufficient data to go beyond "suspect".

There is a difference between misogyny and sexual occurrences. If OP had been a male, she would have had as bad, if not worse experience.

That doesn't explain the bizarre jacket drama, or reports from other female coworkers.

The jacket drama had nothing to do with gender really and she was making a big deal out of something trivial. I can imagine the scenario is like "ok we're too cheap to create custom jackets for everyone so we will order the jacket size that fits the majority and the minority can try to fit in it". If the gender ratio was the other way around, there would be a similar situation.

The response to other reports are standard. Whether it is a homosexual boss or a female boss, the company will seek to protect itself.

Sure, and we could save money by only have women's restrooms on every other floor, or not at all since we can certainly save money by not hiring women at all. Its just economic sense: we know that its easier to find men, so lets just optimize for men. Then there's all that diversity training. And don't forget women create tension at the office because they are pretty and their women parts distract the men who can't be expected to control themselves.

If you think that any of this is trivial, you are part of the problem.

Your argument isn't relevant for the situation and is very black and white. Wearing male sized team gear is a trivial matter. There are obviously other cases where accounting for every minority is important but this is not one of them.

I do get that it's inconvenient but it's a huge slap in the face to tell a sizeable percentage of your workforce that no, you can't get them a jacket that almost everyone else now has. They could've at least given them something of equivalent value. Even if it might not be sexist, it's a dick move.

This is true of most big companies. Internally, there are at least three competing versions of what outsiders would consider the same project.

I think it's worth pointing out that this kind of male dominated culture doesn't just put off female engineers but male engineers too. As a male I've worked in environments with a high male to female ratio and it makes for a stifling homogeneous type of culture. I've never experienced the kind of sexist culture described at Uber but I imagine that must feel even worse as a male employee. I definitely see few women as a warning sign when interviewing.

I don't know what you mean by "even worse as a male employee", but I suspect you've drastically misspoken; you might want to fix that.

'spuz is familiar with male-dominated environments and finds them stifling. 'spuz is unfamiliar with a place as bad as what is described in the article and speculates that he would like that less.

Yes that's what I meant. Definitely did not mean to say it would be worse as a male than as a female so sorry if there was confusion.

I think he may have meant "worse even as a male employee" or something to that effect.

I totally feel the same way too (edit: but almost certainly not worse than how it feels for women). Having worked in both mixed and segregated teams, I much prefer having a good mix. It feels much more natural and normal.

Usually in these cases, these kind of company politics trickle down from the top, so it's unlikely the CEO does not know or has any interest in intervening. All the companies I worked at that had weird or toxic environments showed that kind of environment throughout most of their structure. A single arsehole in an otherwise great company is usually pushed out sooner than later. If however you notice there are mostly arseholes in your management structure, chances are this goes all the way to the top...

Yes. Culture is CEO's responsibility. Period.

The story got picked up by the Verge, and there's a response from Uber's CEO...


The fact that the story got the traction it did means that the response couldn't have possibly been anything other than what it was (disgust and a promise to look into it). Even if the CEO was directly responsible for this culture the response would be the same. I don't think it's possible to extract anything meaningful from it whatsoever at this point.

He did box himself in a bit with "...will be fired". At least boxed into firing somebody. Not at all saying his outrage is genuine, but initial corporate responses don't usually go that far.

I don't know if that really counts as 'boxed in'. The behaviour Susan described as widespread is absolutely unacceptable and in any sane company would be grounds for instant dismissal. If the CEO is acting in good faith then he wouldn't hesitate to act on any cases found - the fact that they have a new head of HR might indicate that a purge has already begun.

You appear to be reading something into my comment that I didn't mean, or say. The behavior described is absolutely appalling. All I'm saying is that the CEO's initial statement about it goes farther than usual...these are usually carefully crafted to convey sympathy but avoid liability or commitment to action. Usually words like "appropriate action" and not words like "fired".

I noted it solely because it's unusual.

Typical Travis. Reacting too late, and pretending to care only when a situation threatens revenue.

Once a culture exists, it is very, very difficult to change, even (especially) if you get a new CEO or an acquisition, etc.

It is true that if you are going to _attempt_ to change a culture, it must be motivated from top-down. However, placing that responsibility on the CEO alone is misunderstanding of how culture works.

It's a little akin to saying that culture is the President's responsibility. No, it's everyone's responsibility, and if you want to change it, the influential people in your org (country) must lead and reinforce that change.

The best you can say is that the founder(s) laid the groundwork for the culture. As with anything, changing the foundation later is extremely difficult.

That's what the research says, anyhow. I studied this briefly during my undergrad.

Yes. I've found it proportionally harder to change anything the bigger a group gets.

After a certain size the only way to make a change stick is get rid of people that disagree. Or, you can wait for pressure to wear those people down over... A period of years.

If Ubers culture is really this toxic the only way to fix it would be replacement of a fair amount of leadship in the company.

> It's a little akin to saying that culture is the President's responsibility. No, it's everyone's responsibility, and if you want to change it, the influential people in your org (country) must lead and reinforce that change.

To a point, but when HR gets involved and does not help, that IMHO is often due to the upper leadership being a big part of the problem. I've seen HR blow off inappropriate behavior when the CEO does or is okay with it.

>Once a culture exists, it is very, very difficult to change, even (especially) if you get a new CEO or an acquisition, etc.

clearly Stalin missed the memo

Anecdotally speaking, I've noticed that Uber has become a dirty word among my friends. For example, someone using Uber will generally just say that they're calling a car rather than naming the service. Lyft doesn't have the same stigma. It should be concerning to management that the company's ethos is repelling customers.

Edit: Management should be far more concerned that Uber is allegedly an environment that systematically enables sexual harassment and discrimination against women.

Isn't that due to the perception that they broke the recent anti-Trump taxi strike, rather than their internal work culture?

In the bay area at least a lot of us know at least one or two Uber engineers, and Uber has has an awful reputation around here for a lot longer than the month or so since that strike occurred. As a result of that (plus talking to drivers who work for both services and have strong preferences for Lyft) means that most of my friends were quietly boycotting Uber for years at this point.

I have one friend who worked at Uber and had years of experience working at another tech company beforehand. Uber basically refused to promote her, even going to far as to hire people significantly junior to her into those senior positions. In one case one of the people who was hired blatantly lied on their resume about their past experience, got caught out for it, and was still hired above her.

Even outside of the bay area Uber has taken many reputation hits for their stupid behavior. The whole incident where they were planning on digging up dirt on a reporter to ruin her character shows a huge lack of ethics at the top of the company. The "god mode" application and research into "one night stands" shows they have no respect for privacy.

I also hated the permissions increase they asked for about a month ago. They want to know my location for up to five minutes after I've finished taking a ride with their app? F--- that, uninstalled immediately.

> the perception that they broke the recent anti-Trump taxi strike

Something, it's worth noting, no less true of Lyft. And I think it's a little weird to be demanding owners of infrastructure lock out workers "in support of a strike". That whole reaction was absurd.

This article gives me substantially more pause.

I believe they're referring to the fact that Uber took specific action to promote itself by canceling surge pricing at JFK during the strike, not that it did anything passively through inaction.

Lyft did not negate surge pricing that day, AFAIK.

There's an argument that that's economically incoherent - a strike is about restricting supply, and surge is about increasing supply. Turning off surge does not work against the strike.

But that's actually immaterial: surge was turned off a half hour after the strike ended.

Lyft kept operating, Uber reacted to the strike by fixing low prices ensuring good will with desperate customers.

That's not the effect of turning off incentives that get more driver to go tot he area. Instead Ubers actions made it so that an increase in demand was not followed up with an increased amount of available drivers at the airport. It doesn't help you if prices are low if there are no cars available.

This was in my opinion a very appropriate way to respect the strike without forcing drivers to not make money unless they chose to do so themselves.

I've had this argument several times already, I'll sum it up one last time:

Lyft operating as normal: "Fuck this strike, making me pay tons of money bc of surge pricing"

Uber operating without surge: "OMG Uber my savior!!!!! / (can't actually find a cab bc of lack of availability) Whatever, not their fault, it's the stupid strike after all"

It was a calculated cynical ploy like literally everything else Uber does. I have no patience with them, particularly in a thread discussing sexual harassment within. Feel free to spin it as "a very appropriate way to respect the strike" or whatever.

Except Uber did not disable surge until a half-hour after the strike ended.

Yeah, it seems to me that optimal treatment of a strike would be something like: 1) cap surge (maybe to the typical value for the given time/area), 2) notify drivers when a request is from an affected area, 3) exclude cancellations of those rides from the drivers' metrics.

The biggest concern is that this puts Uber in the position of determining what is and isn't "legitimately a strike".

Except if you look at the timeline, surge was turned off some time after the strike ended.

Among my peer group (Denver) it's been the same. It has alot more to do with what we hear from drivers about the respective companies. For whatever reason drivers are happy to shill for Lyft and are often almost hostile towards Uber. At some point you just get the feeling that Uber isn't what we really wanna be supporting.

I should note: my peer group isn't particularly tech oriented.

Same experience for me. Drivers all have stories of how Uber has screwed them over, but have nothing but positive things to say about Lyft.

The few drivers I've spoken to say the Lyft app is simply way more reliable, for a start.

This predates #DeleteUber, and it's not only limited to the Bay Area. I've also observed this in Seattle, NYC, DC, Chicago, and to a lesser extent in LA.

The perception is closely tied to what people hear from drivers, constant negative media coverage, and being recognized as the epitome of a douchey tech company. Those three things combine to make using Uber distinctly un-cool in the eyes of many users. (Note that folks will use it anyway, but not talk about it.)

Anecdotally, the perception among my acquaintances is that they treat their drivers less well than Lyft does.

I don't think there is any stigma associated with Uber in Chicago. A lot of people will even say "I'm calling an Uber" even when they're using Lyft (name brand effect).

Definitely true. Case study in "any publicity is good publicity" -- they're always in the news as the assholes, but the market reality is it's a better service than waving your hand and maybe having a cab stop where the first thing the guy says is "meter is broken, cash only".

The services are more or less identical, but I always feel like I'm in the minority when I tell friends I'm calling a lyft.

I've noticed this. But tempting as it is to #DeleteUber, am I not mostly just hurting local taxi drivers who keep 75% of the revenue?

Not if you use Lyft.

Unfortunately, Lyft doesn't operate in the UK where I live.

But if you #DeleteUber won't your money be going to the taxi drivers? I'm not sure I understood your question.

They're using the term 'taxi drivers' to refer to the Uber drivers, not to local licensed taxi operators.

In the UK, Uber cars are local licenced private hire vehicles with the big "Pre-booked fares only" sticker on the front doors. You have to be licensed to drive for Uber[0].

0: https://www.uber.com/en-GB/drive/requirements/

> My CS classmates - especially women - simply do not apply to Uber,

The sad thing is why do men want to apply there after what is know about it? I wouldn't want to be near any company that treats any of their employees like that.

>The sad thing is why do men want to apply there after what is know about it?

Some students aren't privileged enough to graduate debt-free. Getting into any of these top compensating packages can mean being literally years less time being in debt.

When you are a new grad, you are more willing to put up with stupid nonsense for a year. Puts great experience on the resume and opens more door than previously before which sets up nicely for your 2nd job out of college. This is true for companies like Amazon.

This is true. Also a lot of grads just think, "I'm not a woman/minority therefore it doesn't affect me if I work there". Others think it sucks but will do it anyway because they want to get a big name on the resume and will take anything they can get.

A friend of mine worked there for less of a year, turns out he didn't realise they had a shitty reputation before joining...

Why do men end-up in dangerous yet good paying jobs? Because testosterone. Most young men are more willing to work a shit job if they can get good money than most women who value quality of life.

If we are going to go that route and using testosterone, I posit having more "testosterone" means standing up for what's right even if it means not getting the highest paying position.

> work a shit job

Right working as a developer at Uber with a high paying 6 figure job is now called a "shit job". I remember when collecting trash and mining was considered a "shit job", I guess we are from different generations...

> I posit having more "testosterone" means standing up for what's right even if it means not getting the highest paying position.

I've lived a long time with very low T. So I don't posit: I experienced how my decision process changed when getting back to normal. I just have to stop some meds and go back down to enjoy less impulsivity and a lot more security based decision making.

> Right working as a developer at Uber with a high paying 6 figure job is now called a "shit job".

Shittier than a simple 9-5 job in some corporation where you can have a good work-life balance, less stress bu less money.

> I remember when collecting trash and mining was considered a "shit job"

They still are. And still have a high percentage of men.

ditto, Uber's job postings on our internal school board are avoided like the plague.

The CEO is the problem. The fish stinks from the head.

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