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I am an Uber survivor (medium.com)
2168 points by NelsonMinar on Feb 27, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 768 comments

>Travis is well known to protect high performing team leaders no matter how abusive they are towards their employees. The HR team was known to be deftly[sic] afraid of Travis’s tendency to blame and ridicule the women and yell at HR whenever they went in with complaints of abuse. I heard about Travis personally congratulating Mike#2 for meeting strict deadlines months after I complained to HR about my abuse.

This is why I'm skeptical of Uber's promise to investigate these allegations. When I heard that they had retained Eric Holder to investigate, my knee-jerk reaction was petty and cynical: "Great, retain a Chicago politician so you know you'll get the answer you're paying for."

I was a little disappointed in myself at the time, but damn. With this company, I'm starting to think that impression might have been on the money.

Maybe I've watched too much Suits and The Good Wife, but it just seems that it's all futile. They're a huge corp, if you file suit against them they'll hit back harder with bigger and badder lawyers, and you either settle out of court, or play the lotto with the court system and try your hand at a judgement with whatever lawyers you can afford. It's really sad how stacked the odds seem.

Why is this being modded down? It's the truth. Big companies almost always come out on top in trials because they can afford the best lawyers, and they can afford to game the system to bankrupt their opponents by filing never-ending motions to delay and other tactics which increase the legal costs to the opponent. You're almost never going to get a positive result if you're a rank-and-file employee; your best course of action is to leave the company and find something better.

I personally know someone who went through this (related to IP, not sexual harassment). I understand the lawsuit dragged on for about seven years. He finally got awarded about eight million dollars in damages but hasn't been able to collect a single cent of it.

When Peter Thiel says "single digit millionaires have no effective access to the legal system" [1] on the surface that sounds laughable and out-of-touch but I think there's a lot more truth to this than most people would like to admit.

[1] http://www.businessinsider.de/peter-thiel-hulk-hogan-gawker-...

How does that work: He got awarded the money but can't collect it?

Between appeals and that verdicts won't normally contain anything about how promptly payments must be made, things can drag on a while, then there's the simple honest stuff like, "the whole board must meet to approve expenditures over $X" and the settlement will be over that $X.

That's completely typical in the US court system. Winning a judgment is completely separate from actually collecting that judgment, and entails extra legal work to go after the assets of someone who refuses to pay the judgment.

"Why is this being modded down? It's the truth. Big companies almost always come out on top in trials because they can afford the best lawyers, and they can afford to game the system to bankrupt their opponents by filing never-ending motions to delay and other tactics which increase the legal costs to the opponent. You're almost never going to get a positive result if you're a rank-and-file employee; your best course of action is to leave the company and find something better. "

You claim this is the truth. On what do you base any of this, other than TV?

It probably is quite different in the States but in my country, this is very true. If you are a lone individual fighting a legal case against a large organization, chances are you will be worn down by years of litigation that often appears endless. To dissuade litigants even further, cases are filed in far-off remote outposts that make such endeavors cost-prohibitive even further [1, for e.g.].

[1] http://www.livemint.com/Specials/13TE2UEtexMf1GDeEt5rCP/Mahe...

Add on top of this how easy it is to buy law enforcements here (including judges). It's like a very fair and open market. Whoever pays more gets the favour. That's exactly how he got that order passed in a district court (which is not even a high court - apex court of a state, let alone the Supreme Court - nation's apex court) by a judge who probably heard the word Internet for the sixth time in his entire life and the term "webpage" I am sure for the first time and was paid well for issuing the order.

"Why is this being modded down? It's the truth."

Since when has the truth been popular, or well received when it wasn't also what people wanted to hear?

Agreed. Are down modders anonymous? Seems unfair they can take 4x the points of a contributing comment.

It's not just the best lawyers. Uber have already started contacting anyone who knows Susan Fowler, digging for dirt on her.

How can you be so sure it was Uber? Susan's tweet was intentionally vague [0].

You are forgetting that some past and present employees that could be directly implicated by Susan's evidence may also choose the smear campaign route to save their hide.

This could range from the women in HR* who might get thrown under the bus by Uber for aiding and abetting, to the men that perpetrated the actual harassment.

*Of course this scenario playing out is highly unlikely given Uber's history.

[0] https://twitter.com/susanthesquark/status/835193441814392833

Isn't uber known for this? I remember them responding to a lawsuit or something by hiring PIs to get dirt on people - stuff beyond the merits of the case.

They've always ended up looking

Yes, they have threatened to dig up dirt on reporters and have even hired former CIA agents to go after information on someone who is suing them.

>Uber have already started contacting anyone who knows Susan Fowler, digging for dirt on her.

What a fantastic opportunity to send those assholes on a wild goose chase. Even better if they can somehow feed Uber bullshit that they later end up hanging themselves with.

That's risky, they don't need the truth they just need to be able to defend a liable suit.

Not judging cause the facts aren't fully known yet, but..

Doesn't matter. Court of law !== Court of public opinion. In fact, courts sometimes suspiciously follow the public mood.

Seems there is some recent evidence, in sexual harassment matters:

--Single accuser, no-one believes you --20 accusers, no one believes the accused

The floodgates don't open until #1 goes public, and more follow.

Uber is sitting on billions of dollars of VC money. I'm sure that there are some very high-powered law firms out there salivating at the chance to represent these women in a class-action lawsuit.

Maybe the victims won't get as much recompense as they deserve (because so much of the judgement will go to attorneys), but I would not be so sure that Uber will have them outgunned in court. At the very least, it could teach Uber a lesson by putting an expensive crater in their VC runway.

I'm afraid you have a poor idea of what makes high-powered law firms salivate. When they see someone sitting on a pile of billions of dollars, they don't think "how can I piss that person and all his friends off?" They think "how can become that person's best buddy?"

Maybe so. But it arguably depends on firm type.

Costs and expenses (including experts) are typically only a few percent of recoveries. Unless recovery ended up being much smaller than expected, anyway. Fees over 20% require substantive justification.[0]

0) http://www.maglaw.com/publications/articles/00392/_res/id=At...

$3 billion is from the Saudi sovereign fund..

As others have pointed on, on top of all that, even if you win, you're going to have a very hard time getting a job in the same field because of the law suit.

At this scale of awfulness and given how much cash Uber has, I imagine some very good employment lawyers are going to be shaking the bushes looking for as many plaintiffs as they can find, and wouldn't think of charging them to participate.

agreed, watching "the good wife" has been uncomfortably educational about how the system works.

I've never seen a movie or television show that portrayed something I knew well, where it was accurate.

Every time I thought I learned something from a movie or tv show it was because they were portraying something I didn't know a lot about. I would be very slow to say any kind of entertainment like this is educational.

It's also a fantastic show, to boot.

A disappointing end though in my opinion

The good fight (which is like the sequel) is turning out to be quite good though!

Get Peter Thiel on your side. He used the courts to kill Gawker.

Thiel has called Uber the most ethically challenged company[1]. But I think he's a Lyft investor. So maybe that's why?

On the other hand they both seem to get along really well with the current US president.

[1] http://time.com/3593701/peter-thiel-uber/

Not just any huge corp, but Uber - getting away with shady stuff is in their DNA

>"Great, retain a Chicago politician so you know you'll get the answer you're paying for."

Normally I don't care, but because I'm from Chicago and am officially very touchy about all the abuse the city catches, I'd like to correct the record as Eric Holder is from New York.

It sounds like they're using 'Chicago politician' as a character description (valid or not). Similar to how people might use Nazi (e.g. Grammar Nazi, or "You're such a Nazi!") etc.

and has never run for elected office.

But Attorney General is a political position, e.g. appointed by and serves at the pleasure of the U.S. President.

So is Administrator of NASA. I don't think being appointed AG makes you a politician.

"You think – excuse me – if you’ll pardon me – do you think American Presidents reward virtue?

Do they choose their appointees on the basis of the virtue of the people appointed or on the basis of their political clout?

Is it really true that political self-interest is nobler somehow than economic self-interest? You know, I think you’re taking a lot of things for granted. Just tell me where in the world you find these angels who are going to organize society for us ? Well, I don’t even trust you to do that." -Milton Friedman

Agree. I've lived both places. Clearly, NYC has more slippery characters. /bash

I've also heard that he puts ketchup on his hotdog.

More interesting, I think, that Uber has a standing relationship with the law firm Holder works for. Holder has previously worked on Uber's behalf: http://airport.blog.ajc.com/2016/06/15/former-u-s-attorney-g...

He does have a credible image, but the announcement sort of co-opted that to make it seem like he might be somehow independent in his thinking. In reality, he's a lawyer being paid by Uber. As such, he isn't really inclined to find all the dirt...Depends on where said dirt is.

Eric Holder certainly does already have an existing business relationship with Uber-


Is it just me or are other people also constantly surprised by how many big names have their hands in the 'uber pot'?

It's like there's a massive list of investors and shareholders who are all riding this "sure thing" to big riches. Which makes me wonder two things: 1.) is uber too big too fail? are there so many rich and powerful people invested that they will make uber succeed no matter or 2.) this thing could be the biggest investor flop in recent memory.

After Theranos nothing really surprises me in terms of big names in the pot.

I have wondered about this several times. Amidst so many scandals, what would it take for a zenefits-esque meltdown to take place at Uber? The `too big to fail` ethos never works out well for the consumer.

Nothing really surprising. I would imagine with some thinking and maths one could come up with a number e.g 5,000(just a made up number) power elites controlling media, finance, law and business but may not keep public facing roles all the time.

I hope they end up like Theranos.

I want them to change instead of ending up like Theranos. If Uber went down, a lot of good people would be out of a job (both employees and drivers) and it would burn a lot investors, thus negatively affecting the funding landscape for years to come.

To reiterate, I wish Uber to change. I don't wish them to fail.

> If Uber went down, a lot of good people would be out of a job (both employees and drivers)

Employees yes, drivers not so much. There's plenty of competitors that would love to fill that hole.

> and it would burn a lot investors, thus negatively affecting the funding landscape for years to come.

Maybe letting investors know that company culture of how people are treated has real negative consequences would signal to them that they should pressure these companies to behave in an appropriate manner. Burning investors for ignoring the writing on the wall about Uber's behavior (there's been indications of problematic behavior of executives for years) is exactly what needs to happen.

It's not so much pressuring founders to behave better, as choosing better founders. The "play hard", "meritocratic", "hashtag winning" douchebag seems to be a good choice because they work hard to appear to be a good choice and seem to have the drive to do big things. But if it all falls apart before they can achieve greatness because of the inherent douchefail, then that's a lesson investors need to learn. Don't bet on douchebags.

here here.

maybe voters will learn this too?

i was about to say that these events could make for a great teaching moment, but these are lessons we've been given many many many chances to learn. i'll settle for us once again avoiding eating ourselves alive as a species, and hopefully we avoid eating some scapegoat subset of us alive while we're at it.

Nah they need to fail. Lyft or another competitor would soak up the drivers immediately, a huge number of them already drive for both.

Silicon valley alums of a top tech company are not going to be hurting for jobs in the near future.

It sets the example that bullshit like this is not workable and will bring you down. There are no net downsides to uber falling.

> There's plenty of competitors that would love to fill that hole.

Maybe in the US. Elsewhere (e.g. Toronto), it's Uber or taxi.

But that's because new companies can't compete with the incredible amount of VC funding Uber (and Lyft) have received. Down here in Austin, after Uber and Lyft left, about a half dozen different competitors popped up in about a month. My favorite, Ride Austin, is a non-profit that takes a significantly smaller cut than Uber or Lyft and donates a ton of money to charity.

Nope. Speaking from India it's Ola or "Uber or something else" in big cities and Ola or something else in other cities or towns.

In fact there are many smaller startups that keep coming and going. Bikes, autos, cabs. In fact there was a bus startup too that failed just because it didn't have money to play against the system.

There are rumours of a huge business house (with pretty much endless supply of money and extremely easy access to the central Govt - in fact the PM on a personal level) entering the market.

I think they need to fail because the attitude needs to die. It's easier if they take it with them.

They brought a very Wall Street-esque aggressively cheat your way into becoming too big to fail, at any cost attitude into software. They were chummy with top-dollar lobbyists to get around pesky small-town regulations and unions. Some of those entrenched interests were bad, but even in defeating them, they weren't precisely taking from the rich and giving to the poor either.

The grass is always greener, but they do not resemble software heroes like Carmack or Stallman or (idiosyncratic pick) Newmark at all. When it comes to anti-authoritarianism and civil disobedience, I think Snowden not Kalanick. Even if you want a Randian libertarian, Jimmy Wales over Travis Kalanick.

Uber being too big to fail is delusion. Let the market work itself out.

That's a compelling argument, but I'm not actually sure I want that.

Uber's endgame is self-driving cars, which will put a lot more good people (Uber drivers and non-Uber drivers) out of a job. That's only feasible because of Uber's aggressive attitude to growth and crushing competition in long-term-unsustainable ways in the hope that the technology will materialize soon. If they change enough that this isn't their endgame or they don't pull it off in time, I don't know if they're financially viable.

I think that that goal and that pressure is part of why Uber is as rotten as it is (see how HR repeatedly doesn't want to fire abusive people who are allegedly high performers; even if the rest of their team would do better without them, Uber can't afford to figure that out).

Meanwhile, if they fail outright, it seems like basically all Uber drivers also drive for Lyft, and the engineering staff can get good jobs at lots of other places. It'll also be a good precedent for future companies not to try the strategy Uber has, and hopefully prevent more problems along these lines.

Many of them also drive for Lyft, so probably not.

I don't think Uber should go down but the guilty must be punished even the CEO if found guilty shouldn't be spared.

>"Great, retain a Chicago politician so you know you'll get the answer you're paying for."

right. regardless of where you stand on his performance as attorney general, hiring eric holder is a political move. if uber actually cared about investigating this, they wouldn't have hired a politician.

Eric Holder was AG. AG is not a political office, and he's not a politician. What you should be concerned with is the fact that he was associated with them previously and is a proponent of theirs.

> AG is not a political office, and he's not a politician.

AG is a Presidential appointment with Congressional confirmation. While those appointed are not necessarily politicians, it is most certainly a political position.

It is most certainly not. By your definition any appointee is a 'political position'. That term has a real meaning in the circles which matter (i.e., politics), and AG is not considered a political position. That's not to say an AG is completely separate from political realities, but the office is (supposed to be) non-partisan.

> By your definition any appointee is a 'political position'.

Direct Presidential appointees are absolutely political; cabinet members more than most.

> That term has a real meaning in the circles which matter (i.e., politics), and AG is not considered a political position.

It actually has a fairly vague and shifting meaning even within politics, but by virtually any of them the Attorney-General is very much a political position.

> That's not to say an AG is completely separate from political realities, but the office is (supposed to be) non-partisan.

That must be why Trump fired Sally Yates then...


Really, it's about as political as it gets. Or did you think Jeff Sessions would so much as be looked at under a Democratic president?

I'm from DC and used to work in politics. Everyone I know from that realm considers political appointees to be political positions, and call them such. The political positions are rough, because churn is pretty much guaranteed every 4-8 years.

They may be political positions, but are the office holders "politicians"? When they never ran in an election? That was the original question.

> By your definition any appointee is a 'political position'

Yes, exactly. The appointee is appointed to implement the administration's policies, which are political. During George W. Bush's administration, state Attorneys General were directed to pursue investigations of voter fraud. The eight who did not were fired in 2004 and replaced, which was very unusual.

> AG is not a political office

Anything involving the law is political.

Any time two people interact, politics comes up.

One doesn't retain Eric Holder to investigate. When a company has a race problem they pay a high profile member of that race some dough to appear to set things right. Does anyone know of such a case in which things were actually set right? I'm willing to believe that I've never heard the story because it's boring news, but still

As skeptical as I am with Uber, I'm still hoping that something will come up with the investigation. It also encourages me that more people are speaking up. The more bad press they get, the more pressure they'll have to have their "investigations" result in some discipline.

I work at Uber. What happened to Susan Fowler and Amy is terrible.

To give another side of the Uber story, I've seen nothing but respect on my team of ~25 engineers. Only a few of us are women, but also only a few of us are the "white male" stereotype that you see in the press. Everyone I've talked to on my team is aware of and upset about the lack of female engineers in tech.

I saw Uber's CTO (Thuan Pham, a Vietnamese refugee) downstairs at Uber the day Susan Fowler posted her article. A woman who works at Uber came up to him, and asked him how he's doing. He said, "It's a tough time, but we'll get through it." She told him, "I'm sorry, I know how much you care", and gave him a hug.

Arianna Huffington is on Uber's board of directors. She's in charge of helping Uber employees "lead healthier lives". In response to Susan Fowler's article, Arianna has been holding personal discussions with employees about what we're going to do to stop this type of thing from ever happening again.

It's easy to stereotype a company, but at the end of the day you're talking about ~12,000 individuals. Many if not most of whom came from Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc. I'm hopeful that these decisions didn't come from the top. It really may have been just a couple of individuals who did messed up things, and should/will be fired.

As I've pointed out elsewhere, Arianna's former chief of staff and managing editor, Jimmy Soni, was accused of exactly this sort of behavior [1]. In my circle there, those allegations were considered to be highly credible. And given the hush-hush departure, it doesn't seem to me like there was any real accountability.


Thanks for sharing that -- I think it's a good reminder to not stereotype an entire company. Also, it's also a reminder that this scandal is unfortunate for all of those at Uber who aren't like this and still have to deal with the barrage of bad press and accusations from everyone from the media to those around them (friends, neighbors).

If this article is truthful, then the problem is coming from the top, not just one manager being abusive.

Exactly. It's not an independent investigation if you hire the investigators.

Who else could hire the investigators?

It's a tricky problem, but ultimately you rely on the investigators caring more about their reputation than any one contract. If it gets out that firm X doesn't do objective reviews, then future companies in hot water won't hire them.

The real challenge here is that these investigators are not independent. Eric Holder has done prior work on behalf of Uber, which means he could reasonably be biased towards the company.

Yes, the investigator's _reputation_ is put at stake. But, reputation in the eyes of whom?

1. The public at large, who want to see standards of civic probity upheld? Or, 2. Future clients, who will want value for their money?

Delivering #2 requires writing up a designed narrative, in magisterial rhetoric. A narrative that hides all the dirt that isn't likely to come out anyway, and redirects culpability toward low-ranking dispensables, whether guilt or not.

Eric 'too big to fail' Holder defined his career on #2.

There's a curious parallel with a certain class of business managers who "extract brand value" by slowly debasing quality, then folding up shop. For example, Hollywood movie sequels, or for-profit colleges.

For a big name like Holder, "folding up shop" would mean something like a beachfront retirement, in Malibu.

With a functional regulatory framework, you wouldn't need private entities handling this; public ones could.

Who else could hire the investigators?

The independent directors on a company's board should hire the investigators, who then should report back to those directors.

Of course, in most startups, just like in many public companies, "independent" directors often aren't.

Yes, now get me some AAA rated bonds.

The board, to decide if it's time to fire Travis.

Independent only means independent of the company's staff. Whether objective or partial to the company is a different story.

It seems that Uber has strong correlation between "abusive" and "seen as high performer".

One wonders if something from the investors world view went into uber..

I'm really happy she felt comfortable doing this. What an incredibly brave and strong person—I can't imagine what she must be feeling.

What I really want to see is the other 20 men on her team tell their bosses to cut that shit out.

We cannot rely on the abused to stand up for themselves; for every one who does there are thousands who cannot. It is on every one of us to report abhorrent behaviour, even if we think someone else has/will.

Change comes from those in power, from people who could very rationally not care, but who go out of their way to do the right thing. It isn't an economic decision, a business decision, or a political decision. It is a personal decision on the world one wants to live in.

We can do better. We must do better. Enough is enough.

> What I really want to see is the other 20 men on her team tell their bosses to cut that shit out.

It sounds like the abuse is pretty universal, from the article: "It was normal for guys to refer to other guys as fags when they didn't participate in private parties where sex and drugs were involved."

The 20 other men on her team were probably as concerned with keeping their job and not being abused. The big difference is that they can appear to fit in because they're men; women have a much more difficult job of it. But whenever everyone is keeping their head down, it's hard to notice that other people's issues.

The whole psychology of bullying comes into play and that is pretty complex. Yes, if everyone stood up against the bully they would win but how often does that happen in real life? Most people in this situation would likely just quit than put up with that environment so you're already left with those who can't or won't.

I'd like to think I wouldn't let that stuff happen around me but honestly I'm pretty unlikely to work in that environment in the first place. Where I do work, the culture is great and we are near 30-40% women in IT/Dev without even trying to hire for diversity.

>It sounds like the abuse is pretty universal, from the article: "It was normal for guys to refer to other guys as fags when they didn't participate in private parties where sex and drugs were involved."

Full disclosure, I work at Uber.

I have been staying out of this until now, but this point particularly grinds my gears.

If I heard anything remotely like what was discussed in this article you bet your ass I'm going to speak up. I know people do not speak of me, but watching my entire company be vilified is a bit difficult and hard to not take personally. I work with a lot of fantastic engineers that would not tolerate anything remotely like the behavior outlined in this article for a second. That's the problem with gigantic companies though, things often happen in dark corners that aren't apparent to the rest of the organization. People want to conflate specific incidents with the state of the entire company.

I had one opportunity to speak up when my female teammate was being discriminated against, and I took it. It wasn't even blatant either, the guy could easily defend himself and say it's not a sexism thing, but that's what it was. He's a massive jackass too, but you can't fire people on the spot for being a massive jackass without a lot of evidence to back it up. I did my part.

I cannot speak for anybody else, but I can tell you in my corner of the Uber world I take this shit very seriously, and so does everybody else I work with. The bullshit that is going on is not representative of my team, and it's very very hard to not take this personally.

The problem I have is that everybody wants to chime in with how awful Uber is like they know something I don't. Now I'll admit, there's a lot I don't know about working at Uber, as I only know my corner of the company. If I'm saying that what does that say about everybody else? Do these people think for a second that I would have stuck around and stuck it out if I saw this bullshit going on first hand?

I'm not going to be the one that stands up and defends leadership, or HR, or whomever else, they can speak for themselves just as I speak for myself.

I had a similar experience at a previous company I worked at, and a similar reaction. When people heaped criticism on them for sexism I essentially said "no way, I've never seen any of that, this is outrageous, you're slandering the good guys".

Well, as it turns out, they weren't. A female engineer I knew in passing wound up writing an essay similar to this one describing her horrible treatment at the hands of one of her coworkers and HR. I was shocked, but I also knew her well enough to know that she wouldn't make up something like that. She shared that story as her goodbye email from the company.

Even now, I'm baffled and angry about the response the company made. I don't know why it was handled that way, and I don't know why her coworker acted so wretchedly. It boils my blood, and mixed in with that and the bewilderment is a certain sense of shame that I had misplaced my trust so badly.

Anyways, I guess all of that is just a long way of saying that I hear where you're coming from and hope your experience ends better than mine did.

Thanks, this is pretty much exactly what I'm going through, especially because I personally know Susan. It is outrageous to hear what has happened to her, and has affected me quite personally.

It's great to hear that Susan's experience is not the case on every team.

Uber clearly does a lot of things very well, and although I posted in a different comment that perhaps Travis should go I think that the best outcome would be that the company can learn from these events and become better as a result.

> It's great to hear that Susan's experience is not the case on every team.

What? No it's not. If it was like that on every team, you would basically be describing hell. "Better than absolute hell" is nothing to celebrate.

> "Better than absolute hell" is nothing to celebrate.

Well I think that it's useful in the midst of stories like this to realize that yes, most people are nice, kind, etc. Perhaps most Uber employees are like that. It should give hope to anyone who is working somewhere that should be better who is inclined simply to quit vs trying to make it better.

It's useful for people who are not under assault, for whom the worst aspect of this situation is that their egos are being threatened.

For people dealing directly with harassment it's a pointless distraction. Of course there are good people. Anyone who is dealing with harassment knows their are good people, because shitty people are harassing them. The difference is not an academic one for them, it's a material one.

For you, the scariest thing about this thread is apparently that someone might think everyone on earth is bad? No that can't be. Your priority is ensuring we all remember not all Uber employees are bad? You're worried about the reputations of non-harassing Uber employees?

Sorry, I'm struggling here. What's useful about reminding people amidst a harassment crisis that not everyone ja bad?

Thank you Eric for replying here. I agree that 'better than hell' is not a reason to celebrate. This is my first time creating an account on hacker news and posting because i felt compelled to agree with you. Too many people are still sound complacent about the state of things. Why does everyone's bloo d not boil reading this and Susan's account? Why is everyone not prompted to take one step to make the workplace better for women in tech no matter how small.

>I had one opportunity to speak up when my female teammate was being discriminated against

>He's a massive jackass too, but you can't fire people on the spot for being a massive jackass without a lot of evidence to back it up.

The implication of this is that you also have experience at Uber working with somebody who is unfireable despite being a "massive jackass" and engaging in sex discrimination against at least one female employee there, while you were around as a witness. It's good that you spoke up when he acted like that, I don't mean this as a personal attack on you or your coworkers specifically. But your anecdote here reads like one more story confirming issues with Uber's management/HR, even though you've intended it otherwise.

He clearly mentioned "It (sexism) wasn't even blatant either..".

In every company there are 'Jackasses' (selfish egotist managers, politically malevolent colleagues etc.) who can never be fired for their specific ways of 'jackassery'. In this Uber narrative it was not anyway implied that this person was always sexist jackass.

I'm just being respectful of the anonymous Uber engineers who are speaking up. This would only lead to goodness for the existing female employees who are there in Uber and other companies.

Thanks for speeaking up for me, this is exactly what I meant. It is really hard to stand up by myself against the deluge of negativity, thanks.

It is funny.

Here you are perhaps doing the same (vocalizing on behalf of silent majority of good individual engineers at Uber) and the HN crowd is piling on to you; perhaps no different behavior than what they are trying to preach against.

After reading about the egregious violations of privacy, threats against journalists, flagrant violations of the law in many countries and cities around the world and the fact that the top man of Uber was willing to serve under a Trump presidency, I don't think you can be too surprised about all the negative comments!

I feel like you didn't really read my post. You don't fire somebody the first, or even second, time they mess up. There are plenty of people at plenty of companies that /should/ be fired, but have not yet because you generally don't fire somebody without overwhelming evidence. This is not a problem exclusive to Uber.

Despite the fact I pretty clearly explained the problem, you still read into it the way you wanted the narrative to be read.

Just because you don't think someone should be fired without "overwhelming evidence" (California is at-will, of course you can fire someone for being a massive jackass that makes/made sexist comments), doesn't mean your anecdote doesn't corroborate the sentiments of this article. Despite the fact that you felt like you dealt with the situation, it still shows that this type of thing happens at Uber, even in "your corner of the company", and that it likely happens more than you know -- when you aren't around, around others who are less likely to speak up, etc.

>(California is at-will, of course you can fire someone for being a massive jackass that makes/made sexist comments)

There are more considerations like whether you're willing to pay unemployment, or open yourself up to a lawsuit depending on the circumstances.

So basically, Uber is LESS willing to risk a lawsuit for firing bad/sexist/asshat employees and MORE willing to risk a lawsuit from employees who bear the brunt of the abuse.

Oh yea thats right. As other have discussed, its because Uber is a juggernaut corp who will out-spend the legal competition anyway, so Uber doesn't care.

I appreciate your defense that "it isn't everyone" and "I am an Uber engineer and I stand up for women/gays/minorities", but I'm not sure we are getting at the larger picture here.

Its the movers and shakers at the top who need to start setting the right example instead of protecting their golf buddy who is making 6 figures. You have done your part, but this needs to go all they way up to the top.

You'd think they would at the very least care about the bad press in terms of quarterly/yearly earnings and the potential loss of customers/drivers because of the PR fallout.

If the "mess up" is deliberately discriminating against somebody over a protected class like sex, I think firing them immediately is a fair and arguably ideal action to take. I would be surprised if this wasn't the standard operating procedure in most companies.

I assumed from the phrase "massive jackass" in your post that cruel behavior from him was typical and dramatic enough to be a marked pattern. Most companies /are/ willing to fire people who repeatedly disrespect and are cruel to their coworkers. It's part of a bare baseline that you need to maintain to have a decent work environment for your employees. You and the woman he discriminated against makes at least two separate eye witness reports to an egregious offense (protected class discrimination), and I assumed from your description of him that his cruelty wasn't just exposed to you two.

You're making a lot of assumptions. You assume that the interaction where he was discriminatory took place with my teammate. That's not the case, it was a comment made to me and only me. I recorded and documented it's something that was followed up on.

I understand you're outraged at people for their discriminatory behavior but you need to recognize you don't know the facts.

You could do one thing to prove the point about not defending leadership and not standing up for this kind of bullshit right away. It sounds like "Mike #2" ought to be sufficiently unambiguous for Uber employees to identify, so can you name that person?

There are nearly 2000 engineers at Uber, with people coming and going every week. I'm not even sure I know the /team/ the author is writing about.

Practicality aside, how stupid do you think I would have to be to start a massive witchhunt against somebody who has had allegations made against them by an anonymous person?

> Practicality aside, how stupid do you think I would have to be to start a massive witchhunt against somebody who has had allegations made against them by an anonymous person?

They weren't talking to you they were talking to the person who asked for the witch hunt.

Although somebody does know exactly who this is and never should have let it slide. Those of you with your head down, it's time to go over your boss's head and say something.

>They weren't talking to you they were talking to the person who asked for the witch hunt.

That's the same person I replied to. I think you took my comment to be in reply to another comment of the same depth.

My bad. I misjudged the indents.

As much as I would love to see "Mike #2" publically castrated, there is a fairly high chance of causing an innocent person significant grief by going down this path. Please don't trigger a witch hunt. Justice must be discharged with tremendous care to protect the innocent.

Its the way the HR responds that is of more concern than how other engineers respond.

How do we know you're a Uber engineer and not some rented astroturfer? You better balance some binary trees for us right now, son.

Blatant sexism is quite high bar. IMO, most of it is in grey area where whoever is thinking that way can easily deny everything. There is usually aspect of being unsure whether you are really discriminated against or whether it is that you are really doing something wrong and needs improvement.

In any case, it is good you took the opportunity to speak up. Even if the company does not change anything, knowing that it is not all colleagues who consider you to be less helps to put things into perspective. For me personally, when something similar happened, it mattered a lot. Not just felt better, but really made difference in how I seen my position, how I was confident afterwards and how I trusted colleagues in general.

I am trying to say that the action like yours may have positive impact on colleges even if you did not seen it.

You, with the rest of us, have been treated to more than enough coverage of the issues at Uber to know that this isn't a series of isolated incidents.

If you really wouldn't stand for this sort of thing, then quit your job.

I don't get this. You don't know anything about working at Uber except secondhand accounts. Where do you get off dictating morals to me? You don't think I'm a person that stands up for what's right?

You know nothing about what I'm doing, who I am, or anything about working at Uber except the worst of the worst. Yet here you are acting condescending, because you've read a bunch of newspaper articles you're morally superior.

I tremendously resent comments like yours. I hope you consider how offensive your comments are.

I agree with this, it is easy to tell others what they should do. You should never quit rashly over something like this anyway, figuring out a long-term exit; maybe.

Also you are very right it is hard to say for anyone if we would have done what you have, very easy to imagine ourselves doing the right thing but so much harder in the moment.

Ehhhhh it's not as if this is the first time Uber has repeatedly been in the news for abusive behavior. You guys have a reputation of being vile to a really diverse group of people (drivers, tech types, news media). FFS Uber is a company whose core values are thumbing their nose at the rule of law (rah rah disruption... gag).

So, no, I'm not going to suggest you quit your job. Hell, I don't even think you condone the nasty behavior coming out of your employer. But, by working at Uber, you are very directly helping a company that is about as far away from "do no evil" as possible. You're directly contributing to making the world a worse place and that sucks. That's pretty offensive to me. You're aiding and abetting a company that absolutely feeds into the anti-tech narrative in the Bay Area and that is personal. And, yes, I resent that.

What is your opinion on the reports about Travis ignoring red flags on this kind of behaviour inside Uber?

I agree, but for people to step up and complain, there needs to be a system around them that supports it.

The crazy part about these stories is not that Uber has a few awful people, and it's not that there aren't people who will speak up and complain. The crazy part about these stories is that HR seems to be systematically supporting the few awful people and antagonizing the people who speak up and complain.

It really sounds insane to me, too. No shop I've ever worked at is remotely like that.

Trying to fight against bullying takes 300% of the effort it takes to bully :/

20 idiots!!

This is the part that really hits me. When, in a meeting, Mike#2 says to "stop being a whiny little bitch", and he's not fired on the spot, something is not just wrong with Mike#2, something is systemically wrong.

I don't work in Regular Tech (I'm in a teacher-education nonprofit), so I'm not as exposed to the SV bro culture. I'd like to think I'd speak up and fight for people who are marginalized in my workplace. I wonder if I actually would. It's so easy to be quiet, laugh it off, and go back to your daily, if it's not you.

Let's not make excuses by blaming this on something like a widely-spread yet widely-derided culture. This behaviour is inexcusable, there is no excuse here. If you see something like this, as a man, you say something, and you stand up for your coworker. Otherwise, you lose your man license.

> you lose your man license.

If you want men to do something, just threaten their masculinity. It seems you know the infallible trick of emasculation.

Yeah, I think this is tricky. There's the individual accountability thing, which I agree with. If you are in that room and say nothing or laugh it off, you are complicit. But I think that the systemic misogyny is also something that needs to be addressed - the fact that the entire Uber culture seems to be saying 'this behavior is okay if you're a high performer' us up and down the chain and extends to people who aren't in the room where it happens.

A good deal of this is the entire system of control Uber has (or really, hasn't) implemented here.

We already know that managers at Uber use reviews to punish those on their team that are at all critical of them (especially for ethic issues). The "20 men on her team", even if they did want to say something, could reasonably expect to have their careers (and potentially a material amount of Uber stock vesting) impacted by standing up.

That's not to say that these men couldn't have or shouldn't have stood up, but they would've had to take some amount of risk to do so. In a company with better controls, these men would've felt comfortable criticizing this manager (and confident that they weren't endangering their careers or financial well-being by doing so).

If Uber had implemented a good system of control, we wouldn't be talking about this in the first place. The question is what do we do when there isn't a good system.

Yes, there is risk to speaking out. It wouldn't be brave to do so if there were no risk. I do think it takes people who are already in a relative position of power to minorities and women in tech–which includes men at the same level—saying that this will not stand, in order for real change to come about.

> If Uber had implemented a good system of control, we wouldn't be talking about this in the first place.

The system of control doesn't have to be optimized for good. In a situation like this -- where managers seem to operate without fear of reporting or push back from underlings -- there likely is a lot of control in place already.

> Yes, there is risk to speaking out. It wouldn't be brave to do so if there were no risk.

The same could be said of the victims themselves and highlights the problem with this attitude: betting on bravery is long odds.

If workers are highly dependent on managers' approval -- not of their work, but of their opinions, character, manner -- then they will learn to keep their heads down and go along to get along. It's too late when something like this happens.

One of the dirtiest tricks that Uber uses -And I found this out through firsthand experience - Is doing performance reviews where all feedback is public (I think technically it's only shown to your manager and team lead, except they're expected to make it public). This prevents you from writing negative feedback, and even damning with faint praise is a sure strategy to face retaliation. Rather than work out, privately, when one of your coworkers is underperforming, you only have the option of naming and shaming.

I'd really like a culture where this was viable - I'd love for nearly everything to be done in the public sphere, and even 'backstabbing' to be handled in the clear, but since Diffie–Hellman exists, it's not viable.

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it"

- Upton Sinclair

That happens to be one of the quotes in one of the related articles Medium suggests at the bottom that's worth the read: https://medium.com/@dhh/deleting-uber-is-the-least-you-can-d...

What specifically is the move forward here, though? I suppose hn as a community has the power to boycott applying to the company, but how else can we drive internal change from an external position?

Uninstalling the app and simply choosing to use a competitor's services are another option, but sapping the entire organization of revenue seems like it would hurt drivers and developers at least as much as management, if not more so. Do you think this merits organized public protest? Is the average Uber user aware of the issues/incensed enough to actually take to the streets?

Obviously I'd like to see a change, but I'm struggling with how best to actually make this happen.

OK Cupid blocked Firefox, a non-profit with less questionable business practices than most tech companies and certainly Uber, over Eich's quiet private donation which ought to be a smaller deal than systematic sexual harassment with consequences for victims instead of perpetrators (although the donation was proven while the harassment is alleged; I doubt this tips the scales of public sentiment though.) The overall reaction on HN was mostly positive. I'm sure an Uber boycott can be figured out. (Is it a good idea? I dunno, in Eich's case the question is different from this case and there's much to discuss, I'm just saying that people these days are fairly eager to boycott and fairly good at it once the proper mood sets in.)

The two cases are incomparable. What happened to Eich was injustice, as in a democratic state, he is (read: is supposed to be) free about supporting whatever idea he wants. We might not like it, yet "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." What happened was hypocrisy pure, and OkCupid got some positive PR from the situation. In a world where this sort of stuff works, we'll quickly end up with Inquisition and witch-hunts, reversed.

WRT Uber, their business model is shady to begin with, and that's not the only shady thing about them. Yet, the post is anonymous, and sincere though it sounds, nobody can be sure that the allegations are true. If cost of a lawsuit is the concern, I believe there are many organisations out there who'd help with the case.

So. Eich funding discrimination is free speech, whereas OK Cupid blocking his browser is not. Because why?

Aside: great insights into the victimhood mentality of the free speech zealots.


There's no discrimination issue here. Just like one can support a given law, they can oppose it too. OK Cupid's move has nothing to do with free speech at all, and I believe in neither the sincerity nor the aptness thereof. Eich's actions were legal, peasurable or not, and within the protection of basic human rights.

(WRT same-sex marriage issue, I believe that civil unions should replace all kinds of marriage we've today and it should be left to the individuals to decide what their partnership(s) mean to them, wrt their philosophical/religious stances.)

Why is it a free speech issue for Eich to make a donation but not for OKC to choose not to associate with his organization? I fail to see the distinction, especially since the right to free association is closely linked to free speech. This argument has never made any sense to me. Eich's actions were protected from retaliation by the government; if you argue that the same must hold true for private individuals and organizations then you're really saying some speech needs to be more protected than others. How do we draw those lines?

- Firefox does not belong to Eich, and Eich's words are not representative--good or bad they be--of Firefox users or Firefox developers.

- OKCupid blocking a certain browser to access their website means that who uses Firefox to use their service has to either agree the company and boycott Firefox themselves too or not use the service. That is, they forced those users to participate in the boycott.

- OKCupid is a company, so all of its actions are not only in the name of their executives, but also in the name of the users.

- What they did boiled down to a public shaming campaign, hurting, unjustly, not only a person who used their freedom to support a given political quest, but also a huge community around Firefox and Mozilla that had nothing to do with Eich's political tendencies. Free speech is not useful at all if we let the loudest to win.

What OKCupid did is probably defendable in front of law, but is completely unethical and exploitative. They tried to start a lynch to silence someone. It's no different to shaming someone for being homosexual or calling someone with the N word and excluding them. And it was an attempt to suppress freespeech, not an act thereof.

I mean, I can tear down Eich's actions the same way to justify what OKC did. That's entirely besides the point however, and my previous point still stands. Even if I buy your premise that OKC's actions are unethical, their speech should be exactly as protected as Eich's! I happen to think Eich's action was unethical for a number of reasons, but I'm not arguing against his right to make it.

EDIT: Let me also say it like this: who decides which speech is ethical or honest enough to be protected as free speech? You don't have to agree with what OKC did, like them, or even want to do business with them ever again. But you can't deny they're exercising their free speech and free association rights.

> their speech should be exactly as protected as Eich's!

Agreed. When I said their actions have nothing to do with free speech, I meant that they weren't confronting a free speech issue. They have the right to do what they did (IANAL, competition laws may apply, though I don't know much about American law).

> Let me also say it like this: who decides which speech is ethical or honest enough to be protected as free speech?

The only one who gets to moderate is the speaker themselves, and the listener. And my view is that OKCupid boggled here.

> You don't have to agree with what OKC did, like them, or even want to do business with them ever again. But you can't deny they're exercising their free speech and free association rights.

Ditto. But I also think that the companies should stay neutral, especially those who serve registered users, for they represent them in that using their service continuously may (and do) cause people to get labeled with the company's tendencies.


We've banned this account. HN is not for political and ideological battle, regardless of which political flavor. Combining that with personal incivility is particularly unwelcome.

Please don't create accounts to break HN's guidelines with.



I hope taw24 can step back and appreciate the irony here (considering this thread's topic).

Thanks as always for the excellent moderation.

I don't really understand what this comment means.

OK Cupid behaved poorly in that matter - after getting what they wanted (Eich resigning), they didn't act to resolve the reputational damage they'd done. All too quick to pop up a message saying "mozilla is the devil"[1], but afterwards, no message saying "okay, the situation has been resolved in our favour, you should go back and try it out". I lost a lot of respect towards the site from that.

[1] despite gay and lesbian developers coming out and saying that Eich's personal opinions on the issue didn't translate to company culture and they felt a positive atmosphere working there.

an interesting debate. if i build my company on abuse and shady tactics, but i now employ 10,000 employees, is it okay to let me get away with it because so many depend on me? This is the too-big-to-fail issue.

This whole too-big-to-fail reasoning really galls me.

When a company is too big to fail it means that if it fails there's a systemic risk for an entire economy. Banks (and it's mostly banks), which are too big to fail are so interewoven with other banks, multinational companies and the economy as a whole that a failure can bring other institutions to the brink of exctinction and by extension wreck havoc on the entire economy.

Thousands of people out of a job does not mean too big to fail. No more being able to hail an Uber may be inconvenient, but it's no systemic risk to the economy.

Look at Enron. They had north of 20'000 employees when they imploded. And they where in a far more critical sector of the economy than Uber can ever dream to be. While it was brutal for the employees (who partially lost their life savings) and while I think there should be a special place in hell for the responsible executives Enron's demise had hardly any effects on the economy as a whole.

I'm not jumping on you personally. It's just that this too-big-to-fail nonsense in combination with Uber is thrown around an awful lot recently.

And it's utter bullshit.

The drivers aren't going to be hurt; half of them are already working for Lyft anyway (they have two phones, one for each service), so the rest will just move to the competition if Uber goes under, and they'll probably be better off for it anyway. Same goes for the developers; there's no shortage of jobs in Silicon Valley.

There is no way to change a company's internal culture from outside. The only thing you can do is punish it.

Consumer action like boycotts and social media posting is nice, but I think the solution to this problem is lawsuits. Victims can seek redress through the courts, which both compensates them and holds the company directly to account for their actions.

For a lot of reasons participating in lawsuits is challenging for the victims, and I am in no way criticizing any individual for not going through all of that. I just think that really making an impact is going to require more than a few hundred app deletions and some bad PR.

How about a class action?

Lois E. Jenson v. Eveleth Taconite Co.

Jock v. Sterling Jewelers Inc.

This is kinda like saying, "We should never punish a company for wrongdoing, because they'll pass that on to customers and employees." It doesn't really hold water.

i think public pressure of the board of directors is the right approach here:

Shervin Pishevar, John Gurley, David Bonderman, David Drummond, Arianna Huffington, Garrett Camp, Ryan Graves

some of these people have reputations that are worth more than their stake in uber. the desire to uphold their reputations may be enough to get them to truly act on this matter.

At this point, the ouster of Kalanick is the only blood sacrifice that would be sufficient. The rot goes all the way up to the CEO.

> sapping the entire organization of revenue seems like it would hurt drivers and developers at least as much as management, if not more so.

Drivers can easily move to Lyft or other competitors (at least in markets where Lyft is active). In fact, I would venture that most drivers already drive for both Lyft and Uber.

Developers can (and should) look for jobs at other companies.

Reminds me of 'Bystander Apathy'[1]: i.e. when there is a person in need, the greater the number of people, the less likely anyone will help.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bystander_effect

If I saw a manager do what she described, no matter how high up the food chain he was, I'd frog march him to HR myself. I don't even care if they fire me for it. We don't tolerate stuff like this in this century.

I know. What I'm struck by in all this is that much of Uber's staff must be really junior. Not just the assholes at the center of these stories, but everyone else around these incidents. Which kind of contradicts the idea that they are a bunch of high performers.

I had much the same thought. It's far easier to death march the youth. Try the same management style on someone older and they'd simply quit.

Are there any avail statistics on their age distribution? Based on what I've read, it seems like people over 30 is in a minority, not to mention the impossibility to find anyone over 40.

That'd be hard to find in a public company, let alone private.

Probably only until it became obvious that HR was suffering from the corporate equivalent of 995.81 (battered person syndrome) and will give a response of "Oh, he's a good person and has never done this before and I'm sure he'll never do it again, and if we rock the boat we'll be targeted as well."

Frankly I think Uber has long passed the point where I expect to start hearing about leaked recordings and cellphone videos of this kind of thing instead.

It's even better when it's "Oh, he's a good person and has never done this before and I'm sure he'll never do it again" followed by studiously failing to document the incident so that every time is the first time.

Have you seen who is President these days?

To be fair, it is more nuanced. While everyone knows Trump "is sexist and makes comments and stuff like that" (quote from the linked article) at the same time he has glowing testimonials by women who worked for him and who he promoted to top jobs in a "boys club" industry.


> The picture many current and former employees paint stands in contrast to the blustering controversies prompted by Trump’s comments since he hit the campaign trail. .... Those who have worked for Trump say looks aren’t everything. He is more interested in hiring smart people, regardless of gender, they say, and that has led Trump for decades to rely on strong, assertive women both as gatekeepers and as advisers. Several of Trump’s female employees said he fostered a positive work environment.

> While everyone knows Trump "is sexist and makes comments and stuff like that" (quote from the linked article) at the same time he has glowing testimonials by women who worked for him and who he promoted to top jobs in a "boys club" industry.

Finish the sentence please? Are you suggesting that one cancels the other out? Or that maybe he's just a great guy after all and just the victim of smear campaigns?


Putin is the president of Russia. Trump is the president of the United States.

Thanks for clearing that up. It's getting pretty hard to tell the difference.

> What I really want to see is the other 20 men on her team tell their bosses to cut that shit out.

You're being surprisingly lenient in your assessment here. I'd argue they need to tell their bosses to fuck off and find another job.

I don't disagree, but consider that many of these engineers are sitting on illiquid stock options valued at millions to tens of millions of dollars.

You're asking people to stand up for what's right when it may cost them millions of dollars of incentives and the loss of years of their life in career investment. That doesn't make it right to look the other way when these kind of abuses occur, but is it any wonder that people don't speak up when the incentives are lined up so strongly against doing so?

It's always easy to ask someone else to make a significant sacrifice for the sake of your moral code. It's much harder to do so yourself.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

Agreed, and I'm not defending Mike#2 in any way, but good men perhaps have children. Mortgage. Family plans and life goals. It's a really shitty situation.

Perhaps evil triumphs if great men do nothing?

Thats a little hyperbolic. These aren't rust belt coal miners. With a name brand like Uber on your resume you could quickly get plenty of competitive job offers in SF/SV without even trying. Its hard for me to see an excuse for this, other than widespread cultural acceptance/willful ignorance of these practices.

The bar for "good" is lowered when there is money on the line?

Well it's great for them to have those, but they gotta do more for me to consider them as good. In my eyes, they're just looking out for themselves and their family.

What I really want to see is the other 20 men on her team tell their bosses to cut that shit out.

Agreed 100%, but maaaan I have seen it where you would defend someone just so they can turn against you because of the same fear that originally prevented them from speaking out loud. Then they make peace with the abuser and now you are the one left holding the burning candle. It is a very tricky situation.

I'm not in the business of defending Uber - quite the contrary - but reading through the comments it seems that most people are assuming that this post by an anonymous person is 100% true.

These types of posts are worrying to me. Why could this post not have been crafted by someone at Lyft? Or one of Uber's many other detractors? Given the PR nightmare that Uber is in why not pile on while the public seems primed for that type of information and stretch out the negative news cycle?

Just thought I'd throw out a word of caution: we know literally nothing about the credibility of this person.

She posted anonymously, BUT also went out of her way to provide an awful lot of information about herself. Information that her ex-coworkers could presumably verify and figure out her real identity (especially since Uber seems to have very few women in engineering positions).

Based on the article, she is:

  1) A woman in her late 20s
  2) who used to work at Uber in Engineering working on database and networking scalability
  3) went to a top private college
  4) has a Masters in Information Systems
  5) previous to Uber worked as a Data Analyst in a tech company in the Midwest and left when it was acquired by a Chinese firm
  6) is 5 foot 7 Caucasian with dark hair
  7) never wears high heels
So yeah, the target demographic of the article is almost certainly her ex-coworkers. It seems to be a call to action of sorts.

But the OP's point stands generally: If this were a smear campaign by a competing company, how different would it look?

I sympathize greatly with Ms. Fowler not least because she put her reputation out there and claimed to have documentation of the specific offenses, which a decently respectable journalism outfit like the NYTimes could fact-check. Fowler's story could be exaggerated, but I have reasonable doubt that it's true, or true enough to merit scorn toward Uber.

As inexcusable as this "Amy"'s story is if true, we have to keep our heads and recognize when we have a falsifiability problem on our hands with the current facts.

It just seems surprising to many of us that this skepticism only seems to crop up in situations surrounding racial or gender discrimination.

Can you describe a general situation where this kind of skepticism is avoided? I'm keenly aware that selective application of standards of evidence in legal matters is a serious bias problem, but if you are suggesting it happens in some issue to people across the ideological spectrum on that issue I don't know what you're talking about.

Skepticism and comments about skepticism don't necessarily need a linear relationship. Making a pro skepticism comment is a reactionary move against people treating anonymous accusations as fact. If you see more people doing the latter when racial or gender discrimination issues are discussed then it makes sense that the former will follow.

The more serious/terrible the accusation, the more likely it seems to me that people will just take it on face value.

Reactionary contrarian skepticism is kinda the MO of hacker news comments.

These women are victims of harassment and abuse. It seems very unfair to expect them to also put their personal reputation on the line before we finally take them seriously. That's a very high bar to clear and it's the reason why so few women speak out publicly. That's why we must encourage, not discourage, anonymous disclosures, and give them the benefit of the doubt.

I have a strong allegiance to the American justice principles of innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt, right to face one's accuser in open court, cross examination, and standards of evidence. So much so that I apply it to judging controversial current events like this. Much as I might dislike putting a powerful entity like Uber into the defendant's chair with those attendant protections, These principles and others have served me extremely well in suspending belief and not being led astray by sensationa news and consequently looking hotheaded and foolish when time bears out the details of the story.

You may feel otherwise, and I cannot and will not attempt to persuade you otherwise. But as I said before, I believe Ms. Fowler at this point, and take issue with Amy's claim on falsifiability grounds. "We" are under no obligation to take any particular person seriously. There are strong labor laws against the transgressions claimed, and if there are problems with enforcement or efficiency, I am all for examining our procedures, but I won't sacrifice the bedrock of fair and individualized consideration of the particular case within the storm of the prevailing dysfunction.

I understand where you're coming from; I don't think you've made enough of an effort to understand where your parent is coming from, your focus is entirely on how wrong you feel your parent is.

Of course the criminal justice system must abide by the principles of due process. Simultaneously, if someone anonymously expresses great suffering, we are of course under an ethical obligation to take them seriously, offer them our compassion, and take action based on what we can substantiate.

I reread the parent, because your point is a well-taken that I might have brushed it aside too quickly. I can specify upholding my skepticism on the grounds that only Uber employees in some certain proximity to "Amy" could deduce whether she's a real person. If not Amy herself, but 2 or 3 of them who could vouch will come forward out of anonymity and say something along the lines of "yes, 'Amy' is a real person. Her story is real. Uber management treated her terribly and HR ignored her claims", then I'll be a lot more willing to consider this credible. I disagree that anonymous, unverifiable grievances impose on otherwise ethical and rational people a positive obligation of specific personal demand for belief or compassion. But I can only speak for myself.

>>I disagree that anonymous, unverifiable grievances impose on otherwise ethical and rational people a positive obligation of specific personal demand for belief or compassion.

Amy's specific experiences may or may not be verifiable. I believe you are missing the point though. This isn't about Amy herself. If it were, she would have come out publicly, like Susan has. I suspect the reason Amy posted her story anonymously is because it is about the treatment women in general receive at Uber. That's what makes her story credible: we have heard from multiple sources so far that the atmosphere at Uber is extremely hostile to women.

Here's an example why anonymity is important: law enforcement agencies receive anonymous tips all the time. One way they decide whether to follow up on a tip is by looking at surrounding factors. For instance, if multiple anonymous tips within a short period of time suggest that Bob may be involved in child trafficking, that is in most cases sufficient to earn Bob a police raid.

Same thing with Amy's story. By itself, it is full of extraordinary claims. In light of everything we have learned about Uber's company culture though, the claims are both ordinary and credible.

Is there a chance that it was written by a rival company's astroturfers? Sure. Just like how Bob may actually have been a target of swatting[1]. But law enforcement agencies still have an obligation to investigate the anonymous tips against Bob, just like we as the public have an obligation to offer belief or compassion to stories like Amy's.


Wouldn't a false story that could be disproven only serve to cast doubt on Fowler's claim rather then support it? I just don't see anyone with any brains trying to create a false narrative to smear Uber.

There's many explanations why you would post a "false story" despite being "reasonable":

- "Amy" might not think she's lying at all, but a combination of misunderstandings and POV-blindness can quickly turn an "awful" story around to a banal situation

- "Amy" isn't necessarily looking to "reinforce the narrative" - it is certainly possible that they just want empathy or attention(which is practically guaranteed, see this thread). You could parallel this with the hoax hate crimes that were reported once Trump was in office - they would all hurt the otherwise legitimate point that bigotry is on the rise, yet the people still did it, quite often claiming that they were going through a rough patch and wanted some sympathy and attention.

- Even if "Amy" was lying, they may be relying on the impossibility of Uber to defend themselves. If they aggressively pursue the claims, they will receive a ton of backlash for harassing an alleged survivor.

> I just don't see anyone with any brains trying to create a false narrative to smear Uber.

The case doesn't have to be a "false narrative" - boosting a shitty situation beyond its actual levels is certainly a bonus to any Uber competitor, or anyone who dislikes Uber. It may absolutely be the case that Uber has a systemic problem; or alternatively, they have had an unfortunate clump of scandals, boosted by their unpopular business practices making it easy to believe that Uber really are monsters. At that point, it's easy to pile on any accusation, people will believe it, and it hurts Uber.

I appreciate your thoughtful response.

I was careful not speak to "belief", which is unfortunately ambiguous; one could interpret "belief" of this testimonial as supporting millions in damages being awarded to the author right now on the basis of nothing else, which I hopefully have been clear about not supporting.

It surprises me that you have no compassion for an anonymous grievance, though, especially one that is (at least currently) asking for nothing else. Speaking for myself, at least, even (or especially) though there are usually two sides to every story, I pride myself on usually being able to have compassion for both sides.

I can distill it this way:

Compassion for the suffering of the unknown is one thing. To make damaging public accusations behind the veil of the unknown is something else entirely.

These are not mutually exclusive.

We can extend our hearts and offer our support to the anonymous authors of these stories, seriously investigate the questions they raise, and prosecute to our fullest abilities all wrongdoings substantiated by credible reports (e.g. Susan Fowler's blogpost), while simultaneously being careful to restrict any punishment meted out to be only based on credible evidence.

"Believe victims" means offer support instead of minimizing ("I'm sure he didn't mean it") or making counteraccusations ("what were you wearing?"). It doesn't mean "automatically, immediately punish anyone accused of anything without due process".

To give anonymous accusations of harassment and abuse the benefit of the doubt is to believe that someone is an abuser without evidence to. Given the effect that this can have on a persons life I don't believe it should be encouraged at all. It's guilty until proven innocent.

It's really not "guilty until proven innocent". Nobody has gone to prison, much less been charged with a criminal offense. The article doesn't name anyone in particular, so even if harassment accusations ruined mens' careers (which is a comically untrue assertion in the first place), that argument holds no water. Sexism is real, harassment is real, and demanding some arbitrarily high standard of evidence before you believe it is at best obtuse and at worst deliberately complicit.

I know comments on this type of articles get extremely heated, but with no intention to favor any side, I will say this: What if she provided that "awful lot of information about herself" with the intent of deceiving the audience and creating the illusion that she's this person, when in fact she's somebody else?

Maybe she aggregated attributes from multiple women at Uber and created this new person which cannot be specifically indentified. I see this as a valid strategy to conceal one's identity.

I think they've lost the benefit of the doubt after responding in an unconvincing way to Susan Fowler's allegations and the critical open letter from one of their VCs, to name just two recent examples.

People deserve the benefit of the doubt and courts are very strict on this. Companies that let such an issue fester for such a long time without convincing remediatory action probably don't deserve it in the court of public opinion.

Or that was all made up? Who is in a position to know every employee at Uber, so they can verify that this person actually existed, AND that they actually wrote it?

> Who is in a position to know . . .

Nobody is. She could be lying. She could even be providing the demographic information of a coworker who had none of these experiences. She might be a space alien for all we know.

So you just have to weigh the evidence and get comfortable with uncertainty. Is there someone who would make all this stuff up? Sure. No doubt there's someone out there who likes internet adulation enough to cook up a story. Is this an instance of that happening? Not very likely, I think, since it corroborates what we're hearing from a lot of other people about Uber's culture, and Ms. Fowler's story. I judge that there is a high likelihood this story is true or mostly true.

That's all you can do really. You're never going to get first-hand, attributed corroboration in a case like this. This is because anyone in a position to do that would be outing the anonymous whistle-blower by corroborating, especially if more than two people did. If they care about the victim, they will respect her choice to remain anonymous. So demanding more before assigning credibility is tantamount to deciding to always disbelieve anonymous accounts. That is an option available to you, but I don't think that option is the most useful for developing true beliefs about the world around me, so I don't choose it.

Fowler's post established that this was happening to many women in the company. If we accept that Fowler is a credible witness, which I think is a fair assessment, we already know that this is a systemic problem. It's safe to assume then that if more women come forward, they are more likely to be telling the truth than not.

Additionally, it's in Lyft's or other detractors best interests not to fake additional claims. This is a scandal that will grow on its own, as/if more women come forward. If Lyft et al is caught faking claims, they discredit all the claims and make themselves the bad guys instead of Uber. All Lyft has to do is sit back and watch Uber dig themselves deeper into the hole they're in.

As other posters have also touched on, there is a history of men (and women) doubting and minimizing abuse claims made by women. This is not a good mindset to take as it minimizes the women's experience in favor of a corporation or individual who is already in a more powerful position than the accuser. By minimizing one accuser, we make it harder for women as a whole to speak up against abuse, which is not acceptable.

Let's assume I am an internet troll. What stops me from anonymously signing up for Medium and publishing a similar story, now that there are two out there that corroborate?

You would be a pretty lousy troll in that case.

By what measure? If getting a group of people to be upset, and riled up, or otherwise add fuel to a fire, is the aim of a troll, then this would have been a very successful one.

How many thousands of votes on Hacker News are required to graduate out of lousy trolling?

I'd argue Fowler's claims are similarly unchallenged.

True, but her claims haven't been denied by anyone. And a lot of her claims should have a paper trail. Either she was propositioned by her manager over corp chat, or she wasn't. Either she emailed HR these screenshots, or she didn't. Either she informed HR about the leather jacket incident, or it didn't happen.

These claims can be easily disproven by Uber if they were false, and the fact that Uber hasn't denied them says a lot.

This is Susan Fowler, who's very well known in the community. ~zero chance it's fake.

Is Uber a company with a horrible culture? Pretty much. Are the details of these reports 100% accurate? Hard to tell. When talking about the subject, I'd recommend to think about the big picture and not the details (ehy, have you heard at Uber people call colleagues "dirty whore" during meetings?)

To be frank? Uber gets the benefit of the doubt when they demonstrate that they've earned it. Every bit of smoke I have seen, both online and in my social circles, has had fire behind it. Every one, without exception.

So I'm going to believe this until I have a compelling reason not to, and "but it could be fake" isn't one.

I come from the country that gave birth to Cesare Beccaria and I won't stop believing that everyone is innocent until proven otherwise. Besides this is exactly smoke, blocking us from seeing the majestic damages Uber is doing to labour ad mobility all over the world. there will always be a woman who'll accept to work for them if the pay is good enough, the ones harassed will be maybe compensated one day with a few million dollars, but the elephant Uber will still be in the room. No matter what, they are still growing, and doing it fast. That's what really scares me, and all the engineers who did a great job of building their infrastructure are, IMHO, somewhat responsible for giving them the power to abuse it. I'm sure they all thought "let's give'em time and see what happens". This happens! every f*ing time. will we learn someday? will we stop to go west looking for the gold? I'm not sure we'll ever understand.

Just because every time you personally saw fire behind smoke doesn't mean that in the future this will hold.

This is true! And when Uber demonstrates that they deserve the benefit of the doubt, I will give it to them. Because I'm not a court; I'm a person.

Although I agree, my training informs me that there is quite a history of doubting reports made by women. From rape to domestic violence.

As a bystander I don't even want to say out loud what you did, even though it crossed my mind.

Women have historically been ignored when reporting.

Everyone believes the story because it sounds plausible. It's not the first time we've heard of very bad culture at Uber, and it fits the ways they have been reported to treat their drivers, etc.

Most of the women who left Uber didn't publicly announce why they did. Now we're seeing a plausible explanation.

As much as I oppose to Uber philosophy, technology.and their work and HR policies (I even think it's dangerous for the future of mobility), I still think plausible is not enough for news to be news. It's merely enough for bar stories. I respect so much journalism that I don't want enough, I want facts, names, proofs and the smocking gun.

Do you also believe Hacker News comments should be held to the standards of journalism, and people on Hacker News shouldn't even discuss something unless there are facts, names, proofs, and the smoking gun?

No, reputable news sources shouldn't (and don't) publish claims like these without substantiation. But I don't see a problem with HN commenters discussing claims like these even though this is all we have to go on. And I don't see how that's an argument against its fundamental plausibility, which is what your parent comment discusses.

At a company as large as Uber could someone working on database scalability be involved in calls about whether or not payment should be withheld from drivers before a ride ends? Would her manager be the decision maker for that?

That detail seems suspect to me. There are also essentially no details about the work that convey inside knowledge about the ideosyncracies of Uber specifically at a work place. It is also weird to me that she chose to be anonymous but included her height and a bunch of specific incidental details - it reminds me of how liars frequently add an excessive amount of detail to add credibility to their stories.

Personally it sounds true to me. but I'd like to see more scrutiny from someone with perspective on this.

The way I see it is that the team was working on the payment system. She may well have specialized on some scaling aspects but that does not preclude her working within a team having responsibility for building or maintaining the payment system. Considering that Uber has a micro services architecture the teams will be organized vertically along end-to-end functionality and not along the architectural layers. In that way the story is consistent with what is publicly known about Uber IT.

I just returned to India after working in the US for one year. I find it extremely difficult to believe such a culture can exist in the country let alone an organization. People there were friendly, extremely polite and well mannered. I never once faced any incidents or racism or hatred in my work place and out. I can't imagine things like this even in my wildest dreams.

-Chauvinistic, racist and homophobic attitudes were far too normal

-It was normal for guys to openly refer to attractive female colleagues as sluts

-They had private chats where guys wrote sexual fantasy stories about female colleagues and supervisors where they performed all sorts of demeaning acts on the women

Also the fact that she talks about driver compensation makes it look like it was an article written just to smear Uber. I may be wrong though, but really, really hard to believe.

Edit: She refused to meet Freda Kapor (see comments in post) makes it all the more suspicious.

This 1000 times. It so easy to lie on the internet. It's even easier to get riled up and pick up pitchforks. The things this person wrote about were horrifying, yes, but an anonymous post on the internet should not be immediately accepted as cold hard facts.

I wouldn't be surprised if this was fake. It seemed to hit on too many talking points and buzzwords. It has a "too good to be true" feel to it.

I didn't see any buzzwords or liberal talking points in this article. Could you provide specifics ? This article feels exactly as it would be written by a scared and angry person. Not everyone is cool,(as in calm headed) brilliant and courageous as Fowler. Fowler had the smarts, strength and level headedness to keep proof and you get the strong feeling that she has kept more proof hidden and ready to use as ammunition . I suspect she would make a very good troop leader if she had ever joined the military - her writing gives the vibe of an very strong willed woman. But expecting most folks (whether women or men) to be like her and track all facts and evidence in a personal crisis situation is expecting too much of anybody.

It's not what the author left out (eg. proof, evidence) that makes me suspicious, it's what they put in.

To wit:

- in the 3rd paragraph, it includes the gender wage gap topic. Usually companies keep employee salaries hidden from each other, so the way its included here feels more like box-ticking of a feminist talking point

- also in the 3rd paragraph, it establishes the character as somebody who is not overly "privileged", which is important for liberals (privilege undermines your platform of victimhood; if you're writing something like this, the less privilege the better)

- the 4th paragraph introduces the ideals of respecting human beings regardless of their gender, sexuality of religion. It's like the writer is going for a broad thematic sweep.

- also in the 4th paragraph, it refers to the concept of "triggering", another SJW trope that other people would probably cringe at using

- this sort of thing just sounds like it was written by Lena Dunham: "Uber finally broke me by destroying my dignity as a human being, and reduced my aspirations by attaching their worth them to a female reproductive organ. Like they did to Susan, Uber killed a part of me that was most precious."

- this bit sounds very far fetched, like the author is trying to work in examples of misogyny that they've witnessed on the web: "They had private chats where guys wrote sexual fantasy stories about female colleagues and supervisors where they performed all sorts of demeaning acts on the women."

- the author seems to have a hang-up about high-heels, another feminist issue, and even works it into dialogue: after casually asking me if I was married or in a relationship, he told me that he liked women in heels. “You know what heels do don’t you?”

- weaving in another grand feminist theme: "I would wonder why I went to grad school instead of wearing heels and marrying a rich guy so I would never have to work."

- as others have noted, the personal detail that is included doesn't seem like it's written by someone really concerned about preserving their anonymity. And at the same time, the rest of the article seems strangely impersonal, running through generic feminist tropes

I am not saying the basic details are entirely implausible, but the way it's written leads me to strongly suspect it's fake.


Do you work at Uber?

Are there publicly known instances of something like this being "too good to be true", or is your feeling based only on private experience?

I have had no private experience with something like this being "too good to be true", and multiple instances of it being all too true. And there is obviously a publicly known instance of something like this that appears quite credible (the Susan Fowler blogpost). So you understand why I'd feel the opposite way---that in spite of the lack of substantiation, this feels all too true.

Here is one example


I could tell it was fake because it hit on so many tropes of the left.

Here's a more directly comparable example (incredibly long winded expose... skimming recommended)


It's not about the events, it's about how they are framed and told by the anonymous author.

I'm confused. Are you saying that Guardian article is a hoax? In what way is that a publicly known fact? I did not see any retraction or correction on the link provided.

The Contraspin article is pretty fascinating and from skimming it, makes a decent case worth taking seriously, but one good case isn't a consensus; in fact, it appears to run directly contrary to the consensus. (It also has plenty of weak spots; for example, someone who's been Executive Director of the EFF for 15 years has a lot of credibility in my eyes.) By contrast, Sarah Fowler's article has been corroborated by reputable sources like the New York Times [1], who've found additional horror stories along similar lines. (To be clear, I'm operating under the assumption we're in agreement that all indications are that Sarah Fowler's story is fundamentally accurate.)

Do you have any examples where it's a thorough consensus that an anonymous testimonial was made up to hurt someone, the way, for example, there's a thorough consensus that the Rolling Stone UVA article was pretty much made up?

[1]: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/22/technology/uber-workplace...

Someone called Godfrey Elfwick claimed to have written the Guardian article as a spoof, although on closer investigation it seems there's no solid proof. That said, it reads like perfect satire, I can't believe it's genuine.

I recall a few similar instances over the years but I can't find links to all of them. Not sure if I can find an exact fit for an anonymous story made up to smear someone. The accusations of child-rape against Trump just before the election spring to mind:


More generally on fake accounts, there was the fake Syrian lesbian blogger:


There was the fake deaf cerebral palsy blogger:


There was this "meeting a troll" story from years ago which I always suspected was fake - looked it up just now, and while there's no hard evidence that it is fake, the writer (who made no claims to using a pseudonym), has since vanished from the face of the web, and it seems no journalists ever fact checked the story:


My google search turned up this article from Breitbart which is actually pretty good, a rundown of fake stories that became national news over the years:


Their comment on the infamous Stephen Glass I think gets to the heart of how fake articles get written:

Some speculated Glass fooled so many editors because he had “wonder boy” star power and great personal charisma. Others thought it was because he understood and flattered the biases and expectations of the publications he worked for – he sold them stories they wanted to publish, surfing the early wave of “narrative” obsession that has completely consumed mainstream journalism over the past two decades. Glass invented people, organizations, and events that lived down to his publishers’ darkest expectations of every social group and profession except their own.

> These types of posts are worrying to me. Why could this post not have been crafted by someone at Lyft? Or one of Uber's many other detractors? Given the PR nightmare that Uber is in why not pile on while the public seems primed for that type of information and stretch out the negative news cycle?

This is a good point, but I thought what historically happens is that there are women who are too afraid to speak up? That's why I personally believe the story.. hopefully more people will speak up and so it won't matter that one of them isn't real.

Definitely agree caution is a good stance to take -- as much as we need to be supportive of victims we also need to be smart about doing our research. With that said, given Uber's recent history (Fowler) and without any action from Uber's higher-ups that indicates they actually give a shit (frankly a twitter apology from Kalanick and a half-assed 'investigation' isn't enough at this point), I'm far more inclined to err on the side of supporting the alleged victim than the alleged perpetrator in this case.

I would worry less about this credibility issue. Uber management, Mike#2, HR and likely every Uber employee will know if these claims are true, and if so, who they refer to. Our opinion and our degree of outrage matters not at all.

If history shows anything, and despite what we may like to think, public outrage has very little impact on corporate reality. The key to enacting change at Uber is the company management and HR. Rest assured the people that matter will know if this story is true.

From these comments, I can't tell if Uber is a scrappy startup where everybody knows everybody, or it's a huge global corporation where nobody knows what's going on elsewhere.

If this was a science post that had no evidence, everyone here would be shooting it down. Something about a tawdry narrative though seems to instantly be believed.

My first thought was that someone has launched an all out PR attack against Uber. There are hundreds of comments here going after Uber. This was an anonymous post and could be totally fake.

It would be stupid for Lyft to do this, because if they get busted, it'd be a PR nightmare and counter-productive, because Uber can change the narrative and call Lyft the lying bad guys.

But it's also possible that it's someone who likes Lyft or/and hates Uber.

> Why could this post not have been crafted by someone at Lyft?

After all the shady campaigns Uber has used against their competitors, even if this were true, I'd be fine with it.

Because only a disgusting company like Uber would pull such a thing off and since Uber wouldn't criticise Uber we can safely assume this is probably legit.

Do you know the difference between punching up vs punching down?

I consider the HN community to be one of the most thoughtful I've found on the web, yet am stunned by how quickly a righteous mob is formed based on an anonymous, cartoonish, and IMO barely plausible account of what it's like to work for a large US tech company.

Having spent years working at multiple SV tech companies, where even the slightest tinge of a racist or sexist affront would land you in an office in front of HR and a company lawyer, I find this account to be very difficult to believe. Slanty eye joe? Please.

We don't know if this is a (poorly written) attempt to sink Uber (which I don't happen to care for) by someone with a short position and an evening to spare, or if it has been penned by an employee with a grudge.

Please have some credulity before parading your #deleteuber hashtags and morally superior posturing so the world can marvel at how virtuous you are. There has never been a more evil force in the world than an outraged, self-righteous mob inflamed by twisted anecdotes.

And yes, I've resorted to creating a throwaway account, fully expecting the flagging and down-voting groupthink brigade to be in force. If there's a shameful story here, it's more likely this disturbing human phenomenon, not an anonymous blog post, the veracity of which we know nothing about.

I think the idea of "victim-blaming" has morphed into its own beast. We're so scared of doing it that asking for evidence or asking critical questions is now in a weird way associated with victim blaming. Everyone in this thread who's said what you said has ipso facto gotten downvoted.

I find myself suspicious of this new culture of "standing together in solidarity," "letting vulnerable people tell their narratives," "being supportive," etc. These all sound like perfectly upstanding things to do, but nowadays they dominate discourse. Facts, reason, and inquiry are now considered oppressive.

I've met some people who have asked, why is this a problem? Who cares if a couple people make things up, when there are so many people hurting out there? Well, people who make things up make real stories less believable. And it incentivizes victimhood, which nowadays carries with it the reward of not having to engage in debate, because anyone who voices doubt is considered a monster. Someone earlier got flagged for saying what you said. Not just downvoted so his post would be light gray, but flagged so his post would disappear.

And really, at the end of the day, what can trigger-happy moral outrage accomplish that a quiet sense of justice backed by reason, fairness, and determination can't?

>I think the idea of "victim-blaming" has morphed into its own beast. We're so scared of doing it that asking for evidence or asking critical questions is now in a weird way associated with victim blaming.

This is a critical point. Is there a way to express doubt, sans body language, that can further a discussion without evoking responses such as this? [https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13748089]

Anonymity of poster doesn't render the poster's experience unworthy of thought. If it did, I would be ignoring this comment from a throwaway account.

Cartoonish and poorly written are subjective judgements.

These experiences might seem implausible to you because they might never be happening when you're looking. In light of other, non-anonymous and fact-checked accounts of Susan's experience, I wouldn't think it is implausible.

All-in-all, while I agree in principle that one should apply fair judgement before believing someone's anonymous story, I do not think it warrants incredulity, especially and ironically from an anon account. If you believe that Amy should not have posted anonymously, I find it laughable that you use an anonymous account fearing flagging and down-voting in a low stakes environment fearing the "groupthink brigade".

Are we just trading anecdotes now? A medium size SV unicorn I worked at had at least two similar incidents shared with me by female employees whom I highly trust. Just because you personally haven't witnessed this kind of behavior first-hand doesn't mean it never happens. I think you've gone too far in denouncing this story instead of at least considering that it might merit a debate.

I'm a woman in tech, and situations like this never seemed real to me until similar things like this happened to my female friends (and, to a lesser degree, to me).

I'm downvoting this not because of the point it makes but because of the nature of the language. I think even though it's your legal right to express us-vs-them mentality "down-voting groupthink brigade", ad-hominem attacks "morally superior posturing", "outraged, self-righteous mob" I don't think it's a valuable contribution to this discussion.

This type of language is intentionally attempts to provoke emotion, which in turn reduces the ability for the community to collectively find truth. It sounds like perhaps you've had some anecdotal experiences where you feel like you're the victim of Pc-police, but if you want to convince anyone I recommend you share the data-points of your experience rather than play to emotions.

Yes, people say racists and sexist and mean things at work. Just because you haven't personally seen it doesn't mean it doesn't happen. I've seen it, personally.

Maybe it's a lie. Maybe it's not. Either way, it's definitely plausible though and that's not good.

the whole point is that Uber is _not at all_ like a typical US tech company. it seems to be much much much worse, and that is what is shocking to discover.


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