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Uber Fires More Than 20 Employees in Harassment Probe (bloomberg.com)
394 points by umeshunni on June 6, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 265 comments



The article doesn't discuss the seniority of the fired employees. It's very hard to distinguish between scapegoating and actually working to fix the problem without that information.

The problem with Uber isn't that some employees engage in sexual harassment. The problem is that there's a culture where sexual harassment isn't taken seriously, is tolerated if the perpetrators are "high performing" in other respects, and there's common knowledge that being "high performing" covers all sorts of other ills. No amount of firing of the low-level scum that grows in this environment will fix this issue.


The real question is: did senior people in HR have to walk? If they did, you can feel reasonably confident their replacements won't repeat their behaviours. I'll remind everyone that we're talking about an HR department that repeatedly lied to its employees and did their damndest to shield bad people. If that isn't fixed, you can be guaranteed it'll happen again, whether or not another Fowler decides to do the world a solid and go public.


You bring an important point which raises another point- who enabled/let HR do this? And what happened to them? HR doesn't exist in isolation and I've known big firms' HRs to be trigger happy as long as they can justify it.


Right. This is the core problem. Most people who wind up in HR are rule-followers who are acutely aware of the legal risks associated with harassment culture.


As many have pointed out: we already know the answer to that question. However, bringing down a founder if the paper trail doesn't lead back to them directly is extremely hard (and I'm only adding that qualification because of GitHub) so he's untouchable. And the culture undoubtedly reflects his desires. However, if senior people in HR know that _doing what the CEO wanted won't save them from being fired for cause_, it'll concentrate minds quite effectively.


"who enabled/let HR do this?"

Typically, CEO or COO.


Fish rots from the head.


So, what I'm saying is, why not cut the head off?

Cut the head off of the human race?

It's not a... perfect metaphor.


No arguments here


>> who enabled HR

please tell me this is a joke right? you can't possibly be asking that question seriously..


HR is a business function, and the business is run by executives, so unless the HR function is run day to day by the CEO then HR needs to be enabled by someone. The HR function in a company the size of Uber is a deliberate structure that is guided by business goals set by the executive team, the executive team gives the HR function the authority within the framework (policy, implicit and explicit direction) provided.

If the story is true that HR dissembled and protected staff who were blatantly breaking the law then it is very reasonable to ask "who enabled HR?"

[EDIT] minor grammar fix


I think the parent was saying that there's no point in really asking this question because the answer is that it obviously came from senior leadership, clearly including but probably not exclusively limited to the CEO.

This isn't the sort of stuff that I could single handedly prove in a court of law, but frankly none of this comes as much of a surprise. Anyone who's come within shouting distance of that company knows how it operates : heavy on kool-aid & low on self-restraint - an MO that comes straight from the very top.


I wasn't the one asked, but I seriously want to know.

Not sure what you mean with your question. Do you think it's obvious what the answer is, or do you mean it's not a question that should be asked?


I read it (correctly or not) as saying: "Travis started and runs the company, and his respect for women is well known and public. Of _course_ the people working in HR know this, and were quite likely selected/employed by him or one of his trusted douche-bros..."

Is it _not_ as obvious to everyone else as it seems to be to me?


It is beside the point whether it's obvious or not; clearly it is not obvious enough. You treat it as if it's some purely academic pursuit, not of interest to anybody. No, the question should be repeated incessantly until the right people go to jail.


Go to jail? I think that is a little bit harsh considering the crimes committed. When will America stop being so damn protestant when it comes to punishment?


> clearly it is not obvious enough

It is very obvious though, if your basic working principle is that your fellow comments aren't sexist monsters.

It's a good principle to work off.


I read that question as implying: "it is HR's job to ensure the company does not get successfully sued over personnel-related matters; since company metrics apparently indicated the harassers were businesswise quite valuable, why did you expect HR to accomplish their objective by ousting the (valuable) harassers instead of running interference for the harassers?"


> The article doesn't discuss the seniority of the fired employees. It's very hard to distinguish between scapegoating and actually working to fix the problem without that information.

It's probably important to consider that even with those numbers, you wouldn't know whether it was scapegoating or not. All they would do would be to allow you to make assumptions, which is more about your preconceptions of what you think they should find than the facts.

> The problem with Uber isn't that some employees engage in sexual harassment. The problem is that there's a culture where sexual harassment isn't taken seriously, is tolerated if the perpetrators are "high performing"...

See, this may be true, but we don't know this. The point of an investigation is to find this out. Since the investigation in question here is internal, and I'd hazard that most of us don't necessarily harbor any hope that an entirely truthful response will come out of it (I for one wouldn't really expect that from a company I thought was more responsible than Uber), but that doesn't mean we should act like probabilities (and probabilities that are rooted in human behavior that is understood to any statistical degree by almost anyone in my opinion), we should be careful about the certainty we represent those outcomes.

In other words, it's all a big swirling mess of hearsay at this point. The problem could be fairly localized but widely publicized, or much more widespread as you state. We don't really know.


Sooner or later you've gotta decide who to believe. The person with nothing to gain by reporting it, or the company with everything to gain by denying it.

Besides, it isn't hearsay, the allegations have been made by some of the victims. Hearsay is something else.


I didn't say it was hearsay. I didn't say I didn't believe the people reporting the problems. I'm just noting that there's a lot of room between "some employees were harassing others, largely unknown to most management" and "there's a pervasive culture of harassment that goes all the way to the top, and includes much of management".

And I can fully believe everyone reporting problems believes they are right while withholding judgment as to whether their interpretation of their situations, which were generally highly emotional and formed during extreme stress, is entirely consistent with reality once the other side has a chance to state their case. We should always get both sides. Humans aren't very good at representing stressful situations with other humans objectively.


It's hard to maintain credibility when you say things like "I didn't say it was hearsay" when your words are just above and say "it's all a big swirling mess of hearsay at this point"


Fair enough, that's a deserved criticism. I thought I had used slightly different wording, and didn't confirm before responding.

What I was attempting to communicate is that there are a few first hand accounts, and numerous news articles and blogs expounding on what those mean. I didn't mean to imply that those that had those experiences were not referring to their own experiences, or that they were being untruthful, but I understand how either of those might have been interpretations of my words. I'll leave them as they are because I don't believe in whitewashing, and let this stand as the correction.

While I think it's important to get both sides of the story, I don't view both sides with the same level of trust. I think those with the accusations are far more likely to have accounts closer to reality in this case, but closer to reality doesn't mean they are accurate representations of the situation when taken by themselves. Confirmation bias is real, and doesn't have to have such an extreme effect as to change someone's opinion to still have a large effect on how people perceive the situation.


Not really. I can continue living completely agnostic of this drama, it's none of my concern, a belief either way pays no rent. If I wanted to work there, then I'd have to decide, but as a casual user there's no need. Downvoters: do you drink coke products?


It's an internal investigation. The point is to protect the company from lawsuits, bad PR, and future incidents. It'll only be effective at figuring out how to prevent future incidents if leadership values that aspect. From what I can tell, Uber's leadership has a particularly intense and narrow-minded emphasis on Uber's business performance.

I'm not holding out much hope of getting clarity from the investigation.


There are two "parts" of the investigation. More coming at a later date in the near future WRT high level leadership. Other publications like axios state that Emil (BD) and Thuan (CTO) will likely be shown the door.


Says the article: "The company didn’t name the employees who were let go. Some of the people fired were senior executives, according to the person."

Note that firing senior employees also doesn't imply that scapegoating isn't going on. If senior HR executives were perfectly in tune with the will of their bosses and then fell on their swords, there's no reason to suspect that the next crop of HR executives will not get the same cultural messages.

These sort of scandals persist because that 'proving' and then cementing the perception that the problem is solved to outsiders is very difficult.


Um, it's not scapegoating if these people are harassing other employees. Scapegoating is when you hire underlings for projects that senior management was driving. No one forces you to harass another employee.


By "scapegoating", the parent post was proposing that they are poofing up the numbers for a nice press release about their anti-harassment activities by firing underlings, and simultaneously minimizing the probe's negative effect on management. Good press and good for shareholders. Not good for the common good.


Err, what? Scapegoating is blaming and punishing someone in order to falsely claiming that the problem is fixed. Yes, the harassers should be fired for harassing. It doesn't fix the problem of management taking the side of harassers over the harassed.


You're both kinda correct... your original comment was just poorly phrased.

The word "scapegoat" is commonly used to describe someone who gets blamed for something unfairly. Assuming these fired employees were harassing colleagues, then it wasn't "unfair" to fire them.

But you seem to be using it in a manner similar to "fall guy". Where a lower-level wrongdoer ends up shielding higher-level wrongdoers from blame.


Yeah, that's definitely what I'm pointing at. Low-level wrongdoers getting scapegoated for higher-level misdeeds. There's two problems, really - sexual harassment, and a culture that tolerated it. The question is which issue Uber is firing people for, and which problem Uber is getting credit for fixing. I don't think Uber should get credit for fixing the second problem by firing the people contributing to the first problem.


Scapegoating isn't the right word, but ThrustVectoring is right. In 12k employees there will be some dicks who sexually harass. You fire them.

The problem at Uber isn't some line level eng or line level management sexually harassed someone; it's that HR and the VP Eng and the CEO all tolerated it. So unless someone whose name goes in SEC filings gets fired, they aren't taking this seriously.


To be perfectly clear, both of those things are problems. But one is a much bigger problem than he other.


I think people are making the point that if the hierarchy covered the harassment up as suggested by the story so far, they shouldn't get off the hook if they allowed that environment to continue and didn't take appropriate measures as soon as they were notified. At least that's how I understand things.


Wouldn't scapegoats file wrongful termination suits? Seems like a hell of a risk for illegitimate firings.


I think the point OP is making is that you can fire 20 developers who are guilty of sexual harassment in some form but that even though they are guilty of that there should be people above them who essentially permitted their behavior and let it go unchecked who should also be fired. If you believe, like OP does, that the problem at Uber isn't individual cases of sexual harassment but an institutional passivity towards it then someone higher up really needs to be held accountable as well.


The suggestion is not that those who were fired did nothing wrong. It's that they are being made to take the fall to shield higher-ups who also have done things wrong.


The suggestion is actually, just that. That is the literal meaning of "scapegoat" in English: one who is wrongfully taking the blame for another.

The other responder, dopamean, answered the question considering that context.


Yeah, that was my fault for making it unclear.

They're guilty of sexual harassment, but scapegoats for the culture that gave them free reign for so long.


>The problem is that there's a culture where sexual harassment isn't taken seriously

Is there? I've seen people claim this but I haven't seen any evidence for it. I know Susan Fowler's account is used frequently as basis for that statement and though I don't doubt her sincerity and truthfulness, you can't just extrapolate her experience to the entire (global) company.


I mean... a quick google search will get you there.

[0] Travis calls Uber "Boob-er" because it helps him (and other execs) pick up women

[1] Sexual Harassment + Heavy drug use at the global all-hands

[2] Company group, including CEO, visits escort bar in Seoul

[3] More "survivor" stories

-------------------------------------------------

[0] http://www.gq.com/story/uber-cab-confessions?currentPage=1

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

[2] http://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/27/uber-employees-visit-karaoke-...

[3] https://medium.com/@amyvertino/my-name-is-not-amy-i-am-an-ub...


> Is there? I've seen people claim this but I haven't seen any evidence for it.

As another point of evidence, they just fired 20 people for sexual harassment to address 215 separate claims before the separate outside report into the amount of sexual harassment in their company. Maybe they don't deserve your skepticism.


It wasn't just for sexual harrassment. It was for an conduct that they deemed inappropriate, like bullying, harrassment, etc.


You stated: I haven't seen any evidence for it.

In the very next sentence you offer one such evidence, and then go on to discredit it with you can't just extrapolate.


The mental gymnastics of motivated reasoning is a wonder to behold.


>In the very next sentence you offer one such evidence, and then go on to discredit it with you can't just extrapolate.

Right. Because in the first case we're talking about a systemic problem applying to a global company of 12,000 possibly spanning all levels of management as well as its polices and mandates. In the second case we're talking about a person's singular experience - which I've never disputed. The former is a much stronger statement than the latter so you cannot use the latter to prove the former.


Were you really not aware of Uber's work culture issues?

Uber's problems with work culture and hostility to women has been an open secret for years. I remember hearing rumors about it since 2014 at least.

None of the recent allegations are surprising to anybody at all who has been aware of what it is like to work there.


In a culture where sexual harassment is taken seriously, the firings happen one-at-a-time as things get reported. It doesn't fester until the media spotlight shines on the company's cultural problems, then result in an investigation as to why things got so bad.


>"Is there? I've seen people claim this but I haven't seen any evidence for it."

Can you explain why you feel that 20 people being fired as a result of a company-wide investigation into to sexual harassment doesn't constitute evidence of a problem?


Because it's 20 people out 12,000 and I (we) have no idea what it is they were fired for exactly. We don't know the context, the exact infraction, and how it was dealt with initially. I can't even tell if that rate is high, average or low when compared with any other company of similar size who would create a special sexual-harassment probe to investigate itself.


>"Because it's 20 people out 12,000"

What are you suggesting by this, that there is an acceptable margin for unacceptable behavior?

>We don't know the context, the exact infraction, and how it was dealt with initially."

We do know the context, the context was an investigation into sexual harassment conducted by an outside law firm.

We know that 31 people are in counseling/training and another 7 were given warning as a result of the investigation. So by comparison the incidents with these 20 were determined to be serious enough that they warranted termination instead of counseling or a warning.

>I can't even tell if that rate is high, average or low when compared with any other company of similar size who would create a special sexual-harassment probe to investigate itself."

I think the fact that 58 people (20 + 31 + 7) needing to be addressed retroactively instead of proactively at the time of the complaint is a pretty good indication there might be a large problem.


> 20 out of only 12,000 is a huge number


12000/20 = 0.001666

.17% is not a huge number.


I suspect that 12k is ubrs world wide FTE these firings are coming from the head office in CA so its actualy a higher %

And in IR 20 serious cases warenting firing Is a lot (I do have hears of dealing with serious cases) I would expect given 20 firings there will be a lot more who are allowed to leave with compromise agreements.


Feels somewhat symbolic at this point. The massively corrupt shop decides to fire a bunch of people who max out the acceptable level of corruption.

Even how they hired Holder feels like a PR tactic; a man who was against all the US torture techniques (http://fightthefuture.org/articles/the-rescue-of-eric-holder...) and yet prosecuted no one. He is the image of a career, PR frontman.

I'm still going to take Lyft over Uber in cities that have it, and that's only if I simply can't wait for the bus.


I disagree. This is the proper course of action when you have a harassment problem. Fire people.

It's fine if you want to take Lyft... I have been choosing Lyft from the beginning. But I applaud Uber for doing this investigation. I'm honestly baffled that people are criticizing them for it.

If there are people the investigation missed, that's a problem, but it's a separate issue and we have no evidence of it at this point, do we?


The problem is that the firing should have been done as the issues were discovered / brought to light. Waiting to fire perpetrators until after a critical mass of media scrutiny forces you to do so only reveals uber's true motives. Clearly they don't give a shit about actual sexual harrassment, they just want to preserve whatever perceived image they have to the rest of the world (not that an anti-competitive contract-slave-labor company ever had a great image to begin with).


> Clearly they don't give a shit about actual sexual harrassment, they just want to preserve whatever perceived image they have to the rest of the world

You may be right.

But I don't think policing peoples intentions is a good plan for us. It has all kinds of problems, the main one being intentions are generally pretty unknowable. The other one being intentions don't actually cause any harm, so by policing intentions you take away resources from policing harm.

I think a much better plan is to be very serious about what constitutes right action and wrong action for you, to reward right action and to punish wrong action.

Here's what I suspect the problem is for you: I'm going to guess (and this is just a guess, feel free to correct me) that you do a lot of harmful things, by virtue of your position in society, ecology, and the global economy, but that you've forgiven yourself for these things because you believe your intentions are good, and you're doing the best you can.

This is the dominant moral framework today, so I'm not judging you for it. But I have a different moral framework: I think you are responsible primarily for the harm you case, not your intentions. I would rather you be a harmless person with horrible intentions than a harmful person with good intentions.

But I think for you to transition to that worldview, you'd have to face up to your own ongoing unintentioned harm, which would be extremely painful. So there's a lot of pressure on you not to do that.

Apologies for all of the projection/presumption. I don't actually presume to know any of these things about you, I'm really talking about two versions of myself and just casually speculating about where you might fit into that dichotomy. Again, feel free to say "that ain't me".


There is no "policing" of intentions here -- just considering them. We should be careful of those who behave well, merely in response to punishment or in avoidance of it.

The relationship between intentions and actions is rarely so distant as in the example you give -- "I would rather you be a harmless person with horrible intentions than a harmful person with good intentions.". Indeed, I don't know how we would recognize the notion of intention -- thought preceding action -- if they had so little relationship to action.

The importance of intention is nowhere clearer than in the law, where to "knowingly and wittingly" body slam another person is handled quite differently from tripping and falling into them, or slamming into them to push them out of the way of a car and yet inadvertently pushing them into a wall.


I don't think people are literally criticizing Uber for doing this investigation; I think they're just skeptical that it represents a real change of heart on the part of upper management including Kalanick. Until there's been a substantial period of time over which the change in behavior has been clear and consistent, I think that skepticism is warranted.


The criticism is largely because there's no transparency into it. Yes, the proper course of action when you have a harassment problem is to fire people, but you also have to fire the right people. Firing those who commit the harassment is one part, but you also need to fire those who cover up and permit the harassment to happen. We also don't know how high up the people who were fired are. If they only fired a handful of junior engineers, that's not going to help.


People who have decided they dislike uber are unlikely to ever decide to like them again. Firing 20+ people who have sexually harassed other employees is objectively a good thing for a company to do.


EH has has a long working relationship with uber. The main work he has done previously was to help either craft policy and work in the courts to defend the ability for marginalized communities to work as ridesharing drivers, think people like non violent felons who are released from prison. A while ago a lot of state were passing "think of the children" type legislation that was having a negative impact on some of the communities that holder has spent his career trying to defend. For felons released from prison, ridesharing on uber/lyft is one of the first ways they can support themselves economically.


Firing 2 or 3 people might be symbolic. Firing >20 isn't.


Not that I really agree with parent but Uber has 12,000+ employees so 20 people is, what, 0.16% of their workforce at most? There are a lot of stories about Uber's culture and conduct so I honestly expected a lot more especially since culture issues usually run very deep and touch quite a lot of people.

But who knows, maybe it's the correct amount of people. But I can sorta understand it coming off as almost symbolic due to the low number.


To be serious enough for immediate firing its a hell of a lot - this is with my industrial relations hat on BTW.


Was it an immediate firing? Maybe I missed that part but I didn't see any details around the firings other than the fact that they were fired.

Though I'm sure it's a likely good assumption that it was immediate.


... out of 12000 tho'


It's only out of the 200 or so reports they had, I think a lot of people didn't bother because they didn't think it would be taken seriously. Once it's clear it might actually work more will come up


Yes, it seems very political that they chose EH. Most people see his name, and think "oh if they hired him, they must be trying to do the RIGHT thing".


It seems that there really isn't anything that would have you change your strongly held biases at this point.


I wonder if events like this turn Uber employees who leave around this time into a market of lemons. Obviously nobody will put on their resume that they were fired for sexual harassment so hiring managers will have to wonder if a person who left Uber recently was fed up or fired.

Seems risky to hire a recent Uber employee at this point because bringing a toxic sexist into the company can inflict massive damage.


>Seems risky to hire a recent Uber employee at this point because bringing a toxic sexist into the company can inflict massive damage.

Jesus. They are still people. You want to ostracize them from all society and prevent them from earning a living in their chosen career?

'Sexual harassment' is also a catch-all term that can encompass all kinds of actions. It could involve a clueless, inexperienced 20-something asking out his co-worker and misreading her signals - fuck that guy right? Throw him out of society and forget him forever, right?

And I have yet to see any evidence for this "toxic sexist" atmosphere that apparently is part of the Uber culture. This isn't it. 20 people were fired out of 12,000.


I have independently verified Susan Fowler's claim that her management chain didn't treat her case seriously. And by that I mean with a member of her management chain.

If an entire chain of management and HR don't treat a claim like that seriously (no one has disputed the claim), there is absolutely a cultural problem.


> I have independently verified Susan Fowler's claim that her management chain didn't treat her case seriously. And by that I mean with a member of her management chain.

Just to verify: are you an Uber employee, then?


Nope. I don't need to be to have a conversation. Of course, you could argue the person I was speaking with shouldn't have shared the information with me, but that's their concern.


We have no way of independently verifying your claim.


Welcome to the internet. You won't like it.


I wish there was some kind of 'best of HN' where this comment could live on forever.


> I have independently verified > Nope. I don't need to be to have a conversation

You can't publicly claim that you independently verified something and provide absolutely no information on that verification. You are not a Pope.

You started the conversation and chose to share that piece information.


He is free to share it, and you are free to disbelieve it, this isn't a court of law.


The thread seems to be dismissing it as it is an unsubstantiated claim.


>I have independently verified Susan Fowler's claim that her management chain didn't treat her case seriously. And by that I mean with a member of her management chain.

I never doubted her account. But it is anecdotal, and you can't extrapolate her singular experience to the entire company.


It is categorically NOT anecdotal. The proper word is "testimonial". You cannot simultaneously "never doubt her account" and label it "anecdotal", look it up in the dictionary.


Ok. Maybe I used the wrong word.


Many other women have come forward, including those IN Uber HR.

How many have to before it isn't a "singular experience"?


I have independently verified that Elvis is living on an island in the south Pacific with tupac and biggie.


As a manager, if you have a clueless 20-year old making an inappropriate proposition to one of your reports, and you hear about it, you are legally obligated to deal with the situation. It could mean reprimands, demotions, pay cuts, and re-assignment. It could mean termination.

Harassment happens in every single company.

The difference between companies is whether or not management takes the problem seriously.

I assure you, batch-firing 20 people for sexual harassment out of 6,700 is not normal. It means that there has been a consistent pattern of management not dealing with harassment - which was exposed upon review.


>As a manager, if you have a clueless 20-year old making an inappropriate proposition to one of your reports, and you hear about it, you are legally obligated to deal with the situation. It could mean reprimands, demotions, pay cuts, and re-assignment. It could mean termination.

Sure. I don't disagree with that, even the termination. But I hate the idea of now treating these individuals as modern equivalent of 'untouchables'. OP used incredibly ugly words to describe people he has no clue about, and implicitly advocated for not hiring them.

>I assure you, batch-firing 20 people for sexual harassment out of 6,700 is not normal.

12,000. It's a big company.

>t means that there has been a consistent pattern of management not dealing with harassment

Except we don't know what it means, do we. It could be that they fired a bunch of people to make a PR statement. Or not.


12k is quite small I have worked in big companies where we had more engineers in our single division that Google has employees.


> As a manager, if you have a clueless 20-year old making an inappropriate proposition to one of your reports...

This is the hypothetical example people often give; but that is probably the easiest imaginable case. Fowler's report is regarding a manager who'd been with the company for several years -- not twenty years old unless they started in their teens -- who was a hardened and repeat offender. That seems to be more inline with what actually happens.

Clueless people can be corrected. What we're talking about here is very different.


For what it's worth, "prevent them from earning a living in their chosen career" is not the same as "ostracize them from all society."

A person who has been cut from a grad school program for rampant academic honor code violations can be a perfectly-functional member of society, and if no school wants to trust them as a teacher, that's not the fault of the schools.

Personally, I don't have a high opinion of the tech culture though, and I suspect even the people fired for sexual harassment will be employed in another tech company within six months. The money flows too fast and too loose to expect otherwise, and the overall engineer-owner-capitalist-America ecosystem doesn't act as a sufficient deterrent to toxic sexual harassment culture to expect these employees will actually be cut out of the loop. It's a Hollywood environment.


Part of the problem is it is difficult to determine if someone has been fired for cause, or because they are a scape goat, or if they just weren't liked by management, or many other reasons


Are you referring to the new company when looking at a potential employee's past experience? Couldn't you just ask them why they were terminated? I don't think Uber is going to fire actual scapegoats that weren't related. That would surely leave them up to even more legal trouble.


Yup - I was generally responding to people in this thread who are arguing that it is appropriate to blacklist anyone with 'Uber' on their resume


> inexperienced 20-something

Well, if he learns and grows from the experience, maybe he'll end up better than the ones that didn't fuck up.

--Former stupid as fucking fuck 20 year old


That's my point exactly. Tech companies are full of dumb 20-somethings who will make dumb 20-something mistakes. This may result in them getting reprimanded or terminated which will serve as a learning experience. But OP went further. She/He characterized them as "toxic" and potentially inflicting massive damage on the new company's culture with the implications that no company should hire them. Disgusting.


Reality check: overwhelming majority of 20 years old dudes don't harass women. They are not as dumb as you imply and they know what harassment is.

If you would be right, then radical feminists are right in that college students need special classes to tell them what is rape, what is harassment and what is proposal. Majority of non radical people opposed that on the grounds that it is insulting and dudes know.

If at the age of 20 you are so confused, then you are add toxic as dude who does not know difference between boxing match and pub fight. And as rare.


I neither accept your 'reality check' nor the ridiculous binary choice your presented where everyone just knows how to act or radical feminists need to run university workshops (completely ridiculous).

Social interactions and social boundaries are largely a learned behaviour - it is not something that is innate in us. Because there is a huge emotional component when dealing with things like attraction, love, infatuation, jealously, rejection - you really just learn through experience. And by the way, no where am I advocating that companies shouldn't set clear boundaries on conduct in the workplace. Shit happens, and people will fuck up purposely or accidentally and should be held accountable (which may involve termination or even involvement of the justice system - depending on severity). I'm disgusted by OP's characterization of individuals that were fired in this probe, the ugly words she/he uses to describe them and for implicitly advocating to ostracize them from society - people he knows nothing about.


If it is normal to not know the difference, then they need class on it. No reason to have random girls be harassed cause duses are too emotional to know difference. However, they are both well aware and in enough of emotional control.

Seriously, if your emotions are that out of control, you are not suitable to live independently. I might be fine to use taxes to pay you counselling through.


Why would you think I was referring to 'dudes'? I was referring to 20-somethings, men and women. Women can be (and are) dumbasses too.

I think you and I are too far apart on this. I disagree with your thought process and your conclusions.


Neither men nor women are thay much stupid. We are talking about unethical and morally wrong behavior, not stupidity anyway.


It doesn't help your case to misrepresent what happened here. Nobody got fired for asking out a coworker.


Jesus. They are still people. You want to ostracize them from all society and prevent them from earning a living in their chosen career?

No one has an absolute right to work in the industry of their choice. If you join a company that makes your future career more difficult then that's bad luck, but maybe it's also a lesson for us all: speak up for your coworkers when you see bad behaviour, and don't let things escalate to the point where other companies might see you as a bad hire for something you didn't do.


Time to hope you had an education that was broader than a career that is based entirely on acting like a dick.

I would not ever hire anyone from Uber. The tech people I've met from there are technologically toxic and disgustingly gross as human beings.

Sorry kids. Is it anecdotal evidence? Yes. Is it based on going to hang with their hangouts? Yes. It is.

Soooooo messed up in every way.

20 is a good start.


As a counter argument, complicit nazis who did not have a direct hand in the gas chambers are also people, but I doubt many people sympathize with their ability to live their lives normally after the war.


That Godwined quickly.


Wow.


> 'Sexual harassment' is also a catch-all term that can encompass all kinds of actions.

Not one of which should ever be tolerated in the work environment.

There should not be 2, much less 20, simultaneously being fired for this.


The easy way to avoid this would be to hire people still employed by Uber. I'd say most people don't quit their job then start the interviewing process. Usually people quit once they have a new job lined up.


I have the exact opposite experience- most of the people I know here in the bay area embrace "funemployment" by having a break between leaving their jobs and getting a new one. At a minimum I wouldn't use it as a heuristic for whether the person is hirable or not.


The "funemployment" part is true, but that's usually after they secured a job and plan on starting with a bit of a break.

Otherwise their "funemployment" would be plagued with job interviews and prep.


I've left all of my previous posts without anything lined up and taken a few months. Even once in to the interview cycle at the end, it's a lot more relaxing (and flexible) than doing them while employed!


I've wondered how common this is in the bay. Can you expand on this with an anecdote or two? Do the people who you know that have done this seem to ever have problems getting hired again?


I just did this (left Uber, actually, a month and change ago). Found something since. "Why'd you leave" questions weren't any harder than "why are you leaving" questions.


That's why you list references from your last job and people call them to see what kind of person you were while there.


reference checks are useless. if you list HR they can only confirm employment. If you list your friends they going to say good things. if you list anyone else you are doing it wrong


You never list references from your last job.

You don't want your future company to call your current company to give them a heads up that you are leaving.

For this very same reason, companies never ask for reference from your current job.


In the UK, you tend to get an offer conditional on references, and you only provide them once you've given notice to your current place.


That's absolutely not what's meant by "listing references". The OP is talking about listing reference, possibly on his resume or on-request, to companies he's prospecting.

The UK has a custom to perform an employment and criminal check by a 3rd party company when you join a new company (after you signed a contract and already gave your notice). That's unrelated.


>For this very same reason, companies never ask for reference from your current job.

Sure they do. They just give you an offer first and make it conditional on a reference check.


Does it make having "Uber" in your Career Profile look bad now?

Even if someone wants to genuinely switch job within next few month out of Uber, It would raise eyebrows at next interview table. So Uber gonna have very mall attrition rate now. Every action has both side of coin. :)


Depending on where you are, it already has been. I recruited a friend recently who worked for Uber two jobs ago, and got objections at multiple levels (pulled them through because I knew they left Uber originally due to ethical objections and could speak to that directly). At this point having it in your job history needs to be addressed in your e-mail/cover letter.


Honestly, that sounds a little ridiculous and I wouldn't want to interview at the company you work for.


What about a zenifits job?

They had to BAN sex in the stairwells and drinking on the job


Or UploadVR!

I read several reports of their "kink room", but I never did read any reports that they actually got rid of the "kink room".


Having a problem and addressing it is different than having a problem and not addressing it for years (and yeah, I might ask an ex-Zenefits prospect how they felt about that). Is that unclear or difficult to understand?


I think you read tone into my comment where there was none. Mine was a valid question; "in your opinion, iss Zenifits also seen poorly on a resume, given the fact that it is known that the CEO had to step down and they had to take measures to ban sex and drinking in the office, and this is amplified by the fact that they are a freaking HR company" -

- I would think that if anyone is familiar with the Valley, that they would certainly know the Zenifits story and should rightfully-aise eyebrows if they see the positions on a resume...

I wasnt challenging your comment, I wa agreeing with it and adding zenefits to the naughty list.


Ah, gotcha. My apologies, not always easy to gauge intent!


What company is that so I know to avoid it? Sounds like you should get out of there.


Nah. I like working somewhere where ethics are taken seriously.

If you've been working for Uber for the last couple years (in an engineering role, and not visa-restricted), you need to have an answer for why you've remained someplace with so many serious ethical issues. And to be clear, "I needed to pay bills" is a real answer. But you need to have it and be willing to say it and defend it.


I don't see how it's productive to put a scarlet letter on someone simply based on where he or she used to work as "third engineer from the left." Maybe one day the place where you currently happen to work will earn some kind of tarnished reputation--should your career suffer because of it? Should you have to quit out of fear of being put on a blacklist, putting your livelihood at risk?


The crucial part here is the nature of the reputation. We're not talking about some shady dealings of the upper management, that individual employees may or may not have been aware of. We're talking about employee culture inside the company - something that is, by definition, exposed to and shaped by employees. Given the magnitude of the problem in Uber, on the basis of reports we've seen so far, on the balance of probabilities, it would be more surprising than not for an engineer who works there to be unaware that such things are going on around them.

And if they were aware, but didn't blow the whistle (after going through the usual HR complaint process and running into blocks there, as others have reported), that is definitely a very questionable ethical choice that deserves future scrutiny, including for anyone hiring that person.


Uber is big and the culture in any given pocket varies quite a bit. It's entirely possible not to have known what was going on 200 employees over.


Are you claiming that good teams with a good culture actually exist at Uber? What's your evidence?


I worked on one.


"I like working somewhere where ethics are taken seriously."

Objecting people just because they've worked for a company-turned-toxic without getting into details seems damn unethical to me. That's no better than racial or other profiling ("they all are like this" mentality) imho.


> I like working somewhere where ethics are taken seriously.

Right on. A person's ethics will be impacted by the culture they willingly chose to remain in. If that culture is thoroughly toxic, i.e. not just confined to different spaces, then it's is necessary to probe deeper into the reasons why they remained.

In my experience, the people who object most strongly to the consideration of complicity, are also the same people, who at one point or another, went quietly or happily along with wrongdoing.

Their indignation can be distilled to: "Why should I, or anyone, be shamed for turning a blind eye to the suffering of fellow human beings?"


I'm not sure why you're being downvoted. This is a thing and I know people turning down Uber recruiters because they don't want to be associated with Uber's wrongdoings and questionable morals.


Turning down Uber recruiters is different from other recruiters turning down ex-Uber candidates. There's no reason a person should be expected to board what they perceive to be a sinking ship.


You'd have to be one foolish hiring manager to make blanket generalizations on Uber employees like this – and thankfully I haven't seen many instances of that. Most Uber employees that do leave tend to have no issues finding a job at the FANGs of the world. This is easily verifiable on LinkedIn.


If having Uber in my career profile makes me look bad to a prospective company then I don't want to work at that company. If the company policy I'm applying to is so toxic that they feel the need to purge people for minor things then I would never want to work there.


Excuse me, sir or madam. You seem to have accidentally included sexual harassment in the category of "minor things." I presume that you are not such an awful human being that you actually believe this, so I would suggest choosing your words more carefully in the future so that people don't accidentally consider you terrible.


Google had many reported cases of sexual harrassment. Is having Google in your resume a bad thing too?


Google doesn't have a reputation of ignoring it to the point where they tacitly encourage it, like Uber does.


I'd never hire anyone who had worked for Uber anyway. They're far too loose with the truth/superiority complex. uber = above, as in above the law


Interesting how this contrasts with what Uber's new HR head said 2.5 weeks ago:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2017/05/25/ubers-bi...

Its also great to see that no company is too big to be raked over the coals over workplace sexual harassment.


I guess other companies should be wary of persons who leave Uber in the past few weeks or so.


Nah, profiling is no good. Probably a better idea to work on a solid recruiting process that can shake out practitioners of bad behavior from the candidate pool. Then you can handle it and more.


> "Probably a better idea to work on a solid recruiting process that can shake out practitioners of bad behavior from the candidate pool."

I agree in principle - but how do you suggest this be done?

It's not as if harassers are going to cop to it in an interview.

I: "Have you sexually harassed your colleagues at previous jobs?"

C: "Oh yeah, sure, yep, I'll show myself out now."

Nor are companies permitted to answer whether or not someone was terminated for cause, or whether they received harassment-related reprimands.

I think everyone agrees that detecting and filtering out bad actors from your candidate pool is great - but is there actually a practical way to do so?

The "state of the art" around this is back-channeling - calling around to see if you can locate people who have worked with the candidate, and getting the unofficial word on whether or not they're bad actors. This has pretty glaring and obvious issues, and isn't always possible, but we don't really have a better way.

I think profiling people for leaving Uber is highly problematic - but what's the alternative? Ask them if they got canned for harassment, and when they inevitably deny it, just take them at their word?


You are assuming Uber could/would look out for potential sexual harassers, but suddenly starting to care isn't as easy and obvious as you make it; their idea of "bad actors" is likely to be different, including potential complainers, whistleblowers, union leaders, etc.


Not being someone who harasses others at work, I don't know if this would work. But if your company had a reputation of taking that kind of thing seriously, wouldn't it mean that those bad actors would be less likely to apply at your company?


Yes, I think it would - but most companies are small and do not have known cultural reputations, so this kind of strategy likely will only be useful to larger/name-brand companies.

IMO the lack of this reputation harms startups - some larger companies have been known to take harassment and abuse more seriously than others, and they've attracted a greater share of marginalized demographics. This is great for employees - they have greater safety at work - but bad for the ecosystem, as this is an entire talent pool that startups - who comparatively have little reputation - are missing out on.

The other poster also brings up a good point: not all bad actors know they are bad. Generally speaking everyone is the Good Guy in their own head. That said, there are certainly many bad actors who are aware of how their actions are received and will seek easier environs.


In my experience few people think their behaviors are bad, and most people have some justification for it (calling derogatory comments "locker room talk" being a notable recent example)


I don't really like the "bad actor" model of things. You don't just want people who aren't going to engage in that sort of behavior regardless of context. You also want people who are professional enough to figure out what's allowed and work within that box.


The article contains so little information (that isn't already revealed in the nicely succinct headline) that clicking through is almost certainly not worth your time.


Here's Recode's version, which is just as slim as Bloomberg's: https://www.recode.net/2017/6/6/15747446/uber-fires-20-emplo...

However, Recode notes that Bloomberg was the first to report this info. So, the OP is the best that we have so far until the Holder report is released.


Mike Isaac (who's broken a number of Uber stories lately) was tweeting about it -- apparently they're announcing the firings at an all-hands meeting right now. I expect we'll know more in an hour or two.

https://twitter.com/MikeIsaac/status/872147778461421568


Controversial opinion here...

Why are the vocal hacker news commenters against segregated groups? For instance, what would be the issue with places that have selective hiring for individuals that meet their cultural composition and why does that bother you specifically?

Isn't that the case in every location?

In this case, there was harassment, however generally it is understood that "birds of a feather flock together" so wouldn't it make sense to simply find your flock rather than trying to force yourself to mold to someone else's?

I am genuinely curious about this as it seems to be a rising trend where the vocal minority want to enforce their idea of culture and beliefs onto others as if it were a religious or cult like movement that I have seen before in Christian groups.


I'm trying to parse out your meaning here. Are you suggesting that companies like Uber should be open and encouraged to hire sexual harassers so that they might all enjoy the company of each other?

Or are you suggesting that someone who has been harassed should leave their employer and not complain about it, because the company should be free to sexually harass as much as it wants? Or both?


I will humor this idea that I was specifically talking about "sexual harassers" specifically and all the people in question are indeed "sexual harassers" since that seems to be your moral objection.

Are you morally against sexual harassers going to therapy together, or being in business together due to the nature of the moral composition of what a sexual harasser has done, does the amount of sexual harassing or degree come into factor, and at what point is the sexual harassing dangerous to others. Is it dangerous that these people are grouping together, and why would that be dangerous? Is it dangerous when other groups of people group together? Woodworkers, doctors, nurses, pedophiles, politicians, bsdm workers, prostitutes, pimps, rappers, engineeers... I am uncertain as to what you specifically disagree with people of the same kind grouping together?

Isn't this something that prisons, schools, neighborhoods do? If not enforced or by design, generally it occurs by natural progression regardless.

Onto your second point, I am not sure how you came to this conclusion, everyone is free to complain. I am talking pre-entry, you deduce the nature of the company prior to entry and whether thats an environment you can live within. When you are inside and it changes, you still are a component and can witness the change and deduce whether its something you can live within or find yourself being comfortable with. This is a psychological point and not from a point of morals but a point of behavior.

There are places that I will never apply to or work at because I know that we will not work well together due to the nature of their culture, and I don't complain about them because they have the right to group together in such a way.

We complain once it becomes an issue and harms others, and that is fine. Everyone is okay with this, I find no issue with this.

What I do find issue with, is people going further and applying what works for their specific ideology or culture to others by _force_ through nefarious tactics like you either intentionally or unintentionally have done through position of morals, shaming, bullying, etc..

That is what I have an issue with.


To turn the pre-entry screening argument around: Sexual harassment is illegal is this country. If you want to allow sexual harassment at your company, you should have done a better job of choosing countries to start your business in.


HN seems to be in favor of segregated groups.

A few years ago I would have said that companies should be apolitical and that they should hire the best people available and have everyone act somewhat professionally.

But now it seems everyone wants companies to be political, liberals want companies to be pro gay marriage, christians want companies to be against it. When companies didn't have to pick sides a liberal and christian could work at the same company, but no it seems we're creating more and more segregated groups.

Then to make matters even worse we have social media policies that prevent you from voicing any opinion not shared by your corporate overlord.


I don't think most liberals want companies to be "pro gay marriage", they want companies to take no stance on gay marriage at all and just treat it as "marriage".


He was more specifically talking about the preaching of a specific type of marriage, and the rules and regulations around them which are quite often you must align with our views and values or not participate at all.

It's a valid point, you also make a valid point but miss the mark on his initial assertion


> I am genuinely curious about this as it seems to be a rising trend where the vocal minority want to enforce their idea of culture and beliefs onto others as if it were a religious or cult like movement that I have seen before in Christian groups.

It seems to me that in this particular case, it's not a matter of "enforcing their idea of culture and beliefs onto others", but just enforcing the law.


People don't tend to want the law enforced just because it's the law. There are all sorts of weird laws still on the books in some places yet no ones getting outraged that people are fishing without a hat on or whatever.


Because, given the gender balance when it comes to people on positions of power (eg company CEOs), this would drastically reduce the career prospects of women, minorities, etc, since cultures decided on by white males are often hostile to those groups. And we have, as a society, decided to use the law to prevent such outcomes.


I wonder if this helps encourage the senior leadership of other companies that have issues with harrasment not being punished to step up and discipline the harrassers.


I'm not detracting from the real sexual harassment that occurred but looking for naughty people to fire is one of the first steps before redundancies. All it takes is for the IT department to scour the exchange server for ignored or rejected emails asking a female colleague if she wants a coffee, and making them the cost free fires.


Can we please live in a time where this is not news but common sense?


Are we really at the point in society if someone asks a coworker out on a date its sexual harassment? I imagine the answer to that is whether she said yes or not. Rule #1 ... be attractive.


"Please avoid introducing classic flamewar topics unless you have something genuinely new to say about them."

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14499713 and marked it off-topic.


I'm surprised that we are still at a point in society where people legitimately don't understand the difference between workplace-appropriate behaviour, and harassment.

But, to spell the difference out:

Once is asking. Twice is harassment. Propositioning a report is a fireable offense.

There's more to it, but those are the basics.


>I'm surprised that we are still at a point in society where people legitimately don't understand the difference between workplace-appropriate behaviour, and harassment.

I'm not, especially when it comes to tech which is full of young 20-somethings, some of whom may be brilliant when it comes to programming and mathematics, but dumb when it comes to social cues and social interactions. A lot of this stuff gets figured out with experience.

>Once is asking. Twice is harassment. Propositioning a report is a fireable offense.

Sure. Sounds like a good general rule that may be too permissive in some cases, and too punishing in other.


I work in tech. While there are problems, dudes are way better at social skills then you imply. Thay includes dudes with asperger.


Yes. Of course. Generally people are good and decent. And this case doesn't contradict this since we're talking about 20 fired employees out of 12,000.

And I didn't only refer to 'dudes'. I referred to 20-somethings. Women can be dumbasses too.


I don't think it is correct to use words dumbass and unethical as synonyms. They are not.

I defended dudes here, because they were treated as normally unethical or normally dumbass. Since women were not implied to be less capable, there was no need to defend then.


[flagged]


These threads don't need drive-by inflammation, please.


Is "inflammation" a function of opinion popularity?


No, rather a function of provocation over substantiveness.


And popular opinions are not provocative, by definition. Why would one pour substance into a comment which will be flag killed anyways, instead of simply saying what one means succinctly in the hopes that approximately four people will be exposed to ideas they've never been exposed to?


12,000 employees in Uber? (I'm assuming that doesn't include the drivers). What do they do all day?


Help manage the 1 million rides that happen every day in 450 cities. Multiple products, localization, recruiting, customer support, operations, etc etc etc.

Look at their job openings to get a sense of how massive of an operation Uber is: https://careers-uber.icims.com/jobs/search?iis=joindot-V101A...


>manage

How do they manage the rides? I thought it was handled by the app?


I'm guessing they deal with a lot of complaints from both riders and drivers. They're usually really responsive to that stuff so probably a lot of staff handling it.


Someone has to write the app and maintain the backend.


Also deal with all the crazy situations that arise from cars driving humans through cities


You should be able to do both with far fewer than 12,000 people. I suspect that the bulk of those people are doing something else.


Well, no one's stopping you from starting a competitor. Since you can do it with far fewer people, you should be profitable in no time. Good luck!


I never said Uber didn't have that many people. I said that all those people aren't writing the app and maintaining the backend.

Could I do it with fewer people? Maybe, maybe not. Could I do it with fewer than 12,000 people writing the app and maintaining the backend? Absolutely.


I don't think the poster was implying that they don't do anything, just that they are working on something the public doesn't know about.


If he started as a competitor, he would likely did out that he needs a lot of people on non programming positions.

Also, even if you managed to do similar with less people, it still would not be enough unless he would also be willing to break the law as uber is known for.


It surprises me that you think the tech aspect of Uber is the biggest. It's not; the biggest aspect of Uber is operations. For every city you have onboard, you need significant people on the ground that work on driver recruitment, dealing with local gov, training, driver support, local marketing. Some markets have their own apps (like Australia with its on driver-to-driver interim chat feature).


> You should be able to do both with far fewer than 12,000 people.

You're absolutely right. You could probably run Uber with a tenth of that headcount.

The thing is, at a lot of companies - and I'm guessing Uber is the same - there's no incentive to have a small team. In fact, managers are incentivized to have a bigger team. Having more reports, and more levels of management, under you is a status symbol. Plus, people use it to justify taking on bigger roles and more responsibility - "better to give the promotion to the person who already has experience managing a 300 person team and already has experience managing managers who manage managers than the person who's been making do with 10 direct reports."

So a lot more people end up getting hired than perhaps are really strictly necessary. It's a dynamic that probably most high-growth companies fall into at some point. You have to really consciously make an effort to stay lean if you want to.

Of course, what's wrong with having a little fat in the workforce as long as you have plenty of cash in the bank and can still operate effectively? Even if the hiring is driven in part by execs jockeying for position it's still spreading some of Uber's cash out to a broader swath of people. From a societal standpoint it's arguably better for Uber to employ 12,000 than 1,200 people.


No, you couldn't. Uber is a global company with operations in almost 100 countries, and in several hundred cities. Each city has their own team of employees running the business.


Just enumerating the publicly-known and publicly-alleged activities of Uber: (WARNING to the humor averse: this is part true, and part tongue-in-cheek)

1. Running a rideshare app.

2. Customer Service.

3. Union Busting

4. Autonomous Vehicle Development.

5. Misappropriation of Trade Secrets.

6. Developing systems to deceive government regulators.

7. Figuring out how to cut the throats of other department heads aka "always be hustlin'".

8. Poaching drivers from other rideshare networks.

9. Subprime auto financing

10. Techblog rants about tech that breaks when Uber breaks it

11. Rental/leasing programs

12. Generating bogus ride requests on other rideshare networks.

13. Getting dates for CEO ("Boober", lest we forget)

14. Getting CEO invited to celebrity parties

15. Flying Cars.

16. Food Delivery.

17. Autonomous LTL and Truckload carriage.

18. Innovating new ways to break laws.

19. Fending off unwanted sexual advances.

And no, drivers are not included as they are not drivers. Also, there are a lot more than 12,000 Uber drivers. There's probably at least half that in California alone, possibly more.


They use a different model in nearly every city they operate (some are base fare + per mile; some base fare + per mile + per minute, others flat fee between certain areas, etc.) thanks to varied taxi laws across the country / world. That takes a lot of local employees.


That's a lot of laws to skirt.


They're in a lot of counties and have a massive infrastructure. This number isn't that surprising.


This is roughly as many employees as Apple had in 2005 so it still seems rather high to me.


Well, this is world-wide. Presumably most of them are local support and such.


At a valuation of $6m/employee it's hard to argue with.


In the business world, people typically cite profit/employee or revenue/employee. It's only in SV that people cite valuation/employee..


They're on a run rate of ~$14 billion in 2017 revenue based on their Q1 numbers, so call it $1.2 million per employee in revenue.


I can have a run rate of infinity dollars, if my business model consists of selling $20 bills for $19.

What's their revenue minus costs of revenue?


is that any different from profit?


It is. If they made 20 billion dollars, and then spent 21 billion dollars, and 2 billion of the latter was a big pile of money that they set on fire, it shouldn't count as a cost of revenue.

If, on the other hand, the spent all 21 billion dollars on paying drivers, driver promotions, marketing, flash sales, and coupons... It most certainly should.


> What do they do all day?

Convince the investors of the company worth?


are you the type to ask that question about google and facebook too? uber is facebook minus a few years and has similiar numbers


I ask that about Twitter - these companies always seem to have more than I would expect necessary.


Adding manpower doesn't make product/shipping grow linearly. At a certain point the majority of work is coordination costs, but is mostly requisite to eke out a wide range of coordinated and successful products.

At scale things can become massively difficult.


i think you underestimate the massive amount of backend and internal optimization that's required. Sure, the MVP of Twitter is a few thousand lines of code, but think about ad buying, ad display, abuse detection, customer service, content management, APIs, mobile, mobile web, etc., and that's just on the engineering side of things. For every engineer you'll need business folks, PMs, designers, operations, etc.


Hell, Twitter is a great example. We know what Twitter looks like without enough staff: an unreliable MVP that fail-whales all the time. Twitter acquired the staff and capital to scale up and they became far more stable.

The economies of scale large computer systems offer are counter-weighted by the n-squared complexity of larger systems.


Yet Whatsapp managed to support 500M users sending 10 billion messages/day using five mobile apps with only 50 engineers.


About Facebook, yes. Google does genuinely seem to have fingers in very many pies so their headcount is not really a surprise.


Facebook also has fingers in many pies (their main product, the messenger, ads, VR...)


Facebook had ~2000 employees just before their IPO IIRC. Just as a data point.


A lot of them seem dedicated to repeatedly contacting me about interviewing there. As in trying to get me to. No thank you.


I just want to say, for every person in disgust of Uber and their sexual harassment scenario, there are many more of us that just don't care.

Of course, most that don't care don't comment. So the comment section is not a good view of public opinion. Just the vocal minority.


Or the silent folks already agree that illegal harassment is bad and don't have anything new to contribute.


Not caring about sexual harassment is like not caring about racism, homophobia and similar human rights violations. So not sure if that's the kind of person you want to be.


Yours is an interesting comment because of its paradoxical nature. You seem to be implying that you yourself "don't care", but then say that those that don't care don't comment, and yet here you are commenting, which would imply that you do indeed care. But then, you only care enough to say you don't care, and that there are "many more" people like you. But I don't see anyone else saying "hey, we don't care" on this thread, which leads me to believe that there actually aren't more people like you. My brain is caught in a loop!


I'll help solve the paradox. "Don't care" can refer to at least 3 things:

1. don't care that there is sexual harassment at Uber 2. don't care about sexual harassment like that occurred at Uber 3. don't care that other people think most people care

My comment is about those that check off all 3. They are the majority, and they don't comment. For me, I only check off #1 and #2, hence the comment.


I think part of the response you're getting is that "I don't care" is still vague.

It could mean you don't find it interesting or relevant to your life. Or it could mean you don't think sexual harassment is morally wrong. Or something else.

For example, I could say that I "don't care" about cholera deaths in Africa. I think it's a tragedy and hope the situation improves, but I'm not seeking out news about it or basing life-decisions around it. I "care" but I don't really care... at least not to the point that it changes my behavior.

Then again, I'm not jumping into discussions on cholera stories to tell people how much I don't care about cholera deaths. So, it feels like you're trying to make some big statement, e.g. taking a stand against "political correctness" or claiming sexual harassment isn't morally wrong.


Yes, I did go back and clarify my comment a bit already

Sexually harassment can definitely be morally wrong. But I'm not particularly outraged, mad, or upset by the sexual harassment scenario that happened at Uber, specifically. I don't think all sexual harassment should be lumped together, and doing so can lead to witch hunts.


Gotcha. I don't agree 100% with this clarified position (I think), but it seems like a rational position that we could debate. Not here of course. :) But you know, over drinks or whatevs.

Anyway, the point is that it's a much less outlandish statement than how I interpreted your original comment.


There's no can about it. It always is wrong.


So you probably think that air conditioning constitutes sexual harassment.


That doesn't make a lick of sense.


Why would do care whether other people think most people care? What makes this special? You are not posting similar comments under other articles.


That's an interesting question. I think there are pretty big bubbles that have formed in terms of ideology -- that clouds perception of the greater country/world/etc. For whatever reason, that annoys me. I don't really know why.

Other subjects, generally, don't have an ideological bubble around them.

Another user on this thread is saying I will get banned for my comment, which is a good illustration of how the problem is exacerbating.


There is a bubble of people who claim that harassment don't happen and the negative reaction to it is always unfair.

Then there is bubble of people who claim that serious harassment is all the time around to almist all women and most companies and non victims (e.g. males) don't care.

Which of these bubbles were you trying to prove wrong?


Risky move.


HN generally welcomes people with a wide set of beliefs and values. I don't think someone would be banned just because they say they don't care about something. Of course I could still be proven wrong.


I'm guessing he was referring to the loss of internet points for posting an opinion out of the mainstream on a topic like this, where even the normally open minded and discussion oriented HN folks expect you to toe the party line.


I really don't care, but I'll further convolute your logic by commenting. In my anecdotal experience, there are many people that do not care about these controversies. They care more more about whether Uber is solving their transportation problem.


I think you should probably re-examine your priorities in life, but that's just me. You do you.


We don't know their priorities so we can't really judge that.

I am sure there are many things that you don't care about that others would think you should, but it doesn't mean you are wrong and they are right. The world isn't black and white.


Dang went through and banned a lot of accounts for posts like this yesterday. Heads up.


I don't see how it violates any of the rules of HN comments.


> Of course, those that don't care don't comment.

A claim contradicted by its mere existence in a post claiming to be from someone in the subject group.


Hard not to reply with sarcasm. Other people not caring about sexual harassment makes it worse.


If no one cared, the problem would be solved. That's simple logic right there.

An odd unexpected consequence of this is that by trying to get fewer people to care, it is in fact helping to solve the problem.


Apply this logic to any other crime and you'll see it's nonsensical.

"If no one cared about extrajudicial gangs roving the streets murdering people, the problem would be solved. After all, I wasn't murdered. That's simple logic right there"


You're right though. If no one cared about extrajudicial gangs roving the streets murdering people, then it wouldn't be a problem! I know it sounds crazy. But the argument is sound.

Let's put it this way. If everyone enjoyed extrajudicial gangs roving the streets murdering people, then it would be the opposite of a problem, wouldn't it? It would be a good thing.

A necessary requirement for a problem to be a problem is that we have to care about it, or at least the effects of it.


The people being murdered would not enjoy it. Jesus. Please just stop, you're making a terrible argument.


But that wasn't your argument. In your argument no one cares. Even the people murdered.

The argument is sound.


If that was your argument there was no point in posting it.


No, because people not caring would encourage sexual harassment to continue, as there is no consequence for it happening.


The natural follow-up question I have, is why don't you care?


That's a great question! I can't speak for everyone, but personally I don't think asking another adult if they want to have sex with you is morally wrong, even in the workplace.

I think Americans are way too sensitive when it comes to sexuality. They repress it way too much.

For reference, here is the accusation from the blog post:

On my first official day rotating on the team, my new manager sent me a string of messages over company chat. He was in an open relationship, he said, and his girlfriend was having an easy time finding new partners but he wasn't. He was trying to stay out of trouble at work, he said, but he couldn't help getting in trouble, because he was looking for women to have sex with. It was clear that he was trying to get me to have sex with him, and it was so clearly out of line that I immediately took screenshots of these chat messages and reported him to HR.


So you don't believe a superior (her manager) was wrong to insinuate a question of whether she would participate in his sexual life?

What if she didn't complain to HR, rebuffed his advances, and he subsequently decided to demote her position, or cut her pay, or even just move her desk out of an office and into a cubicle?

Would it be alright then?

Bringing sexual advances of any kind within a situation where there is a power difference (ie, manager vs lower-level employee) is a recipe for disaster within a company. Ideally, it has nothing to do with being too sensitive about things sexual. While I'll agree with you that, in many cases, American views and such on sexuality are messed up, in this case it is pretty clear why this kind of thing isn't tolerated.

Between individuals on the same "level" within a company is one thing (but still frowned upon and should generally be avoided); provided the advance is innocuous enough (ie - asking for a date, for instance), and it isn't repeated if rebuffed - and the individuals aren't in any power difference (C-level to management, management to lower-level employee, etc) - then it may be permissible.

But even here - if I was an owner of a company - I would want this to be verboten, for the simple reason that should the advance be rebuffed (or worse, things go great - then something happens and things fall apart) - it can lead to strife between employees (at a minimum, the two involved, but it could easily lead to "side taking") - which can harm productivity, cohesiveness, and ultimately the image of the company should it become public knowledge.


Alright or not is relative and always depends on the context.

If I'm the manager and by doing that there is possibility that I could get sex with minimal downside then its alright.

If I'm the woman and him doing that make me uncomfortable then its not alright but if I do like the guy or maybe I can use it to advance my position in the company then its alright.


While I don't think a manager should be allowed to proposition reports for sex, you hint at another problem that is almost never discussed (unlike harassment which is very often talked about):

Women (mostly) who have relationships with superiors in order to advance their careers. Or women who have relationships with superiors because they are attracted to them (often because they are attracted to power/authority/resources) and as a side effect advance their careers.

This is unfair and demoralizing to other employees, gets the wrong people promoted and consequently damages the organization. Yet it seems like this is hardly ever mentioned as a problem.

Perhaps this is more of an issue in Europe where I'm based, while the US tends to be more strict even in this regard?


Harassment encompasses a wide range of behaviors besides "asking another adult if they want to have sex with you," from _continuing to ask someone after they've turned you down_, to inappropriate touching, to quid-pro-quo, where career advancement, or good work assignments, are tied to sexual favors. These offers don't need to be explicit.

It's difficult to do your best work when you don't feel safe in the workplace. It's also difficult to advance your career when your boss is demanding sexual favors in exchange for promotions or favorable work assignments. Fundamentally these are unfair to the people being harassed, which is why laws and workplace norms exist to discourage them. They also expose the company to a large amount of legal liability.

I'd suggest listening to people who have had to deal with this issue in the past, or paying better attention during harassment training the next time you are asked to do it at your workplace.


But none of those other behaviors happened at Uber. It was literally someone asking another adult if they want to have sex. How childish are we to get upset over this?

I can understand that feeling uncomfortable is not good. Lots of things make lots of people uncomfortable. Maybe the issue is that Americans become uncomfortable too easily? Or do not know how to handle feeling uncomfortable?


> But none of those other behaviors happened at Uber

That's false; of course they did. She was told by HR that after her manager propositioned her, she had to switch to another team, or likely suffer a poor performance review.

In another conversation with HR she was told that CA is an at-will employment state and she was on thin ice for reporting her manager to HR.

In other words she was punished for declining a proposition.


"But none of those other behaviors happened at Uber."

That's not true.

"It was literally someone asking another adult if they want to have sex."

Not at all. It was a boss repeatedly asking their subordinate if they want to have sex. Huge difference.


You being in a relationship with, or having sex with, your direct manager isn't (just) about discomfort, it's about unprofessionalism.

There are plenty of people to have sex or relationships with. You don't need to look to your direct employees.


It wasn't just another adult, it was her direct manager. The person she depends on for her livelihood was propositioning her over the company chat software. There is rarely a good outcome in these situations, and in the BEST case it changes the employee/manager relationship drastically.

If someone propositions me at a bar, I can roll my eyes and walk away. If a friend propositions me, I can say "no" and decide whether or not I want to continue being friends with them. If my manager propositions me, I'm put in a -- not just an "uncomfortable" position -- but a really bad one that might seriously impact my life and my family's life.

About a year ago I momentarily misinterpreted a conversation over company chat with my new manager and thought he was about to sexually proposition me -- similar to what Fowler experienced. I don't want to give too many details, but it turned out to be _entirely_ harmless, there was just a cultural divide and he had a poor choice of words and the rest of the conversational context was unfortunate, but I pretty quickly figured out what he was talking about without him being any the wiser. But in that one second, it was like my entire world stopped. Like, heart pounding, vision narrowing, stomach dropped.

I'm a 28 year old woman, I've been propositioned plenty of times before (from "graphic drunk bar type stuff" to "politely asked on a date by a co-worker in another department" -- not a big deal in either case), but it's never caused such an immediate physical reaction like that. My mind just started racing, trying desperately to figure out how to handle it, staring at the screen in a literal physical cold sweat, and coming up with nothing good.

I was new in the company and I needed my manager's approval to succeed. He sits right across from me. I had just gotten married two weeks before, just gotten back from my honeymoon, my savings are depleted and I can't pay my mortgage without my job. My husband can't support both of us. I barely know my manager -- what would he do if I said "no"? If someone's capable of overstepping a huge boundary like this -- sexually propositioning a new employee they're managing -- what else are they capable of? Is this what I'd have to deal with for the rest of my time at the company? How do I stop it? Can I stop it? There are no female co-workers in the office -- there's no one to talk to for help.

I'm very glad (understatement) that this turned out to not be the case, and my momentary panic was just the result of a misunderstanding, but it really gave me insight into the problem that cases of sexual harassment like this can cause. This is NOT just "one adult asking another adult if they want to have sex." I've been asked for sex before -- even by relative strangers. I've asked other people for sex before. Heck, in my younger, single, wild days, I've consented to sex with relative strangers! I've gone on to have good friendships with people I've turned down sex from. I'll even admit to fantasizing about the odd boss or co-worker over the years, sure, but I keep it in my head. But actually being propositioned by a manager, in real life, on a Tuesday morning at your desk, in the real world with real world implications? It was absolutely terrifying for reasons that have nothing to do with sex.


I have at least some sympathy with the point you're trying to make here. I think you are essentially saying that we've all gone a bit soft, and that the modern workplace is full of a bunch of crybabies that can't solve any problem on their own without escalating it to HR. And this problem becomes particularly egregious when that escalation turns into a dark mark on that person's "permanent record", as it tends to do in modern society when we're talking about allegations of sexual harassment. Can't we all just be grown-ups and deal with our problems with ease and panache, rather than being sanctimonious little tattletales?

I get this argument, but I would posit to you that perhaps the modern take on sexual harassment IS society growing up. Consider changing your mindset - imagine that a new hire is just bad at working with people. They don't consider other people's ideas, or they're just generally rude - whatever it is. Just generally hard to work with. Now try to think about somebody who makes inappropriate propositions to women in the workplace: this is just another brand of the same problem. If you can't get along with some of your fellow female coworkers because they don't feel comfortable with you, then you're not a good team player.

In other words, instead of thinking about society as having gone soft, think about it like we go hard. We demand excellent people-skills in the workplace. If you can't take the heat, and other people feel annoyed, offended, and yes harassed working with you, then you're going to have trouble keeping work. Tough titties. Working at Uber requires excellent technical skills - why not social skills too?

Anyway, I would put it to you that if you don't find this compelling, you might be giving too much primacy to the sensibilities of poorly socialized men. If you find yourself asking "why should these poor saps have to suffer just because they can't talk to girls?" then that's a sign you have a blindspot. Food for thought.


> They don't consider other people's ideas, or they're just generally rude - whatever it is. Just generally hard to work with. Now try to think about somebody who makes inappropriate propositions to women in the workplace: this is just another brand of the same problem. If you can't get along with some of your fellow female coworkers because they don't feel comfortable with you, then you're not a good team player.

I disagree with the idea that we should bully, and ostracize people from society for making mistakes or simply not being able to interact socially with others as well as we all want.

That doesn't fix anything it only makes things worse.

We should be focusing on teaching, and embracing that people make mistakes and working on fixing those issues, if someone refuses to acknowledge that when it is seriously risking the safety of those around them, that is when it becomes a problem that should be handled with grace.

I am heavily against this group ostracizing, demeaning, and bullying tactic. It is getting disgusting, you can see it constantly on twitter, and it is starting to float onto hacker news.


But to play devil's advocate, replace "for simply not being able to interact socially with others" with "for simply not being able to adhere to a schedule" or "for simply not being able to keep up personal hygiene" or "for simply not being able to understand their boss's tasking". There are a million social standards to which we hold the average employee, and they all add up to an effective coworker.

In a world with men and women in the same workspace, being able to interact comfortably with the opposite sex is not just a life skill. It's part of your job description. So I'm not offended by companies that demand high "performance" in this regard.

With all that said, I 100% agree that the increasing frequency of "trial by twitter mob" is an unacceptable development. If somebody got fired for poor job performance, you wouldn't raise a twitter storm shaming that company for having made a poor hiring decision, nor would you plaster that person's mugshot everywhere to warn others of making the same mistake. You would just say "sorry, it's not working out" and send them on their way. So in that regard I think we are actually in complete agreement - making a mistake shouldn't make you a pariah. But I'm fine if it makes you fired.




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