To preface I've work both at Google as an engineer, and frankly speaking the engineering culture at Uber didn't differ all that much. Both org had the same amount of soft misogyny, politics, and HR that protected its highest performers. In fact a lot of characters mentioned in Susan's blog post works at Google today. So what led up to the downfall of TK? Susan Fowler's blog post. What she described is what a lot of people go through in every company, but she was brave enough to post her experience using her real name. I'm willing to bet if she never posted her blog post none of this would've happened, and it would've been business as usual at Uber.
Susan Fowler exposed the weakness in our culture and it catapulted an internal French Revolution where every head had a possibility of getting axed. This put our executives in a disarray and naturally external enemies decided to strike at us when we were weakest. The Waymo lawsuit only happened when it did and only effective as it was because of the chaos Susan Fowler initiated.
So please stop discrediting Susan Fowler, what she did was really the catalyst, the trigger, for Uber to set course on a better path. It's just too bad she wasn't able to stay and see the real impact of her words. Ubers a great place to work now.
This seems a bit much. Why on earth would Google wait to sue? Their case was not at all dependent on internal turmoil at Uber.
Fowler deserves a lot of credit but there was significant chaos pre-blog-post (#deleteuber) and after (Greyball). Uber was having a new crisis every other week it seemed, all stemming from a cavalier, bro-y culture. That all added up, Fowler's post included, to a leadership change.
This narrative and solidarity broke down soley due to Susan Folwer. I really want to emphasize this point. Her blog post is the only piece of controversy that really made ourselves question whether we were doing the right thing. The only time we saw our great leader unable to justify our hypergrowth and the only time I personally saw him break out in tears, was the all hands discussing Susan Fowler's blog post.
So again please don't discredit Susan Folwer's blog post.
I didn't. I said you're over-attributing the Waymo lawsuit to it. You didn't respond to that.
As for whether Fowler was the sole factor in "TK's" ouster and none of the other crises had a material impact, well, that's a strong claim. Benchmark's letter alludes to cavalier business practices as well: "[Operating without a CFO for over two years] cannot be justified, given the scale and complexity of the business, and is symptomatic of the broader problems with past management practices." There were more problems at Uber than just morale.
I hate Uber so much and I'm so glad to see Lyft jumping up the app store charts. Uber let 1k get stolen from me and 1000s of others and their response was basically laughing at us; customers who trusted them with their bank accounts. Their blind arrogance is disgusting and Im so glad to see it's biting them in the butt!
1. #deleteuber was a flash in the pan. It fizzled because it was based on a falsehood, that Uber had broken an airport strike by cancelling surge. Uber cancels surge for all notable events. Lyft somehow avoided judgement, despite also failing to honor the strike. The impetus behind the campaign was a combination of that strike action and Kalanick's presence on President Trump's ill-fated executive council.
2. Greyball is a multi-million dollar suit, it will likely be settled for less. Because Uber was only foolish enough to abuse it in a couple of cities (according to news stories and law suits, who knows what legal discovery will unearth!), the scope is limited. Furthermore, the cities that ban Uber also ban Lyft.
3. Lyft's meteoric growth in 2017 can be primarily linked to the sexual harassment stories about Uber. They even based their entire advertising campaign on it, "how you get there matters," emphasizing the moral superiority of using Lyft over Uber. The ad campaign is incredibly poignant and effective. Lyft has deftly turned the fiasco to its advantage.
Susan was able to accomplish what no person had successfully done by publishing an account on her blog of what happened. Because she had not sued the company for damages, she was not held to silence from a legal settlement. Any opponent claiming she was an opportunist had no evidence, because she didn't file suit nor was seeking damages.
Because of her, an entire chain of events was set off. The intense public pressure, that slammed customer growth, hampered recruitment, and impacted Uber investors' social lives (yes, that was a major factor!) was primarily from Fowler's revelation of the company's indifference to sexual harassment.
2. Greyball is a multi-million dollar suit, it will likely be settled for less. Because Uber was only foolish enough to abuse it in a couple of cities
What's the source for Uber only abusing it in a couple cities? Uber?
The problem with that is that Uber is one of the utterly least trustworthy companies in existence. I, for one, assume that the lie by default, whenever they make a statement.
Not to get too caught up on this, but #deleteuber was in response to them being perceived as breaking the strike by operating at the airport at all. So the fact that they cancel surge for all events wasn't accepted as an excuse. Canceling surge just provided more fodder.
1. The Waymo lawsuit did not only happen because of Fowler's post.
2. There were multiple morality-related crises that contributed to Kalanick's ouster. (Lyft's ad campaign could be referring to the whole stew.)
* most people I talk with are only vaguely aware there are issues at Uber, including many drivers, Uber users, and non-Uber users.
There's absolutely ZERO discrediting of Susan being done in my comment that TK is responsible for his own downfall. I'm being completely misunderstood here.
My desire is simply to ascribe blame and responsibility where I believe it lies - at TK's feet.
If TK had not behaved as he had, and a. cast a blind eye to the offenses against Susan, and b. engendered a culture where others continue to deny and sweep offenses under the carpet, none of this would have happened.
Susan would not have been the victim of such awful treatment. It is so good to see her get out of there, and thrive after all that's happened!
YES it's good that she blew the whistle, but it's STILL HIS FAULT and HE is his own undoing.
I'd like to take this opportunity to plug Joanna Russ' book, How to Suppress Women's Writing. It's hard to find now, but a very entertaining read.
Specifically, in this case, I believe this is the "she didn't really do it" step, or possibly the "but it's not really very important anyway" step.
I’m sorry, but companies’ cultures don’t change that fast and it’s not even really clear how much power Kalanick has actually ceded. Was the entire chain of command from the HR staff that tried to shut women up to the execs that passed around a rape victims medical records cleared out?
I don’t doubt that a place like Google has many of the same problems and agree that Fowler should get a great deal of credit for her courage. But actual change is a long and far more difficult process than what has happened at Uber.
> was the entire chain of command [...] cleared out?
Yes, like 80% of the C suite left. The orgs that had been the worst have had high/mid level management departures too. Our Chief People Officer Lianne has been incredible.
Male engineer (not at Uber) checking in. I find myself pretty astonished at these reports of other men's behavior. And yet, it seems to be widespread enough that some women indicate it's not as rare as we might think.
So, regarding "Uber's a great place to work now" -- is that based on testimony you've heard from women there? Because if not, I'd wonder whether you really have enough evidence to make a claim like that.
There are some who I've spoken with that told me that their previous company (think Google/Facebook/Microsoft caliber companies) which had worse culture of misogyny even compared to pre Susan Fowler Uber.
- would you intentionally treat women badly?
- are you responsible for the actions of other men?
People like to think that silicon valley corporations are very different than their traditional counterparts, they're NOT. HR will always, always, ALWAYS protect top-performers and the interests of the company in front of literally anything else, especially individual employees.
I think more folks should read "Corporate Confidential." Yeah, it's not backed up with "research," but the arguments are compelling and it cogently explains how Susan Fowler's situation could happen at almost any other large company.
Uber will perhaps be able to avoid another giant sexual harassment fiasco, but they're not going to fundamentally change as a result of this and neither will any other company.
How about we instead look at what Fowler did right so that she didn't get "termination and a blacklisting"? Then we can perhaps accelerate the progress that whistleblowers bring to industry and society.
I can tell you right now, however, that HR departments will _NEVER_ have the back of employees. They will do whatever perfunctory actions are mandated by law, but they will eject whistle-blowers and anyone else who they perceive as a "problem" at the first convenient opportunity.
Any troubles in recruiting since then?
Speculation aside, observe that just as lawsuits regarding trade secrets opened up, Uber’s gasket blew with Susan’s story, and then months later James Damore’s gasket blew.
Is there a curious interpretation of this? Why are Google and Uber mentioned hand-in-hand ever since winter, 2016? Is this a question worth asking?
That's why they are asking for bonds(you can't leave the company for the time stipulated in the contract) in India and paying superfluous money.
SDEs hate bonds because we can't leave the company if we don't like the work etc etc
I loved the anecdote of her buying her own leather jacket when Uber couldn't be bothered to buy them for women. Brilliant.
The title is a bit unfortunate in that it makes her sound like an Attorney General but that's nothing to with her but the NY Time's Maureen Dowd who has a penchant for sensational titles.
Let it be known the manager who made the decision not to buy jackets for women only worked at Uber for a year, made a magnificent mess of SRE, and went back to Google with a more senior position. This same guy made a data science manager (who has a PhD in theoretical chemistry) take notes during his meetings, and who coincidentally was one of his only female reports.
Fuck you NSK.
They're both intelligent and willing to learn; traits that mattered a lot more to us than a CS degree. Both also moved to follow the job, and neither regrets it. One worked on her doctorate at CERN, the other at a US facility (I don't recall the name off hand).
Down votes are for communicating "I don't like this post." Flagging is for violation of community guidelines, or just plain abusive comments.
To respond to your claim, I'd like to point to you her blog post on the subject. She does a good job of explaining how she went from zero to being knowledgeable about physics in this post: https://fledglingphysicist.com/2013/12/12/if-susan-can-learn.... Essentially she always was interested in the subject but didn't believe she was smart enough to pursue it, until she was encouraged to take an introductory course.
That being said, in this particular case I have to wonder, what the fuck is the relevance of her physics credentials in this story? For one, she worked as a SRE and got hired based on her capability to do the job (whether you think interviews are a good gauge of job performance or not should be irrelevant), but more importantly does her being a good performer or not have __anything__ to do with how much she should be valued as a human being? Is blatant sexism and trampling someone's fundamental rights OK if said someone is low on the social hierarchy or meritocracy? The mere way this argument seems to be formed is fundamentally strange to me.
(I'm not sure about the threshold and I'm not sure if that is still enabled, because there are a lot of tweaks in HN that are enabled or changed without announcement.)
But sadly enough, people do use down votes for posts that they don't like, and flagging for posts that they really don't like. So it goes.
It seems the HN cultural practice is to down vote posts people don't like or just disagree with. I would rather people reply, but I can't do anything except for practice what I believe is right: I'll down vote a post that doesn't contribute to the discussion, as you do.
Since "doesn't contribute to the discussion" is vague and subjective, I can't claim particularly high moral ground.
I don't think any country at this point is particularly amazing at containing those primal tendencies, but happy to be proven wrong.
Either way, just like with violence and crime, we need to continue the journey of education of what is and is not acceptable behavior in the civilized world in 2017 and hope that that, combined with the legal system, keep those primal urges (that evolve much slower than our technology and our moral progress) in check.
If you want to be "real" just avoid pseudo-scientific claims altogether. If you think there's science behind something at least cite a paper.
"Why do you think that?"
"Someone in an Internet forum said so."
Nobody does that.
Telling stories from personal experience sometimes works. (Take Susan Fowler's essay for example.) Linking to articles from credible sources can work (for example, the NYT article). Asserting scientific statements without backing it up doesn't.
I’d recommend interviewing men and women living there for some context on what a word like that could be like.
I'm sorry, but did you just make a generalizing statement linking a difference in behavior to sex? Logically, you can invert your comment to say that females use sex to get power. Neither of these things can be said. Ever. Isn't this sort of thing precisely what got James Damore run out of town on a rail for, just a few months ago?
Travis created a bad Uber culture in general. He was done in not by Fowler specifically but the fruits of his failures as a leader blossoming into several parallel disasters of which Waymo was probably the major major fiasco of the bunch.
Susan’s blog was a match; internal issues (entitlement that made something like Levandowsky thinkable) and the tension they created (among the dwindling number of female employees for instance) was the increasingly dry underwood. I suspect that, a year later, the same blog post would have had no echo because all the female engineers would have had left at that point.
But only after Waymo became involved, there were rumors of the board moving to push him out.
It would have been nice if her allegations brought him down, but sadly it doesn't seem that way. In other words until investors saw their money potentially going down the drain in a lawsuit with Google, they kind of looked the other way.
Freada & Mitch Kapor (early Uber investors) published their blog post a few days after the Waymo lawsuit was filed. The lawsuit was filed within a week of Fowler's blog post being published. The Kapors' letter was exclusively focused on Kalanick's company culture, public conduct, and gross mismanagement of sexual harassment in Uber.
The Benchmark lawsuit, brought in April, mentions the failure of Kalanick to disclose to the board the risks of the Otto acquisition as the second item of six grievances.
My opinion is that it is unnecessarily cynical to assume that investors didn't care about the company's tolerance of sexual harassment and Kalanick's poor behavior, especially since it was central to their public repudiation of Kalanick.
The only woman on the board then,
Arianna Huffington, who had vowed
that the culture of “brilliant
jerks” must end, had been trying
to help Mr. Kalanick by advising
him to sleep more and meditate.
But he caused another kerfuffle
when he chose to meditate in the
Howso? There are quite a few Ivy League physics grads in the bay.
Uh is that something you can support with facts? She's just an independent person with integrity. I don't see how it has to be a consequence of what you qualify as a "non-traditional background."
For facts I could list people I have known or read about — but that is just anecdata, and my direct observations are not subject to verification. How would one structure a good solid study on integrity, to get solid facts of this kind? The absence of such a methodology does not, unfortunately, mean we don’t have to think hard about people and integrity.
That's not good enough. Please don't post inflammatory comments to HN.
It’s a novel that is SciFi-ish in its construction but actually, it’s more an expose of a general theory of complex systems build by naive agents, stigmergy (coordination by traces).
I know nothing of the interview he’s referring to here, but how is it misogynistic to use your company to get girls? Was he picking up Uber employees or potential hires?
Why are people so worried about going to war with North Korea? There are concentration camps in North Korea. Are South Korean and American lives worth more than the lives of those in concentration camps? The USA tried to create a free Korea during the Korean War and failed because of China and Russia. We need to try again to clean up this mess.
For heaven's sake please don't do this here. It is a poster child of what we don't want: off-topic, political, ideological, generic, inflammatory. Did I miss anything?
Here's a tip: if we end up at "Stalin and Mao" we've reached internet information death. That's one of the black holes whence no thread emerges. If you need to go there, please do it somewhere else.
So I shouldn't talk about this here but you're going to start with me? Please follow your own suggestions. Did I miss anything?
Please refer to the guidelines:
> Be civil. Don't say things you wouldn't say face-to-face. Don't be snarky. Comments should get more civil and substantive, not less, as a topic gets more divisive.
> Here's a tip: if we end up at "Stalin and Mao" we've reached internet information death. That's one of the black holes whence no thread emerges. If you need to go there, please do it somewhere else.
I read books. Here's a tip: Don't be condescending. It violates the rules here.
Meanwhile, even though commenters here are supposed to know the site guidelines, you may not have had any idea that you were doing anything wrong. If so, I can understand how this would be an off-putting way to hear about it.
Conflict with North Korea will be even worse.
No one knows how many people die in North Korean concentration camps every year. But you can be sure that the total number of deaths will increase every year that the Kims are in power. There is no solution but war.
It's less than 70,000 each year, which is how many have died due to the Iraq war. If North Korea deserves war, what does the United States deserve?
There were similar "this is different! It will be easy!" arguments made for Iraq as well, especially when people suggested it could be like Vietnam (in the quagmire sense, not US causalities sense)
Some people think death is better than having to live in North Korea:
The history of USA and Latin America makes this clear.
-The United States propped up the corrupt and vicious right-wing ruler Syngman Rhee, who was responsible for thousands of extrajudicial killings of his political opponents. And also not a real fan of democracy
-His reign of murder and repression created a context in which, Kim Il Sung, by opposing him, could build on his reputation as an Anti-Japanese occupation guerilla to become a populist hero.
-Who, in the imperial conquest by proxy battle known as the Cold War, then became the Chinese and Soviet’s man in the Korean Peninsula.
So neither side really fighting for or against the spread of democracy. Just their own interests. And everything is still a mess as a result!
In fact, South Korea continued to be ruled by repressive dictatorships until 1987:
Because ambivalence and good measure doesn't seem to be trendy anymore. This applies to other subjects, sadly.
If you've ever been the subject of an interview or two, there's a decent chance you've had the common experience of not being presented as you expected. Experienced folks know how to basically tell journalists what words to write because journalists otherwise put all sorts of strange things and misinterpretations in.
You certainly can't put the style and overall presentation of the article on her in this case. Being interviewed doesn't mean you chose to present yourself the way the journalist ends up doing.
The interviewer and interviewee have the same core understanding: describe stuff about the person relevant to the human-interest angle about the interviewee.
What happens is as an interviewee is that you sit down with an interviewer and talk to them like you would meeting anyone, tell them about yourself and how you came to be involved in whatever the interesting thing that led to the interview. Then, you read the article in surprise about how they put some weird spin on a random little side-note or anecdote or made a connection between two things you said that aren't really connected. And it becomes obvious that they did those things because they actually don't know you at all and are grasping at telling an in-depth story about someone they just met and knew nothing about really.
Go ask anyone who's been interviewed this way. You'll find it common that the published article presented things in ways the interviewee thinks are weird, inaccurate, just confused or out of proportion.
The only real point is: don't assume the interviewee has any responsibility or desire for promoting themselves in the style of the article. That's not likely the case, even if it happens sometimes.
Lets see what happens.
The patriarchy is routinely responsible for despicable outcomes.
Right now, many potential customers have permanently associated Uber with sexual harassment. This is far more of an existential threat to Uber than a $1B lawsuit.