Tag Archives: Uber

A Series of Unfortunate Events: How Uber Story By Mack Jastle

Controversy….Uber is once again in the public crosshairs after a recent account describes rampant favoritism and sexism within the management structure. Photo-by: Telhelka
Controversy….Uber is once again in the public crosshairs after a recent account describes rampant favoritism and sexism within the management structure. Photo-by: Telhelka

It’s been a rough few months for Uber.  From the #DeleteUber that went trending January in response to a perceived strike break, to mounting concerns over invasive privacy settings and user tracking, to perceived support for President Trump’s travel ban forcing CEO Travis Kalanick to resign from the President’s security council, the company has faced near constant anger and outrage from both users of the app and the media itself.

Recent allegations of sexism and sexual harassment within the company’s upper echelons have revitalized the growing discontent with Uber and its business practices, and prompted several other former software engineers from Uber to speak out.  Suddenly, just as #DeleteUber was on death’s door, it was given new life.0o

The genesis for these new accusations is an account by a former software engineer for the company, Susan Fowler, who worked in Uber’s software engineering department as a software reliability engineer from November 2015 to December 2016.  Titled: “Reflecting On One Very, Very Strange Year At Uber,” and written on Fowler’s personal blog, the post describes widespread sexism and chaos within the organization, and outlines a meritocracy where managers and supervisors routinely undermined their superiors in an attempt to take their job and curry favor with the organization.

Rough Year…Uber’s 2017 has been very tough, with the hashtag #DeleteUber permeating the company for the last several weeks. Photo-by: Cato Institute
Rough Year…Uber’s 2017 has been very tough, with the hashtag #DeleteUber permeating the company for the last several weeks. Photo-by: Cato Institute

Fowler writes that on her first official day working for the company, she was propositioned by her manager for sex over the company chat.  When she screen-shotted the messages and reported him to the human resources department, she was told that he was a “high performer” on his performance reviews, and they didn’t ‘feel comfortable punishing him for what was probably just an innocent mistake on his part.’  Fowler was told that since it was the manager’s first offense, they didn’t want to ruin his career by putting it on his record.    HR then gave Fowler an ultimatum; either she transfer teams and never see the manager again, or stay on the team and likely receive a poor performance review from the manager.  When Fowler tried to talk with HR or escalate the situation, she was given the same decision, and was told that it would not be retaliation if she received a negative review because she had been given a choice.

Fowler then transferred to a different team, where she came into contact with other women engineers, some of whom had also encountered the same manager propositioning them, well before Fowler was part of the company.  In short, the HR department had lied to Fowler and the other women, and had allowed this harassment to continue.  Meetings with HR were scheduled by Fowler and a few other women in an attempt to do something about the situation.

In the meeting, the HR representative maintained that the only offense on record was Fowler’s, and that none of the other women had any complaints about him, and thus nothing would change.

Fowler was berated for keeping a record of all the sexist emails and remarks she had received, and was told that sending emails to HR about these issues was unprofessional.

At the time of Fowler joining the company, about 25% of the company’s engineers were female.  Re-calculating the numbers on the day she left reveals that only 3% of the engineers in the company were female.

Uber and its CEO Travis Kalanick have denounced the behavior described in the account, and have launched investigations into the matter.

However, these investigations may be too little, too late.  Uber is still recovering from losing 200,000 users over the perceived strike break, and just when the effects of that calamity have started to fade, these recent allegations make #DeleteUber trend again.

If Uber wants to stay #1 in the rideshare business, it’s going to have a make a real and concentrated effort to distance itself from this kind of behavior, and it has to make it fast.

Otherwise, people will have no trouble catching a Lyft instead.

 

 

 

Uber is Going Automatic Story by Travis Tuttle

Want a ride?.. Uber’s driver-less car prototype. Photo by Business Insider
Want a ride?.. Uber’s driver-less car prototype. Photo by Business Insider

Uber is a successful and well known transportation company that has thousands of drivers that are ready to drive you to wherever you would like to go with a simple app. Although this system is wildly used and generally appreciated, Uber is making transportation more efficient with automatic cars. Because Uber does not know how to build cars, they are starting to design equipment that is compatible with Volvo cars. This equipment includes laser detecting systems, and cameras among other technologies processed by a powerful computer in the trunk. Uber has a small test fleet of driverless cars that are operating as normal Uber cars and driving passengers to their destinations, but they have safety drivers that take notes of the car’s performance as well as being able to take control of the care in an emergency as well as conditions in which the car has trouble processing.

Uber does have competition for the best driverless cars. Google has also been designing automatic cars, although they are still a work in progress as well as all of the other driverless car prototypes. Googles prototypes are limited to 25 miles per hour to avoid serious crashes (they have had minor incidents), and their detecting system can be off by somewhat wide margins. Uber has hired many engineers to design software and technology to guide their cars safely, and efficiently, eventually possibly to the point of a manual car. They map all of the obstacles in their test area including buildings, potholes, and other obstacles, then when the car is driving it uses GPS location to find its location and compare the location view to the corresponding maps to find differences such as pedestrians and other cars to stop for or avoid.

Although this system works fairly well, it has difficulty rendering terrain in some situations. At the moment, with technology being at the level that it is, cars with drivers are probably safer and more efficient, but technology is catching up quickly, and soon driverless cars may replace manual cars altogether. Despite the current technology, Uber wants to get an early start with this promising adaptation, and likely be a major driverless car company perhaps not so far in the future. Driverless cars are probably not quite as safe as normal cars. There have been multiple accidents from all of the driverless car companies except for Uber, likely because they just released their first cars. The most notable incident killed one person.

Even if Driverless cars have lots of glitches and problems, they will likely soon be a new reality despite skepticism from many people. Technology is advancing at a fast rate, and driverless cars may come before people might think.