TIMELINE: Uber’s woes leading up to Travis Kalanick’s resignation

Gelo Gonzales
TIMELINE: Uber’s woes leading up to Travis Kalanick’s resignation
Uber's protracted hard times hit a climax with its CEO and co-founder's resignation. Here's a list of the big issues the company has faced since 2013.

MANILA, Philippines – Uber CEO Travis Kalanick resigned on Tuesday, June 20, 2017 (US time), amid pressure from its investors – a culmination of a wild string of incidents that brought to light Uber issues relating to company culture, sexism, corporate espionage, stolen technologies, shady internal tools, and its treatment of drivers, among others.

We round all of these up in our timeline below of Uber’s troubles leading up to resignation of its head honcho. Included are several incidents involving the Philippines:

August 16, 2013 – A group of Uber drivers in the US file a class-action lawsuit, claiming that their status as independent contractors instead of official employees is a misclassification – a status that leaves them bereft of full-time employee benefits. The case is ongoing as of June 2017. 

December 2013 – An Uber driver hits a family on the road, killing a young girl and seriously injuring her mother and brother. Uber is sued by the family, but the company fights back on the basis that the driver wasn’t officially booked at the time of the incident, meaning he technically wasn’t an Uber driver during that period.  

January 2014 – Techcrunch and Valleywag confirm that some Uber employees intentionally booked thousands of rides from competing ride-sharing services – only to cancel them and mess with their operations. 

August 2014 – The Verge exposes an Uber secret project called Operation SLOG designed to spy on, and lure drivers away from competitor Lyft. 

October 2014 – Uber’s espionage on riders is exposed by Forbes, which discovered their “God View” and “Creepy Stalker View,” which tracked the trip of users.

November 2014 – Former Uber senior vice president, Emil Michael, suggests that the company hire researchers and journalists to dig up dirt from the lives of its critics. He says it at a private dinner, suggesting a budget of 1 million dollars. BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith uncovered the incident, and Michael is forced to apologize.

February 2016 – An Uber driver is accused of killing 6 in a shooting spree in the US. Uber’s background check process is questioned, compounded by a 2014 rape incident in India involving an Uber driver. The driver has been sentenced to life in prison. In the Philippines, a woman was allegedly raped by an Uber driver on July 27; Uber Philippines removed the driver from their platform, identified as Xstian Karlou John Marie, after the incident. (READ: Uber, LTFRB investigating alleged rape of passenger)

December 2016 – The Philippines’ Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) receives compaints about surge prices going up to P28,000 for ride-sharing companies Uber Philippines and competitor Grab.
The two receive a suspension and accreditation cancellation warning from the LTFRB, telling them “not to take advantage of the holiday season as a reason to unreasonably surge their respective rates.”
January 2017 – #DeleteUber goes viral as users claim that the company attempted to profit from a taxi strike in New York arising from US President Donald Trump’s immigration ban. (READ: Uber chief quits Trump advisory group after uproar)
January 2017 – Uber pays US government $20 million to settle a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) complaint that the company misled drivers about potential earnings at Uber.
February 19, 2017 – Former Uber engineer Susan Fowler alleges sexual harassment and sexism at the firm in a blog post published on February 19. (READ: Uber launches ‘urgent’ sexual harassment investigation)
February 20, 2017 – Former US attorney general Eric Holder is brought in by Uber to assess the company’s work culture. The report would come out on June 13, 2017, recommending the limitation of Kalanick’s responsibilities and the creation of an oversight committee.
February 23, 2017 – Google parent company Alphabet files a lawsuit claiming that Uber’s self-driving vehicle unit, Otto, stole technology from Waymo, an Alphabet subsidiary. As of May 2017, Recode reports that Uber could be facing criminal charges over the claims.
February 27, 2017 – Uber Philippines draws flak for a tweet widely seen as insensitive in light of an upcoming strike by jeepney operators and drivers. The ride-hailing company tweeted: “Are you affected by the activities tomorrow? Don’t worry, new Uber users can get 2 free trips worth PHP500 each. Valid only on Feb 27.”
February 28, 2017 – Travis Kalanick asks Uber senior vice president Amit Singhal to leave after Singhal failed to disclose a sexual harassment allegation at former employer, Google, during the hiring process.
March 1, 2017 – Bloomberg publishes a video of Kalanick lashing out with expletives at an Uber driver. 
March 3, 2017 – Uber acknowledges the use of a secret software called “Greyball” that steered drivers away from trouble, including sting operations by authorities. Uber makes the admission after the tool was reported by The New York Times.
March 19, 2017 – Uber president Jeff Jones quits, citing differences in “beliefs and approach to leadership.”
March 24, 2017 – The Information reports that Kalanick and 4 other employees visited a karaoke bar in South Korea known for offering escort services 3 years ago. A female employee who was part of the trip reported and complained about the incident to human resources.
June 6, 2017 – 20 Uber employees are fired, the aftermath of an investigation by the law firm Perkins Coie which looked at 215 staff complaints going back to 2012.
June 7, 2017 – Uber fires executive Eric Alexander, who reportedly obtained the private medical records of the Uber driver rape victim in India in 2014, and showed them to Kalanick and then-senior VP Emil Michael. The 26-year-old victim sued Uber for invasion of privacy.
June 12, 2017 – Emil Michael, Uber’s longtime chief business officer leaves the company.
June 13, 2017 – Kalanick takes an indefinite leave of absence. According to a company-wide email he sent out, it was to grieve his mother, who had died in a boating accident in late May. 
OUT. A picture taken on January 18, 2015 shows Travis Kalanick, co-founder of Uber, in Munich, Germany. Photo by Tobias Hase/AFP
June 13, 2017 – Uber director David Bonderman resigns from the company’s board following a comment seen as offensive to women made at an Uber staff meeeting.
The comment in question was a response to board member Arianna Huffington’s statement on having more women on Uber’s board of directors. “There’s a lot of data that shows when there’s one woman on the board, it’s much more likely that there will be a second woman on the board,” Huffington said. Bonderman replied: “Actually, what it shows is that it’s much more likely to be more talking.”
June 21, 2017 – CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick resigns.
Kalanick will remain on the company’s board of directors. – Rappler.com

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Gelo Gonzales

Gelo Gonzales is Rappler’s technology editor. He covers consumer electronics, social media, emerging tech, and video games.