Jan 13, 2016 ยท 3 minutes

True story: After publishing yesterday’s issue, Paul and I looked at each other and agreed we weren’t going to write anything about Uber today.  

What’s more, we agreed: Let’s write something that couldn’t be summed up by a 13-year-old version of ourselves Tweeting “I CAN’T EVEN!” Let’s write some good news!

And then it’s like the world just trolled us for the rest of the day, bombarding us with story after negative story about the world’s most badly behaving tech company.

First up:

The Information published leaked Uber financials and -- for once-- that turned into a critical story. Yes, Uber is growing at at an increased pace, but it’s also losing absolutely shit loads of money. From Forbes’ rewrite of the story (sorry, if the Information had unlocks, I’d quote them directly):

Overall, Uber remains massively unprofitable as of the data shown in these documents. GAAP losses (net revenue minus cost of revenue, operating expenses and other costs) totaled $671.4 million in 2014. Those losses expanded to $987.2 million in the first half of 2015.


And then Fortune hit with the heartwarming story of an Uber driver who left a woman in labor stranded on the sidewalk in Manhattan because he didn’t want her to mess up his car. Worse, the driver still charged her for the cancelled ride. When Travis Kalanick wonders out loud when every car on the road will be an Uber, this is one of many reasons that’d be a horrible reality. It’s as if Uber holds weekly contests for new ways it can treat women like crap. The money quote came from the woman’s husband:

“I don’t blame Uber for one driver’s poor actions, since bad apples can appear in any organization, but I do think that when a company has a culture of bullying their way past laws and regulations, as Uber seems to do, they begin to think they can act with impunity in anything,” said Lee.


And then came this headline from TechCrunch: “Uber Might Owe Tens Of Thousands Of California Passengers $1.8 Million In Class Action Lawsuit” Uh huh.

And then the Verge wrote about Uber opening up its API to shove content and deals and ads in your face while you sit in the back of a car. The article included this breathtaking piece of cosmic trolling:

Uber says it's aware that with great power comes great responsibility, which is why the company claims that users will be in complete control.

Oh. Come. On.

“Uber [is] aware that with great power comes great responsibility”?! Like, say, not slut-shaming female riders who get assaulted to the press, not using a seemingly unending flow of capital to threaten journalists, abuse passenger data, hire dangerous political operatives or outright buy favorable laws throughout state legislatures. (All confirmed, or not denied, by the company -- all things no one at Uber got fired for.)

Our desire to have just one day without publishing a story about Uber came not from any dereliction of duty. It came after we published two damning stories yesterday: One on how Didi Kuaidi has surpassed Uber as the world’s largest ride sharing company and one on Uber’s increasingly abusive relationship with drivers. It seems part of those exciting rate cuts for consumers that the company recently announced mean paying drivers in some markets as low as $.30 per mile. Uber’s defense? Work harder, and you’ll make it up in volume because low prices mean more people will ride! Meantime, the same math doesn’t apply to Uber, which has upped the cut it is taking on each ride.

Rather, we hoped that just 24 short hours could pass without Uber or its drivers being embroiled in something awful. Given this is a company into whose hands millions of riders put their lives every day, that shouldn’t be too much to ask.

But no. Still the stories keep landing in the press, every day, sometimes two or three at a time.

Is this what Uber’s 2016 is gonna look like? If so, they’re gonna need to increase their “smearing journalists to stop bad press”  budget. A million dollars just ain’t gonna cut it.