'I'm a terrible person': Inside ousted Uber CEO Travis Kalanick's tantrum in a fellow executive's townhouse when he realized it was all over

'I'm a terrible person': Inside ousted Uber CEO Travis Kalanick's tantrum in a fellow executive's townhouse when he realized it was all over

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick dashcam video driver argument


2017 video from an Uber driver shows CEO Travis Kalanick become enraged and yelling.

  • Damning video of Uber's founder Travis Kalanick berating a driver surfaced at the worst possible time for the company.
  • The clip hit the internet just minutes after the team learned the results of a survey that showed consumers already thought the CEO to be a toxic influence on the company.
  • Amid verbal fights with his deputies, Kalanick writhed around on the floor of an executive's San Francisco townhouse, Mike Isaac writes in "Super Pumped," a new book out this week about Uber's first 10 years.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

In 2017, Uber executives huddled in the hallway near a conference room of San Francisco's four-star Le Meridien hotel.

They were there to come up with a game-plan, Mike Isaac writes in "Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber," which was released this week, and it needed to be a good one.

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Not only had the group just seen the results of a damning survey that said "people enjoyed using Uber as a service. But when you brought up Travis Kalanick, customers recoiled, but a video that had just surfaced would became a major piece of Kalanick's fall from grace:

"The four executives huddled around [a] laptop, with Kalanick kneeling on the floor in front of the chair. They watched as a grainy dashcam video began playing. Shot from inside an Uber, the video shows a driver with three passengers: two women and a man, Travis Kalanick, sandwiched in between them in the back seat."

The clip, of Kalanick berating a driver who blamed the executive for lowering pay, spread like wildfire, reaching well beyond Bloomberg onto local TV newscasts around the country as well as Business Insider.


"Some people don't like to take responsibility for their own shit!," Kalanick can be heard shouting on the video.

When Rachel Whetstone, Uber's head of PR at the time, suggested Kalanick stick to Uber's in-house communications team instead of hiring an outside PR firm, Isaac writes, Kalanick went berserk.

"You two aren't strategic or creative enough to help us get out of this situation," he said. The room was silent as Kalanick's insult hung in the air. Whetstone and Hazelbaker had had enough. The two of them stood up, gathered their belongings, and walked out of the room.

Later, around pizza and beer in the San Francisco townhouse of Jill Hazelbaker, now the company's senior VP of marketing, communications and public policy (the one mentioned in the previous quote), morale didn't get much better.

"Meanwhile, Kalanick continued his theatrics, writhing around on Hazelbaker's carpet. Kalanick kept repeating the same thing over and over: "I'm a terrible person. I'm a terrible person. I'm a terrible person."

Eventually, the team came up with a press statement and apology from Kalanick that was also posted to the company's blog. Four months later, Kalanick would resign.

More from "Super Pumped":

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