back to article Uber CEO compares pedestrian death to murder of Saudi journalist, saying all should be forgiven

Two years ago, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi was brought in to help the company recover from a long series of ethical and moral lapses. But based on an interview this week, it seems the company’s culture may be rubbing off on him more than he is impacting it. Pressed on the issue of the Saudi Arabian government’s investment in …

  1. Garymrrsn

    No Humanity Amongst the Powerful

    At least he wasn't stupid enough to express his inhumanity in a book like a certain US presidential offspring.

    Arlington cemetery dead remind Trump Jr of his father's 'sacrifices' - BBC News

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: No Humanity Amongst the Powerful

      His dad was in the KKK!

  2. chivo243 Silver badge
    Terminator

    C.E.O.siopath

    It's a thing, really. I've seen a few.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: C.E.O.siopath

      Was just about to say, that test sounds like it fits checks out for a certain founder of a certain Manchester hosting provider

  3. macjules Silver badge

    He then argued that everyone should be forgiven.

    He then argued that everyone should be forgiven, and defended the Saudi government’s investment in Uber.

    Luckily in Tempe, AZ the Über self-driving cars do not appear to have instant body-disposal devices as Saudi Arabian embassies seem to possess. I am sure that this must be an oversight to be shortly corrected.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: He then argued that everyone should be forgiven.

      " instant body-disposal devices"

      That'll be the new upcoming front loader shovel and a hopper in the back.

      Soylent Green anybody?

      1. Flywheel Silver badge

        Re: He then argued that everyone should be forgiven.

        That's scary! I'm reading this on a Tuesday, which is, in fact, Soylent Green Day!

        1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

          Re: He then argued that everyone should be forgiven.

          Curious, I looked it up - apparently it is April 1!

    2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: He then argued that everyone should be forgiven.

      Luckily in Tempe, AZ the Über self-driving cars do not appear to have instant body-disposal devices..

      No need. Premium account holders can arrange for the body to be delivered to a disposal site of their choice. In-car services would require more downtime for cleaning things other than data, and reduce profitability.

      Now, a question from CNN..

    3. vtcodger Silver badge

      Re: He then argued that everyone should be forgiven.

      Uber is all about the Gig Economy. They probably have one or more local drug cartels on call for body disposal gigs.

      1. phuzz Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: He then argued that everyone should be forgiven.

        Surely the drug cartels would be the customers of those services? What with them being the ones with money, and also in need of such services?

        The providers would be any poor shmuck on a minimum wage, who gets a five minute training course in biowaste disposal (which they're charged for) and has to haul the corpses in their own car, perhaps while dropping the kids off at school because taking time off to do that would otherwise eat into the pittance they're given, that is laughingly called a 'wage'.

        All while the Uber execs insist that it's not the companies fault that bodies are being dumped in parks, it's instead the actions of "a few independent contractors", who had Uber stickers on their car, and on their corporate branded clothes, and on their pittance cheques, as it's certainly not the exec's fault that their algorithms gave their modern-day-serfs only a couple of minutes between corpse pickups, on a route that took them right by a public park...

        1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

          Re: He then argued that everyone should be forgiven.

          Many companies start off on one track, but having developed a particular expertise (Occado anyone) shft their business model if they don't spin it off.

  4. JohnFen Silver badge

    It's not unexpected, though

    "an extraordinary indication of the continued lack or morals or ethics at the ride-hailing company."

    Indeed. Although Uber hasn't really given any other evidence that they've transformed into a company that operates legally and ethically, so this is not as shocking as it probably should be.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: It's not unexpected, though

      "Ethics, that's somewhere in England, correct?"

      1. Fungus Bob Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: It's not unexpected, though

        THUMWHERE, THUMWHERE! Be conthithtent with the lithp!

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: It's not unexpected, though

          Be conthithtent with the lithp!

          Igor? That you?

          1. STOP_FORTH
            Boffin

            Re: It's not unexpected, though

            Yeth Mathter!

            (Icon - Marty Feldman eyes)

            1. chivo243 Silver badge

              Re: It's not unexpected, though

              Freshly Dead?

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: It's not unexpected, though

                I'm not dead! I'm still alive!

      2. Jonathon Green
        Devil

        Ethics...

        ...it’s not *just* next to Suffolk...

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Ethics...

          No, when you add a bit on the end to make Ethical it's call Suffolks.

  5. veti Silver badge

    Everyone likes to hate on Uber

    But how many of us are still holding out against all of their apps?

    If everyone who claimed to hate their ethics stopped using their services, Uber's shares would not be going up.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      But how many of us are still holding out against all of their apps?

      At least one - me. I started to read their T&C's ...

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: But how many of us are still holding out against all of their apps?

        Indeed, holding out against all of their apps simply by not having a smartphone.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: But how many of us are still holding out against all of their apps?

        "At least one - me. I started to read their T&C's ..."

        Will you make a final decision when you finish?

      3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: But how many of us are still holding out against all of their apps?

        I was never tempted to use any of their services even without reading the T&Cs. I am not a fan, or supporter, of the gig economy.

    2. Oengus Silver badge

      Re: Everyone likes to hate on Uber

      I, for one, refuse to install Uber on my devices and actively talk against people using Uber or Uber Eats. I also don't use any of the "disruptional" apps unless there is no choice e.g. getting the equivalent of a taxi in some cities in India; and even then I didn't use Uber because there were alternatives.

    3. WolfFan Silver badge

      Re: Everyone likes to hate on Uber

      I don’t have any apps from Uber.

      1. chivo243 Silver badge

        Re: Everyone likes to hate on Uber

        Never had the apps, never been Uber Lyfted anywhere, anytime... I'm just lucky I don't need such a service. People who have little to no choice keep the beast alive.

    4. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Everyone likes to hate on Uber

      "But how many of us are still holding out against all of their apps?"

      I don't use Uber or Lyft in my town, because the normal taxi services are superior in every way except price. I avoid using Uber when I'm out of town as well, because they're an egregiously awful company.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Everyone likes to hate on Uber

        I don't use Uber or Lyft in my town

        I don't either. Because I have a car and don't live in a major conurbation..

        (And, on the very rare occasion the I use a taxi, I use a black cab since they, at least, generally know where they are going and have some sort of background checks)

    5. sbt Silver badge
      Stop

      how many of us are still holding out

      Based on the replies here, some, but not enough. I used 'em once in the early days when they were handing out $20 discount cards. Not after the Travis scandal broke. And then the lies about driver earnings.

      Taxis here are costly and service not great, so just avoid them where I can.

      Meanwhile, anyone need a CEO? It looks like I may be partially qualified.

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: how many of us are still holding out

        "It looks like I may be partially qualified."

        Are you sure? It sounds suspiciously like you might actually have a conscience, and that would make you a bad investment risk.

        1. sbt Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Well, I did say partially

          It was more the bit about "A lack of typical marked reactions to traumatic or otherwise stress-inducing events".

    6. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Everyone likes to hate on Uber

      Given that they were banned here for operating illegally and then went underground... No, I've no time for Uber. Oh, and it should be Über, if they are trying to say they are better than taxis...

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Everyone likes to hate on Uber

        They've set up a German HQ here in Düsseldorf, though they also have something in Berlin, inevitably, but I can't remember seeing any driving around. There were some ads for a while.

        Seeing as ordering a taxi here has for years been as difficult as dialing 33333 or 99999, it's difficult to see what they really bring to the party. And now we have the Taxi Deutschland app for location-based pick-ups. Just checked the price calculator and it's no cheaper than using a normal cab. Then again Germany doesn't have the same restrictive practices for taxis as the UK or the US do.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Re: Everyone likes to hate on Uber

          No, and they do have the requirement that drivers for hire (i.e. Uber drivers, as well as taxi drivers) must have a professional driving license - not a taxi license, but a driving license with extra requirements to prove you are safe to drive passengers around.

          Uber were not checking that their drivers had a valid professional driving license - and without that, you can't get commercial insurance, only private insurance, which is null and void if you are using the vehicle to ferry around passengers for remuneration (you can accept, at most, recompense for their share of the petrol used on the trip, if you carry passengers privately).

          The courts banned them for a while, but I haven't heard any news that they are back on the "mean streets" of Germany. But, as you say, the taxi situation is a lot different here and more tightly controlled, from a safety and fraud aspect, than in some countries, I just don't see any reason why I would ever consider an Uber ride.

        2. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: Everyone likes to hate on Uber

          In the UK, there are restrictions for taxis, which are allowed to pick people up on the street or at taxi ranks, but not so much for minicabs which have to be pre-booked. Most of them can be booked via apps, and Über's app was by no means the first. There were even some of them around 15 years ago for Windows Phone before the iPhone was a thing.

    7. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Everyone likes to hate on Uber

      Never been anywhere near them. Saw them as evil bastards as soon as I heard about them.

    8. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      Re: Everyone likes to hate on Uber

      @Veti

      I've never used an Uber service, and never will. The food delivery services (Uber, Deliveroo) are a frikking bane, cycling the wrong way along one way streets, onto roads from footpaths without looking, on footpaths and pedestrianised areas, and they rarely have bike lights.

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: Everyone likes to hate on Uber

        The food delivery services (Uber, Deliveroo) are a frikking bane, cycling the wrong way along one way streets, onto roads from footpaths without looking, on footpaths and pedestrianised areas, and..

        .. a well-placed crow-bar brings a whole new experience to 'dining out'*. Especially in & around university areas where they'd be an unlit hazard, instead of being a convenient 'meals-on-wheels' service.

        *Kidding, but I guess an ethical Uber might have no-go areas for food deliveries due to cyclists meating cyclopaths or summink.. Actually, they probably don't given they probably contractually disclaim any liability for their non-employees being eaten.

    9. iron Silver badge

      Re: Everyone likes to hate on Uber

      I have never now, nor will I ever in the future, used Uber or any of their subsidiaries like Uber Eats.

      I prefer a taxi with a licensed and employed driver.

    10. BigSLitleP Silver badge

      Re: Everyone likes to hate on Uber

      Haven't used them and never will

    11. Sherrie Ludwig

      Re: Everyone likes to hate on Uber

      "If everyone who claimed to hate their ethics stopped using their services, Uber's shares would not be going up."

      Never have, never will.

      1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

        Re: Everyone likes to hate on Uber

        They did once - but investors are getting wise, just leaving some poor deluded individuals holding the can.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    so cold like a robot on pluto oooo

    He said something in the moment he truly believes, but realises now because other humans are being weird about it that he shouldn't have done and thus believes [whatever makes the mob shut up and leave you alone when they think you think this]. He is probably a stone cold psycho and assesses zero value to the life of most humans beyond their use as economic data points and the pedestrian/journo deaths likely triggered some inconvenient/unhelpful to the project/caused unnecessary publicity/in hindsight would have not ordered it done *that* way thoughts...

  7. Mark 85 Silver badge

    He makes an intersting argument which is bogus.

    Perhaps someone should ask him "if he was hit by a car and killed or hacked up in an embassy, would that still be ok?".

    1. Schultz
      WTF?

      Re: He makes an intersting argument which is bogus.

      Why should he worry about being hacked up in an embassy? He clearly positioned himself on the right^X^X^X safe side of that issue and will have earned all the goodwill of the relevant Leadership for his troubles.

      As for being run over, that's why you drive a 3 ton company limousine. Let's see who runs over whom!

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Pirate

        Re: He makes an intersting argument which is bogus.

        As for being run over, that's why you drive a 3 ton company limousine. Let's see who runs over whom!

        Limo's have a tendency to get stuck on railway crossings.

        1. joeW Silver badge

          Re: He makes an intersting argument which is bogus.

          We can but hope.

        2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: He makes an intersting argument which is bogus.

          stuck on railway crossings

          Unlike motorbikes. Which was a Very Good Thing(TM) when I came across a barrier-less rail crossing in Germany. I wondered why all the cars were stopped..

          Fortunately, the rails were at 90 degrees to my direction of travel so a hasty application of throttle didn't throw me off.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: He makes an intersting argument which is bogus.

            "Unlike motorbikes. Which was a Very Good Thing(TM) when I came across a barrier-less rail crossing in Germany. I wondered why all the cars were stopped.."

            Did that "wonder" not include "maybe something's up, I should slow down unlit I figure out what is"? I suppose you could always have shouted SMIDSY at the train train driver.

      2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: He makes an intersting argument which is bogus.

        Depends on the embassy… if he goes around waving an MBS poster around, he might not find it so fun in Turkey, Qatar or Iran.

      3. veti Silver badge

        Re: He makes an intersting argument which is bogus.

        Leadership changes. Today's goodwill is tomorrow's grudge.

  8. Marketing Hack Silver badge

    So the interview combined two old dictums

    "Boys will be boys" plus "Money talks".

    1. oiseau Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: So the interview combined two old dictums

      Hello:

      "Boys will be boys" plus "Money talks".

      Hmmm ...

      No.

      That would be if the interview was of a normal one with a normal person being interviewed.

      And I say this with the knowledge that normal is just a statistical term.

      This one reeks of "Looks like an asshole, walks like an asshole, talks like an asshole, thinks like an asshole? Then he's undoubtedly an asshole and will always be an asshole."

      O.

    2. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      Re: So the interview combined two old dictums

      So the interview combined two old dicktums

      TFTFY

  9. Winkypop Silver badge
    Alert

    Saudi Arabia and Uber

    Made for each other.

    Best avoided at all costs.

  10. MacroRodent Silver badge

    What really matters

    The last line: "Uber’s share price went up 0.4 per cent today. "

    So it's all OK then.

    </sarcasm>

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: What really matters

      "Uber’s share price went up 0.4 per cent today. "

      Remember, the stock market is (at best) true neutral in a D&D sense. There are undoubtedly good-aligned investors and companies but I suspect they are outnumbered by the N or CE types..

    2. phuzz Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: What really matters

      That is a fitting, (if pitch black), punchline

  11. Jason Hindle

    That Quick Test...

    Seems to describe a lot of people in the public eye (some senior politicians in particular).

  12. Paul 195
    WTF?

    Simply awful

    Uber - the only tech company who make Facebook look good by comparison. Is Zuckerberg paying them to run interference?

    1. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Simply awful

      Perhaps Uber is "secretly" set up and owned by Facebook? The amount of data they collect is Facebook's ultimate dream.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Don't be ridiculous

        The amount of data collected by Facebook is several orders of magnitude greater than Uber gets.

        Facebook has 15 datacenters and has spent a billion dollars on the technology. You don't make that many without the data that they need to store.

        Uber, on the other hand, has not built any datacenters, and spends less than $250 million annually on hosted equipment.

        It is therefor obvious that Facebook is getting more data than Uber.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Don't be ridiculous

          Interestingly, the recently departed exec in charge of Data Centres at Uber, published, as his last post (very inflated ego!), why he was leaving and what he was going to do next.

          The timing must have been good for him, because Uber had just IPO'd, so I guess he made stacks of money.

          Anyway, in his LinkedIn post he waxed lyrical about all his achievements (as you do), and then boasted that he'd set up the Infrastructure Masons to support the Data Centre industry and to advance charitable efforts to increase diversity in the tech sector - one of the chief beneficiaries, he informed us, is his daughter's charity (yes, the one she set up and runs). I do marvel at all those corporate idiots who are bankrolling this flagrant nepotism, but then, the chance to hobnob with the likes of Joe Kava (Google) and Christian Belady (Microsoft) et al must be too good to pass up...

  13. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge

    But the fact that Uber CEO’s first instinct was to defend against the murder of a journalist in order to avoid upsetting an investor, and then repeatedly failed to recognize the seriousness of the situation - calling it first a “mistake” and then a “serious mistake” - is an extraordinary indication of the continued lack or morals or ethics at the ride-hailing company..

    There you go. Much better.

  14. big_D Silver badge

    Premeditated

    Sorry, neither was a mistake. Both are pre-meditated acts.

    The software on the Uber car was demonstrably not ready to be tested on real roads, as was seen last week in the logs in the NTSB report. It is premeditation to take a system you know can't cope with real-life situations and put it on real roads.

    As to the huge political furore around the Kashoggi murder, there isn't much more to say there, it was front page news for a couple of weeks and nearly everybody has condemned the act, you can't accidentally assassinate someone.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Re: Premeditated

      you can't accidentally assassinate someone.

      Unless it's 'accidental', although that requires a good amount of planning. Simply having someone walk into your embassy, then exit via the back door and disassembled is not at that level. At all.

    2. grimmriffer

      Re: Premeditated

      The staggering thing with the car crash is not the failure to recognise a jay walker.

      The staggering thing is the assumption that when there's an unknown object in the road you should just keep driving at it.

      1. Killfalcon Silver badge

        Re: Premeditated

        By my reading of the logs, the system also incorrectly estimated the object's path and thought it wasn't going to get in the way (until it was far too late).

        If I had to wildly hypothesise: the repeated re-categorisation of the object screwed up it's trajectory analysis, and *that* happened because, as you said, it wasn't trained around people crossing roads away from pedestrian crossings.

        That's still mind-blowingly bad planning. This is pretty much negligent homicide.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He is, with out doubt...

    Uber stupid!

    1. skeptical i
      Devil

      Re: He is, with out doubt...

      ... a güber, then?

  16. Electronics'R'Us Bronze badge
    Stop

    Not all those with psychopathic traits are dysfunctional

    I am not trying to defend this particular person (who appears to be somewhat of a dysfunctional psychopath) but the traits themselves are no predictor of 'bad' behaviour (although the typical CEO search certainly seems to focus on those who do exhibit such behaviour).

    The various traits described are certainly appropriate, but a key is whether the person can control those traits based on the situation.

    Suggested reading The good Psychopath's guide to success

  17. ibmalone Silver badge
    Terminator

    wrong test

    It's not the psychopath test you want, it's the Voight-Kampff test.

  18. a pressbutton Silver badge

    Uber Press Release

    Clearly our self driving algorithm needs a tweak. The car stopped after striking the pedestrian.

    In future Uber will strive to provide the best possible service to it's customers.

    Any journey delay is of course completely unacceptable and we apologize for that unreservedly

    Look out for our new upcoming sharing service for the time - pressured:

    SideWalkShare (tm) where Uber and legacy pedestrains have the opportunity to share the pavement.

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: Uber Press Release

      Clearly our self driving algorithm needs a tweak. The car stopped after striking the pedestrian.

      in order to identify them and invoice them for the 8 feet they were transported by our Ubercab. Future software updates will automatically be able to deduct fares from external passenger's smartphone wallets, based on their precise trajectory and distance travelled from point of pick-up to landing.

  19. Tom 7 Silver badge

    When you're in a hole

    and you've got a shit load of dosh you can go all out for the full opencast mine while dumping the shit on a barrier reef!

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