If you are a developer working at Uber these days, there’s a good chance your friends are imploring you to quit the company – publicly on Twitter, privately on Facebook, or whenever you talk to them.
People in Silicon Valley can’t stop talking about the “toxic culture” at Uber after a former engineer, Susan Fowler, published a blog post a couple of weeks ago saying that she was sexually harassed and that when she reported the situation, HR penalized her.
After Fowler came forward, Uber launched an investigation, run by former US Attorney General Eric Holder, into its workplace. That team is getting plenty of fodder for investigation.
Since then, two more allegations of sexual harassment at Uber have surfaced. One was from someone who did not disclose her name, but described details about herself, the male boss she says harassed her, and Uber’s culture. The other was from a woman who said her female boss made disparaging remarks about the tank top she wore to work and harangued her in other ways.
On top of that, Fowler has said that the company has hired another law firm to investigate her and believes she may soon be the subject of a “smear campaign,” according to her tweets. Uber denies this – a representative told Business Insider that this second law firm reports to Holder and “they are investigating Susan’s claims, not Susan personally.”
On Friday, The New York Times’ Mike Isaac published a story about a secret program called “Greyball” in which Uber refused service (and provided fake data) to people requesting rides if Uber suspected those people of being undercover law enforcement or working for competitors.
All this comes on top of many other scandals over the years.
The hashtag #DeleteUber went viral in late January over Uber’s handling of the protests of President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration and the related taxi-driver strike. There was outrage over its surge-pricing tactics. Even before that, there were allegations that Uber employees used a tool called “God View” to spy on customers’ activities. (Uber settled an investigation and paid a $20,000 fine.)
Plus, there was a scandal over an Uber executive’s offhand suggestion that the company should dig up dirt on the personal life of a female journalist who criticized the company.
And there have been ongoing complaints about the company’s treatment of its drivers, including a recent incident, caught on video, in which Uber CEO Travis Kalanick argued with a driver, leading to a public apology from Kalanick.
Now, many of the people who make up the Valley’s engine – its engineers, programmers, and developers – have dubbed the company so toxic that they want their colleagues to stop working there and helping it.
This is a serious concern for many developers. As Business Insider previously reported, programmers are routinely asked to do unethical and sometimes illegal things at all sorts of companies. There’s a movement underfoot for developers to self-regulate to protect themselves. But short of that, their reputations as ethical and honorable people come in large part from their résumés. In Silicon Valley, the “mission” that your company works on is as important to your career as the technical skills that you possess.
A year or two ago, Uber was viewed as the quintessential example of how tech could change the world, and working there was a badge of honor. But the longer employees stay, the more their reputations could be affected by the company’s public missteps.
There are reports of more Uber employees sending out their résumés, although an Uber representative says the company has “not seen attrition rates above normal.”
Still, here are a few public tweets of people pressuring Uber employees to quit:
— Daniel Tunkelang (@dtunkelang) March 2, 2017
If you’re an engineer working at Uber, you better have a GREAT reason for why you haven’t started looking for a new job by now.
— Jeff Watkins (@jeffwatkins) March 4, 2017
The truth is: It’s probably TOO late to leave without a stain on your character. You should start thinking of rehabilitation.
— Jeff Watkins (@jeffwatkins) March 4, 2017
On the plus side the best engineer I’ve ever worked with is job hunting, was considering Uber, & now wouldn’t go near them w/ 10 foot poll..
— Alison Stanton (@alison985) February 24, 2017
a friend of mine has an Uber offer in hand and will pass on it, even though the pay is way above other offers.
— Spike Brehm (@spikebrehm) February 28, 2017