Early this week, Emil Michael, senior vice president at Uber (pictured left), proposed to “dig up dirt” and expose personal details of journalists who criticized the company.
“Nobody would know it was us,” he mistakenly stated at an event filled with journalists Monday evening, somehow thinking it would be off the record. Michael was specifically referring to Sarah Lacy, the editor-in-chief of an online publication in Silicon Valley, who recently condemned Uber’s demeaning advertising and questionable safety procedures.
It doesn’t take much to realize that threatening a journalist is a big mistake. This is something Uber learned the hard way as a storm of angry respondents took to twitter, many swearing never to use their app again, after Buzzfeed broke the story.
Uber CEO and founder Travis Kalanick sent a series of tweets Tuesday morning apologizing for Michael’s “terrible” comments, which showed “a lack of leadership, a lack of humanity.” That being said, Emil Michael has not been fired.
In response, Lacy followed up a piece on her site about “how far Uber will go to silence journalists and attack women.” Michael has since apologized to Lacy himself.
Between this, and Uber’s previous disasters, a few apologies may not be enough to repair their reputation. Words are easy, however, consumers are demanding Uber puts its $18 billion where its mouth is, and hold Michael responsible.
In this day and age, the threat to discretion is only a tweet away. If something seems like a bad idea, don’t say it, especially when surrounded by journalists. No conversation is ever off the record. And as for Michael, everyone knows it was you.
How do you think Uber should have reacted to Michael’s statement? Should they fire him? Let us know in the comments below!