Despite some rigorous complications we at SnapMunk managed to speak with Travis Kalanick, one of the most controversial figures in business today. After an extensive series of interviews, it seemed that Mr. Kalanick was too confined by the constraints of a traditional interview or female interviewers to make his voice heard. As such, we invited him to write this piece.
Let’s cut straight to the chase: I, and by extension, my company Uber, have had some really bad press in the last few months. We were caught evading authorities and city regulators as we expand into new cities. A video of me needlessly berating a low-level employee went viral. Uber is being sued by a major company for intellectual property theft. And we’ve been shedding executive leadership like crazy.
The problem that seems to dog me the most, however, are reports that I helped build a culture of systemic misogyny at Uber. Well, I am here to tell you that even if this were 100% true, I would have no way of knowing, because I just recently learned what a “woman” was.
I know, I know. It probably sounds a little unbelievable that a 40-year-old billionaire and CEO of a major American corporation would have no concept of what I am now learning are either “women” or “woman” (I’m still not sure which word the language police expect me to be using). But I assure you, it’s completely true. Until this point, I was under the impression that everyone was a man.
I mean—I’m a man. All my friends are men. I only hear the opinions of men. Up until last week, I assumed men were the only ones who coded, designed, developed, managed or debugged software. And it’s not because I didn’t think “woman” couldn’t do it! It’s because I didn’t know “woman” existed.
Now, some of you may be thinking, Travis, that’s ridiculous. You’re a notorious lothario who refers to his ability to bed women on demand as “Boober.” Yes, I know. I did say that to a GQ reporter. And I have had many vigorous heterosexual encounters that I thoroughly enjoyed. But only recently did I learn that the other people involved in these lusty liaisons were not objects and were, in fact, people of a totally new gender! Who knew? I guess a lot of people did. Boy, am I red-faced here.
Life is so weird, you know? You think you have everything figured out, and then a new piece of the puzzle falls into place. My dad once told me that until he was in college, he thought you pronounced the G in the word “phlegm.” He’d heard people say it correctly before. He just never put it together. Well, it looks like the same thing happened to me, but about women! It’s crazy, and it would be kind of laughable if it weren’t so bizarre, and, from what I’m told by people who are more familiar with women than me, “unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance and creating an intimidating, hostile and offensive corporate environment.” Mind blown!
I hope this clears up many of the recent misunderstandings. Take, for instance, the New York Times report that says I was directly contacted by an employee about unaddressed sexual harassment. Of course, I received and reviewed that communication, but what was I supposed to do? I couldn’t even fathom what the problem was in the first place! I mean, come on, think about it. If you don’t know even know what Hooters is, you can’t possibly have an opinion on their wings. (They’re great.)
Really, when you do actually think about it, I’m a victim here too. I’ve been operating at a significant disadvantage for four decades. If only I had known what women were years ago, I could have effectively leveraged so many more resources to enrich myself. The playing field wasn’t fair for me.
I hope this helps explain why it was so easy for me to do things like hire Amit Singhal, even though he left his previous employer, an Uber investor after sexual harassment complaints were made against him that their human resources department found to be credible. To me, that looked like a clean break from an upstanding company by a hardworking employee who was sick of bureaucracy. Until a few days ago, I wasn’t even aware that groping a coworker’s T ’n’ A was taboo because, as I already pointed out, I thought those coworkers were things, like a shot glass or a Blu-ray disc.
How degrading! To them as well as to me! I’m sure glad I learned my lesson and am changing and maturing so quickly.
In hindsight, perhaps my years of open groping and bawdy jokes contributed to a company-wide culture that rewarded male performers while overlooking possible workplace harassment. That’s why I immediately hired Eric Holder to do an internal investigation. I knew he was the right man to get to the bottom of woman’s claims. I would have hired a woman to investigate, but I’m still getting the hang of the more-than-one-gender concept. Besides, I’m not really sure if women, who again are wholly new in concept to me, are even capable of running an investigation. The only female investigator I’ve ever seen was Scully from the X-Files, and she never demonstrated merit. How can you get abducted by aliens and still not believe in aliens? Come on.
Anyway, my point is: I’m sorry, but it isn’t exactly my fault. I just didn’t know! Now that I do, I promise I’ll do better. So there’s no need for me to step down as CEO. Only a pussy would do that, and Travis Kalanick is no pussy.
Feature image courtesy of Techstory.in
Louis is a Chicago-trained writer and comedian with beautiful hair, a pretty good face, and an abundance of modesty. With 10 years in technology and 15 in writing and producing comedy, his work can be read on www.cagematch.org, www.mcsweeneys.net, and numerous dismayed Facebook users’ walls (before being hastily deleted). He currently lives with his similarly gay boyfriend in the dystopian hellscape of Silicon Valley.
Latest posts by Louis Weinstein (see all)
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