Uber has always driven too fast. As it grew from a San Francisco black car service to a global ride-hail behemoth valued at nearly $70bn, the startup appeared to be well served by CEO Travis Kalanick’s disruptive disregard for the rules of the road.
But the unending scandals, missteps, and criminal investigations of the past year have revealed that the leadership behind the wheel at Uber are not so much Dom Toretto from The Fast and the Furious as they are a drunken toddler playing Mario Kart.
Take a ride with us through Uber’s tumultuous 2017, but warning: it’s going to be a rocky ride.
- 19 January 2017
Uber pays $20m to settle a federal inquiry into allegations that the company misled drivers over how much they would earn.
- 28 January 2017
"Surge pricing has been turned off at #JFK Airport" – the @Uber_NYC tweet that sparked #DeleteUber
Uber's decision to lift surge pricing during a New York taxi drivers' work stoppage in protest of the Trump travel ban prompts a viral #DeleteUber campaign that reportedly cost the company hundreds of thousands of accounts.
- 2 February 2017
Under pressure from the #DeleteUber campaign, Travis Kalanick steps down from Donald Trump's economic advisory council.
- February 2017
"Always be hustlin’" – one of Uber's core company values
The former Uber engineer Susan Fowler publishes a blog post with allegations of widespread sexual harassment and gender discrimination at the company. Subsequent news reports describe a “toxic” workplace. Uber launches an investigation into its corporate culture.
- 23 February 2017
“Misappropriating this technology is akin to stealing a secret recipe from a beverage company” – Waymo
Uber is sued by Google’s self-driving car spinoff, Waymo, which accuses it of orchestrating the theft of its autonomous vehicle technology. The suit poses an existential threat to Uber’s future.
- 27 February 2017
Uber’s top engineering executive, Amit Singhal, resigns over his failure to disclose a sexual harassment allegation at his previous job.
- 1 March 2017
"Some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own shit” – Travis Kalanick
Kalanick is caught on video berating an Uber driver. The executive apologizes and announces a plan to seek “leadership help”.
- 3 March 2017
Uber had a secret tool called Greyball, which it used to systematically deceive authorities in cities where Uber was violating local laws, the New York Times reports.
- 19 March 2017
"I can no longer continue" – Uber president Jeff Jones
Uber president Jeff Jones quits after just six months, saying the company’s values are “inconsistent” with his.
- 24 March 2017
Kalanick and a group of executives visited an escort-karaoke bar in Seoul, reports the tech website the Information.
- 28 March 2017
"We recognize the relative lack of diversity" – Uber
Uber releases its first diversity report, revealing an overwhelmingly white male workplace.
- 30 March 2017
The Uber executive accused of stealing trade secrets from Waymo, Anthony Levandowski, is invoking his fifth amendment right to avoid self-incrimination, the New York Times reports.
- 12 April 2017
Rachel Whetstone, Uber's head of public policy and communications, quits.
- 13 April 2017
A secret Uber program known as “Hell” was used to spy on rival ride-hailing firm Lyft, the Information reveals
- 24 April 2017
“I’ve heard you’ve been breaking some of our rules” – Tim Cook
Uber broke Apple’s privacy rules in its iOS app, prompting Apple CEO Tim Cook to rebuke Kalanick personally, the New York Times reports.
- 4 May 2017
The US Department of Justice launches a criminal investigation into Greyball.
- 12 May 2017
The federal judge overseeing the Waymo v Uber case recommends that federal prosecutors begin a criminal investigation into the alleged theft of trade secrets.
- 23 May 2017
"We’ll see you in court" – New York Taxi Workers Alliance
Uber admits that it has been underpaying New York City drivers tens of millions of dollars.
- 27 May 2017
Kalanick’s mother dies in boating accident.
- 30 May 2017
Uber fires Anthony Levandowski, the executive accused of stealing 14,000 documents from Waymo.
- 6 June 2017
Uber fires 20 employees following the conclusion of an investigation into sexual harassment and workplace culture.
- 7 June 2017
Uber fires one of its top executives, Eric Alexander, after reports reveal that he had obtained the medical records of an Indian passenger who was raped by an Uber driver, allegedly in order to cast doubt upon her account.
- 13 June 2017
"If we are going to work on Uber 2.0, I also need to work on Travis 2.0" – Travis Kalanick
Uber holds an all-staff meeting to discuss reforming the company’s culture. Kalanick announces that he will take an indefinite leave of absence.
“I need to hold myself to the same standards that we’re asking Uber to adopt" – David Bonderman
The board member David Bonderman resigns after making a sexist remark during the all-staff meeting.
- 15 June 2017
Uber is sued by the Indian passenger whose medical records were obtained by an executive.
- 21 June 2017
"I love Uber more than anything in the world" – Travis Kalanick
Kalanick resigns as chief executive under pressure from major investors.
- 3 August 2017
Uber rented fire-prone cars to drivers in Singapore, despite knowing that the vehicles had been recalled over serious safety concerns, the Wall Street Journal reports.
- 10 August 2017
"Gross mismanagement and other misconduct" – investor lawsuit
One of Uber’s largest investors, Benchmark Capital, sues Kalanick, alleging that the former CEO engaged in fraud when he added additional seats to the board of directors.
- 27 August 2017
"I will fight with every bone in my body" – Dara Khosrowshahi
The former Expedia boss Dara Khosrowshahi is tapped as the next CEO of Uber.
- 8 September 2017
Uber is revealed to be under investigation by the FBI over its use of the “Hell” program, according to The Wall Street Journal.
- 22 September 2017
Source: Dinendra Haria/Rex/Shutterstock
"There is a high cost to a bad reputation” – Dara Khosrowshahi
Uber loses its license to operate in London due to a lack of corporate responsibility. The company is appealing the decision.
- 2 October 2017
Uber’s UK boss, Jo Bertram, quits amid turmoil over the London license.
- 21 November 2017
"None of this should have happened" – Dara Khosrowshahi
Uber admits that it concealed a October 2016 breach that exposed the data of 57m Uber customers and drivers. The company paid a $100,000 ransom to the hackers to destroy the information and keep the breach quiet. The chief security officer, Joe Sullivan, and legal director of security and law enforcement, Craig Clark, are fired.
- 28 November 2017
“I can no longer trust the words of the lawyers for Uber in this case” – Judge William Alsup
The federal judge overseeing the Waymo trade secret case rebukes Uber and its lawyers for withholding evidence. A former employee testifies to existence of secret team at Uber that worked to spy on rivals and impede legal investigations.
- 20 December 2017
The European court of justice delivers a major blow to Uber when it rules that the startup is a transportation company, forcing it to abide by stricter regulations.