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The Underside of Uber

While the car-hailing app Uber’s board members and investors have received an outpouring of praise in recent days for forcing CEO Travis Kalanick to resign, they don’t deserve it. On the contrary, while Kalanick did indeed need to go, the move was long overdue – and it was delayed for all the wrong reasons.

LONDON – The car-hailing app Uber’s board members and investors have received an outpouring of praise in recent days for forcing CEO Travis Kalanick to resign. They don’t deserve it. On the contrary, while Kalanick did indeed need to go, the move was long overdue – and it was delayed for all the wrong reasons.

Founded in 2009 as “UberCab” in San Francisco, Uber has grown from an innovative startup to a $68 billion global behemoth at an astonishing rate. With the help of multiple rounds of financing from major investors, including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Goldman Sachs, it has emerged as a massive industry disruptor, operating in 570 cities worldwide, in less than a decade.

But the company’s rapid ascent has been accompanied by a steady stream of revelations of dubious behavior, from violating customers’ privacy and deceiving local government regulators to mistreating drivers. When guests at its Chicago launch party in 2011 were entertained by the company’s “God View” system, which allowed them to see the whereabouts of all current drivers and riders, it was a clear privacy violation, but the demonstration at least kept its subjects anonymous.

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