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Examining Uber's two-star beginning to 2017, and what it does next

A man poses holding a smartphone showing the App for ride-sharing cab service Uber in London on October 28, 2016.
A man poses holding a smartphone showing the App for ride-sharing cab service Uber in London on October 28, 2016.

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It may still be top dog when it comes to ride-sharing services in the U.S., but Uber’s reputation is in need of some serious repair work after a tumultuous end to 2016 and start to 2017.

Let’s rewind to just before the new year, in December, when Uber CEO Travis Kalanick was tapped to be part of an economic advisory panel for the Trump Administration, an offer he originally accepted. This didn’t sit well with some of Uber’s clientele, which launched a massive social media campaign to #DeleteUber, which has left the Uber app with a two out of five-star rating on Apple’s App Store. Kalanick announced in early February that he was withdrawing from the council.

Later that month, video surfaced of Kalanick in a tense argument with a driver for UberBlack, Uber’s higher-end black car service, over the impact Uber’s pricing model changes had on his financial stability. Kalanick has since publicly apologized and said he would be seeking help developing leadership skills.

Just days later, news broke of Uber’s use of software called ‘Greyball,’ which helped them identify and track law enforcement and others who might not help business. Most recently, Kalanick announced he’d be hiring a chief operating officer to help him lay out his vision for the future of the company.

We’re also taking a look at how people felt the need to see Uber in a certain way, as more than just a service, but as a social cause behind which to stand. Is this behavior specific to millennials, many of whom look for jobs that not only provide money and benefits but also give a sense that you’re contributing to a larger force of change?


Carolyn Said, San Francisco Chronicle reporter covering business, tech, and the on-demand economy; she tweets @CSaid

Jason Dorsey, founder of the Center for Generational Kinetics, a research firm specializing in millennial and Gen Z marketing; he tweets @jasondorsey