Uber CEO tells employees that self-propelled car unit is "screwed up"

On Tuesday, Ubers CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and the head of the self-propelled car Eric Meyhofer stood up on an all-hands meeting to a taste of polite applause.

Behind them on a big screen was a list of questions submitted and voted by the employees, indicating the burning questions the employees wanted the managers to address.

At the top, with over 130 votes, a question about the investigation was published by Business Insider last week for Ubers self-propelled car model, known as Advanced Technologies Group (ATG).

An anonymous employee asked: "Business Insider called ATG's culture" toxic "and referred to" unanswered warning signs, "big dysfunction" and "violent influence". Any truth in this? "

Business Insider had reported to enter the unit in the months before the self-ridden car killed Elaine Herzberg, as engineers intentionally turned off the car's ability to stop quickly.

Read more: Uber insiders describe infighting and questionable decisions before the self-ridden car killed a pedestrian

Both Meyhofer and Khosrowshahi spent several minutes answering the question. They did not direct or escape.

But they let down the story, tried to discredit the media, and implied that it was not actually. Meyhofer himself indicated that the story was a result of Business Insider who contacted former employees and others who did not work at the company and searched for "sensational bits."

It was not true. Business Insider talked to half a dozen people who were all employees in the company March 1[ads1]8, 2018, when the incident occurred and did after several people reached out and asked us to investigate. We verified employee accounts by email, internal documents, police reports and other documents. Business Insider also shared everything we learned with the company before publishing and included the company's feedback and statements in history.

What followed was something that prompted employees to talk about it later on an anonymous chat app.

Meyhofer defended the culture by quoting points from an internal employee survey telling everyone that the survey gained 83% for trust. 83% for cooperation and cooperation.

It turns out that these statistics are not accurate, according to a source familiar with the case.

The 83% point is in relation to how employees feel about the company's commitment to security. The results of the survey are not given to employees, but they will also include a score for "trust and openness", not "trust and cooperation."

Meyhofer then launched a story about his children. He told Uber employees that he knew that culture was great under his leadership because his teenage child wanted to visit the Uber campus while everyone was away for Thanksgiving.

"They wanted to be here," he said by his teens. "And I think it speaks very high to what we have built. They just wanted to be here."

After hearing Meyhofer's defense, a handful of colleagues discussed him on the anonymous chat app Blind, a favorite haunt of frustrated Uber employees.

A blind post said: "Eric Meyhofer: Because of his answer to all the hands of ATG culture, discuss his tenure as leader of ATG!" 141 people voted to "replace him" and 28 voted to "keep him". There are 1,100 employees working for him, so of course this survey is not statistically significant. But it indicates that at least one employee is gossiping about Meyhofer's future at Uber.

After "my kids like this," Khosrowshahi spoke.

Khosrowshahi showed his support from his senior manager by saying some negative things about Business Insider. And then he said, "We screwed up" and that "we are radically changing how we develop, how we test, etc. So we've gone through changes. We've screwed up."

Sources tell Business insider that Khosrowshahi had not been much aware of the self-drive car in his first year because he was so keen to fight Uber's main business, but that's changing now.

On Tuesday, Khosrowshahi indicated so much to say: "A year ahead of all the controversy we saw last year, we are better, stronger. And I think ATG goes through the same journey," he said.

Here is the full transcript of Meyhofer and Khosrowshahi's answer to this question from the meeting with all hands.

Dara Khosrowshahi: Okay. From anonymous: "Business Insider called ATG's culture" poisonous "and referred to" lost warning signs, great dysfunction and violent fighting. "Any truth to this?"

We will get Eric to address the problem first.

Eric Meyhofer: Another anonymous question. I think it's quite important to think about how these articles are written and some of the history of ATG. So in the last 3 1/2 years we have gone through some great sensational things here at ATG. We have seen really challenging acquisitions, major litigations, hyper-growth, significant leadership changes, all kinds of things that can bring people to a very emotional place.

And many people – there are 1100 here now – imagine how many people have gone through this journey. Many people who are no longer with us, who are contacted by these media, and they are looking for sensational pieces. And they will ask people who do not work here and take them out of context and put together an article similar to this.

I think what's more indicative of what the culture is like here is of course one, to be here and see it firsthand.

But if you look at things like our last round of NPS score [aka scores from the internal “Pulse Survey”]they have confidence in 83%. 83% for trust. 83% for cooperation and cooperation I think they are much more indicative of what is really going on here.

And then I'd like to take a few minutes and share a personal story that I think says a lot about what it's like here. And that's how this weekend was Thanksgiving weekend and I was at the weekend, which was quite nice.

And then I spend time with my family, especially with my children, and my son is 14, my daughter is 15. And it's Sunday. And I say hi, you know, it's the last day of a break. What do you want to do today? And they wanted to come to Uber. They wanted to get to work.

They wanted to be here. And I think it speaks very high to what we have built. They just wanted to be here.

And I do not know what we've been through, how we've come together as a team, what we've accomplished on "18 what our results are and what we're not yet going to show on" # 18; which I can not wait for.

I'm super proud of what we've done and who we are. And then I do not know how to justify what this article says with the truth and reality. But it's sensational, and people are pulled into their media channel, and that's what they're going to do. But we must take such things with a grain of salt and be focused on what the truth really is.

Dara Khosrowshahi: Thanks, Eric.

Just taking this from my perspective, first and foremost, I would urge anyone to scan the headlines "Business Insider", it's a sensational periodic. Not a place you go for the facts.

Having said that, I think the article reflects the fact that we have been through a ton of changes at ATG. And anytime you go through tons of changes, right, it's a management change that Eric talked about. It was a tragic accident that happened this year. These changes have resulted in and change significantly how we do things and also change a lot of people at the company as well.

And it will result in some people who do not agree with the new direction we have taken by the company and some people who can look back and say, do you know what? We turned up in X, Y, and Z.

And by the way, we turned up in X, Y and Z because we radically change how we develop, how we test, etc. So we've gone through changes. We have screwed up. I do not think that article is a true reflection of what has gone through ATG. But it reflects what is true, as we have gone through a lot. And I think our test is now: Can the team get together and build something better? My effort is yes. And we must now prove it behind that effort and I think the ATG team is going to get out of this better, tighter, stronger.

But what we must acknowledge, which is absolutely true, has been tough.

And our job is to get through this better, stronger as a company. I think Uber has and will. We are happy to go through the journey that comes through, and I think this, a year ahead of all the controversy we saw last year, we are better, stronger.

And I think ATG goes through the same trip, and I think it will come up in the same place for "better".

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