Friday, 3 March 2017

USA: Uber Executive Resigns After Harassment Complaints

A new engineering executive at Uber left Monday after the ride-sharing titan learned he ended his career at Google after a sexual harassment complaint, according to US media reports.

Amit Singhal has denied acting in any such improper manner while head of search at Google but did not disclose that there had been an internal investigation that ended with the complaining employee found "credible," , which shared what it had learned about the situation with Uber.

Singhal, a well known figure in Silicon Valley, worked at Google for 15 years before retiring early last year. He was recently hired by Uber as senior vice president of engineering.

Nothing about the complaint at Google was uncovered in a background check done on Singhal before being hired by Uber, Recode and other outlets reported.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick asked Singhal to resign early Monday for not disclosing the investigation, according to Recode.

Singhal condemned harassment in any setting and said "I do not condone and have not committed such behavior."

Accusations of sexism, cut-throat management, and a toxic work environment have Uber trying to pull its image out of a skid as competition revs in the on-demand ride market.

Uber hired former attorney general Eric Holder to review workplace conditions after ex-employee Susan Fowler alleged sexual harassment and sexism at the firm in a detailed online post.

A New York Times report on Friday depicted an environment at Uber in which workers were pitted against one another and misbehavior by top performers was overlooked.

Controversies threaten to revive a #DeleteUber campaign triggered by Kalanick´s short-lived plan to be part of a business advisory group for US President Donald Trump.

Kalanick quit the group under pressure from a growing movement to stop using the ride-sharing service because of his connection to the new administration, and by extension an anti-immigrant agenda.

As the campaign picked up speed, rival Lyft´s popularity accelerated.

Meanwhile, the race to develop self-driving vehicles took a turn last week when Google´s parent company Alphabet filed a lawsuit against Uber, accusing it of using stolen technology.

Alphabet contends that a manager at its autonomous car subsidiary Waymo took technical data with him when he left to launch a competing venture that went on to become Otto, Uber´s self-driving vehicle unit, in a reported $680 million deal.

San Francisco-based Uber acquired commercial transport-focused tech startup Otto last year as it pressed ahead with a pursuit of self-driving technology.

In the eyes of consumers, Uber´s controversies pack together into "a snowball of trouble rolling down the hill getting bigger and bigger," said brand management specialists Bruce Turkel.