The cycle of bad publicity never seems to end for Uber. The company that began the year with both positive buzz and growth watched its reputation wane after negative news story after negative news story surfaced. Among Uber’s disasters, an alleged hit and run resulting in the death of a six-year-old, as well as alleged rapes in Chicago and New Delhi, were the worst. By December, Uber was banned in New Delhi, and immediately following the New Delhi ban, Uber was banned from operating in Portland after being accused of disobeying government regulations. This week, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick was indicted in South Korea for operating Uber in the country illegally.

 

These types of incidents can be fatal for businesses and would cause an ordinary CEO to go on damage control. But there’s nothing ordinary about Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. This is the same CEO who stuck by the Uber executive who offered to pay a large sum of money to “dig up dirt” on journalists who bad-mouth Uber in the press. As one crisis piles on top of the other, Kalanick offers a flimsy apology and does little to repair Uber’s reputation.

 

Uber tweets

Twitter users react to Uber’s fare hikes during the Sydney hostage crisis. (Twitter)

Uber’s written apologies are issued as quickly as they’re publicly panned and forgotten. Following a written apology, Uber immediately forgets the crisis and then propels itself forward, directly in the path of a new crisis. The issue is that Uber appears to be more concerned about growing than repairing its public image. This may not be the case. Uber may be deeply concerned. Then again, using Twitter to promote your cab service during a possible terrorist attack, as Uber did in Sydney in December (while charging four times your usual fare), doesn’t sound like a company that’s deeply concerned with anyone.

 

Uber and Kalanick aren’t winning over any hearts or making many friends in the media, yet Uber remains a popular service that has experienced incredible growth in 2014. Kalanick, a newly minted billionaire, is described as being less like a man on a mission and more like a general on a “warpath.” But if Uber is to survive another five years, Kalanick might want to consider choosing his weapons carefully, especially when dealing with the media.

 

What are your thoughts on Uber and Travis Kalanick? Leave your thoughts in the comments section or tweet me @nataliepetitto.