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Uber CEO Travis Kalanick Calls Employee's Smear Campaign Remarks "Terrible" -- But Not Terrible Enough to Fire Him

Uber has an image problem, Kalanick admitted. You think?

Asa Mathat

On his personal Twitter account, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick rejected threatening comments made by his VP of business Emil Michael, but did not say he had been fired for them.

In fact, it looks like Michael is getting a pass from Kalanick in a mistakes-were-made tweetstorm today.

Michael, one of Kalanick’s closest lieutenants at the San Francisco transportation service, had suggested in a conversation reported by BuzzFeed that Uber should start a million-dollar campaign to malign the personal lives of reporters. His rant was aimed specifically at PandoDaily’s Sarah Lacy, who has been a tough critic of Uber.

The comments were “terrible” and “not representative in any way of the company approach,” Kalanick tweeted.

But Kalanick’s disjointed statements were certainly not as strong as they could — or perhaps should — have been.

While the Uber CEO acknowledged his company needs to repair its image, Michael apparently gets to keep his job. “I believe that folks who make mistakes can learn from them — myself included,” Kalanick wrote. “And that also goes for Emil.” Kalanick also apologized to Lacy.

Kalanick used a stream of tweets to make his comments. It took a lot more than 140 characters. Here’s what he said in full:

“Emil’s comments at the recent dinner party were terrible and do not represent the company. His remarks showed a lack of leadership, a lack of humanity, and a departure from our values and ideals. His duties here at Uber do not involve communications strategy or plans and are not representative in any way of the company approach. Instead, we should lead by inspiring our riders, our drivers and the public at large. We should tell the stories of progress and appeal to people’s hearts and minds. We must be open and vulnerable enough to show people the positive principles that are the core of Uber’s culture. We must tell the stories of progress Uber has brought to cities and show the our constituents that we are principled and mean well. The burden is on us to show that, and until Emil’s comments we felt we were making positive steps along those lines. But I will personally commit to our riders, partners and the public that we are up to the challenge. We are up to the challenge to show that Uber is and will continue to be a positive member of the community. And furthermore, I will do everything in my power towards the goal of earning that trust. I believe that folks who make mistakes can learn from them — myself included. And that also goes for Emil … and last, I want to apologize to @sarahcuda.”

What happens next is unclear, but it seems Uber is hoping this controversy will go away. Perhaps not, given Michael is one of Uber’s most public-facing execs, in charge of all its partner deals, so he can hardly be shoved somewhere quiet at the company.

More to come, for sure.

This article originally appeared on

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