Uber’s brand has been “severely tarnished” by months of scandals and executive departures, Fortune Executive Editor Adam Lashinsky says — but things can get better.
On the latest episode of Recode Decode, Lashinsky spoke with Recode’s Kara Swisher about his new book “Wild Ride: Inside Uber’s Quest for World Domination,” which traces the rise of the ride-hailing company and its former CEO Travis Kalanick. When the interview was taped in front of a live audience at Inforum at the Commonwealth Club, Kalanick had just announced an indefinite leave of absence but had not yet resigned as CEO.
“I don’t know if it will stick,” Lashinsky said of Uber’s planned reinvention. “I think they have a shot at making those things stick because I don’t believe that every person is rotten, and I’m not making any excuses for the people who are.”
He proposed a “cup half full” picture for the company, which would require bringing in new leadership — someone like former Disney COO Tom Staggs, who stepped down from that company last year, or former Ford CEO Alan Mulally, who retired in 2014.
“I think there’s good people doing good corporate work at Uber, and I don’t think that takes away from the things you’re talking about,” Lashinsky said to Swisher. “I think it’s possible to do what they’re doing without being shifty. And the example would be that Lyft is doing it.”
On the new podcast, Lashinsky also talked about trying to find Kalanick’s “Rosebud,” i.e. the thing that made him who he is, and why his reporting didn’t uncover any of the sexual harassment alleged by Susan Fowler and other former employees, or the now-infamous “Miami letter” that Kalanick sent in 2013.
“I interviewed women on the record for this book, I interviewed women off the record for this book, and this subject didn’t come up,” Lashinsky said. “I didn’t know.”
“If anyone’s going to bring it up unsolicited when I say, ‘Tell me what I need to know,’ you would think it would be women,” he added.
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This article originally appeared on Recode.net.