In 2013, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick sent an email to his employees detailing rules about how they were allowed to party and have sex with each other on a company excursion. Recode obtained the email and released it on Thursday, the day after news broke that Uber had laid off 20 employees as part of an investigation into its (sexist) workplace culture.
At its best moments, Kalanick’s email is unusually informal; at its worst, it is lewd and invasive. The message encourages employees to “have a great fucking time” at the days-long event but lays out some rules:
“Do not have sex with another employee UNLESS a) you have asked that person for that privilege and they have responded with an emphatic ‘YES! I will have sex with you’ AND b) the two (or more) of you do not work in the same chain of command. Yes, that means that Travis will be celibate on this trip. #CEOLife #FML.”
Mentioning consent is good; not telling your employees that you wish you could have sex with them is better.
Kalanick tells workers not to puke openly in public, get sent to jail, or “throw large kegs off of tall buildings.” It’s like Kalanick kinda wants his employees to abide by the law, but also kinda wants to be organizing a frat party.
“You better read this or I’ll kick your ass,” he writes.
The law firms Perkins Coie and Covington & Burling are running the ongoing probes into Uber’s workplace culture, and have reportedly been examining this email as just one piece of evidence. Recode does not reveal how it obtained a copy.
Sexism at Uber is common and well-documented; a blog post published by a former employee in February details many sexist practices within the company, and on Wednesday Uber fired a manager who had mishandled a sexual assault case — after the events became public, that is, three years later.
At a time when Uber’s reputation is already tanking, this email from Kalanick does not help.
Here’s the email in its entirety:
————— Forwarded message —————
From: Travis Kalanick
Date: Friday, October 25, 2013
Subject: 九 Info: URGENT, URGENT - READ THIS NOW OR ELSE!!!!!
To: Uber Team
Hey guys, I wanted to get some important information out there. I’ve put together a Q&A that we can use when other folks ask what we’re doing here, and have some DOs and DON’Ts for our time here in Miami.
You better read this or I’ll kick your ass.
Q&A - If I’ve missed anything, or you just have a random question, please reply to all on this thread!
Q: What is Uber doing here?
A: Uber has recently rolled out to its 50th global city. We are celebrating this company milestone and others and have organized a local grassroots movement to help bring Uber to Miami. #MiamiNeedsUber
Q: What does the Chinese symbol 九 stand for?
A: 九 translates to the number 9. It is a symbol that has internal meaning at Uber but is something we do not discuss externally.
Q: Is this an Internet bubble boondoggle?
A: It’s a celebration of a major milestone for the company, as well as a chance for us to hold a company-wide retreat and organize our efforts globally. It’s the one time that everyone in the company can meet in person all the people we work with every day.
I have gotten a list of concerns from the legal department. I have translated these concerns into a clear set of common sense guidelines. I’ve also added a few items of my own.
1) No lives should begin or end at 九
2) We do not have a budget to bail anyone out of jail. Don’t be that guy. #CLM
3) Do not throw large kegs off of tall buildings. Please talk to Ryan McKillen and Amos Barreto for specific insights on this topic.
4) Do not have sex with another employee UNLESS a) you have asked that person for that privilege and they have responded with an emphatic “YES! I will have sex with you” AND b) the two (or more) of you do not work in the same chain of command. Yes, that means that Travis will be celibate on this trip. #CEOLife #FML
5) Drugs and narcotics will not be tolerated unless you have the appropriate medicinal licensing.
6) There will be a $200 puke charge for any public displays on the Shore Club premises. Shore Club will be required to send pictures as proof.
7) DO NOT TALK TO PRESS. Send all press inquiries to Andrew - email@example.com Additionally, stay vigilant about making sure people don’t infiltrate our event. If and when you find yourself talking to a non-Uber (look for the wristband), keep confidential stuff confidential… no rev figures, driver figures, trip figures… don’t talk about internal process, and don’t talk about initiatives that have not already launched.
1) Have a great fucking time. This is a celebration! We’ve all earned it.
2) Share good music. Digital DJs are encouraged to share their beats poolside.
3) Go out of your way to meet as many of your fellow uberettos as you can.
4) If you haven’t figured it out yet, Miami’s transportation sucks ass. #Slang as many Miamians, drivers, influencers as you can as passionately as you can and let them know why Uber will make this great city an even better place. Every slang matters. #MiamiNeedsUber…
5) If someone asks to meet the CEO and Founder of Uber, kindly introduce him to Max Crowley.