#BoycottUber trends after CEO seemingly defends Saudi murder of Khashoggi

FILE PHOTO: Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi of ride-hailing app Uber pictured on stage during an event in New York City, New York, U.S., September 5, 2018. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

Uber Technologies Inc. Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi said in an interview on the television show “Axios on HBO” that the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was “a mistake” by the Saudi Arabian government, and compared it to Uber’s accident with a self-driving car that killed a woman.

In the interview that aired Sunday, Khosrowshahi said, “It doesn’t mean they can never be forgiven.” The CEO backtracked in a follow-up statement sent to Axios after the interview, saying: “I said something in the moment that I don’t believe.” He called Khashoggi’s murder “reprehensible” and said it “should not be forgotten.”

The remarks set off calls for customers to protest the ride-hailing service. The hashtag #BoycottUber was trending on Twitter in the U.S. Monday. The response is drawing parallels to a politically motivated boycott from 2017, when Uber’s perceived support of President Donald Trump and his immigration policies led to a #DeleteUber campaign. More than 200,000 people removed the app during that movement.

Khosrowshahi’s comments came during a discussion about Uber’s relationship with Saudi Arabia, which is the ride-hailing car company’s fifth-largest investor. The Axios interviewer, Mike Allen, asked if Yasir Othman Al-Rumayyan, who heads Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, should be allowed to remain on Uber’s board. Khosrowshahi called Al-Rumayyan a “very constructive” board member who provides valuable input.

As the interview continued, the discussion turned to the Saudi government’s role in Khashoggi’s gruesome murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last year. “I think that the government said they made a mistake,” Khosrowshahi said. “It’s a serious mistake. We’ve made mistakes too with self driving and we stopped driving and we’re recovering from that mistake. So I think that people make mistakes, it doesn’t mean that they can never be forgiven.”

In March 2018 one of Uber’s cars testing autonomous driving software struck and killed a 49-year-old woman in Tempe, Arizona, as she was crossing the road. Uber paused tests of all its self-driving vehicles after the incident.

Bloomberg

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.