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On stage at Goldman Sachs event, Uber CEO compared his company's woes to Ferguson

By Paul Bradley Carr , written on November 20, 2014

From The News Desk

Last night, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick took a break from his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week to speak at a ritzy gathering of bankers and tech tycoons in Las Vegas, hosted by Goldman Sachs.

As Buzzfeed's Claudia Koerner reported, Kalanick opened his remarks by explaining that the company's recent scandals weren't the result of a rotten, top-down culture but rather: "that the company’s fast growth is responsible for a series of mistakes that have left it reeling in a PR crisis."

“When you push that hard you have to be very, very precise. And you have to be very disciplined, you have to do things really well,” Kalanick said to a room of investors and entrepreneurs. “But you also have to teach a lot of people, not just drivers […] you also have to teach our people internally what Uber is and how to communicate that.”
Because we can all agree the problem here is that Kalanick hasn't had chance to hand out copies of Uber's "Why we shouldn't threaten journalists' families" welcome pack to everyone yet.

And yet... the most remarkable part of Kalanick's Goldman Sachs keynote has so far gone unreported. According to multiple sources, while talking about Uber's ongoing fight with taxi authorities in Las Vegas, Kalanick likened his company's woes to those of the residents of Ferguson, MO.

I was first tipped off to the comments by an extremely reliable source who, perhaps for obvious reasons, asked that I didn't identify him or her. A second attendee, Tom Williams, confirmed the remarks on Twitter:

— tomwilliams (@tomwilliams) November 19, 2014

— tomwilliams (@tomwilliams) November 20, 2014 According to my source, Kalanick's comments caused the entire room to gasp.

It takes real effort to make an entire roomful of bankers gasp at your insensitivity. It also shows that, despite his company being pilloried on every front page in America, the CEO of Uber really, really doesn't give a shit what anyone thinks.