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4 of the craziest revelations about former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick's downfall

Travis Kalanick
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Travis Kalanick

Last week, SoftBank completed its long-awaited investment agreement with Uber, making it the ride-hailing company's largest shareholder and making founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick even wealthier. Kalanick, who was ousted last year following a series of tumultuous leadership missteps, sold all of his stock and will get $1.4 billion from the deal.

Bloomberg Businessweek took an in-depth look at what lead to Kalanick's demise. Here are four of the most bizarre revelations from Eric Newcomer and Brad Stone's expose:

Squirming on the floor

In February of 2017, a video showing Kalanick raising his voice towards Uber driver Fawzi Kamel went viral. "Some people don't like to take responsibility for their own shit," exclaims the CEO.

While Kalanick's words and actions are surprising on their own, his response to the video is even more bizarre. A person who was with him at the time said that Kalanick got onto his hands and knees and squirmed on the floor, muttering things like "This is bad" and "I'm terrible."

Later, Kalanick attempted to give Kamel a brief, private apology, but instead debated with the driver for over an hour and offered him Uber stock. Current Uber chief of staff Wayne Ting was in the room during their discussion. He later said in an email that Kalanick showed a lack of restraint during the meeting but "no longer had the moral standing" to lead Uber.

He was warned

Google's parent company Alphabet is a major investor in Uber, and Kalanick reportedly managed to turn a potentially collaborative relationship into a tense battle in which both companies were competing to develop a self-driving car.

Bloomberg Businessweek reports that Salle Yoo, Uber's general counsel, warned Kalanick about acquiring self-driving trucking startup, Otto. Most of Otto's core employees had previously worked for Google and she expected there could be potential for a conflict of interest.

Kalanick's top deputy, business chief Emil Michael, also said the deal was not worth the risk. And yet, Kalanick proceeded and purchased Otto for more than $600 million.

Uber was later sued by Alphabet and Benchmark general partner Bill Gurley, one of Kalanick's first supporters and a former Uber board member, says that his handling of the lawsuit was a key step towards Kalanick's demise.

Rape conspiracy theory

In December of 2014, a 26-year-old passenger was kidnapped and violently raped by an Uber driver. Following these events, Eric Alexander, who was serving as Uber's president for Asia-Pacific, obtained the passenger's medical documents and would reportedly carry them around with him.

Multiple sources confirmed to Bloomberg that Kalanick and Alexander said repeatedly that the rape had been planned by their local rival, Ola. Uber employees were disturbed by the circulation of such a twisted conspiracy theory, and many took time off from work. One senior executive told Bloomberg, "It was like a bomb went off inside the company."

The passenger later sued Uber for its handling of the incident and for illegally obtaining her medical records.

Puzzle pro

Kalanick was pressured by shareholders and board members into signing resignation documents in June of 2017. Now that he no longer has any professional or financial ties to the company, he is trying to keep busy.

His friends tell Bloomberg that he is spending time with his father in Los Angeles, setting up a family office and playing the smartphone puzzle game "2048."

According to Bloomberg, he's getting very good.

Learn more about this infographic at Visual Capitalist.

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