Uber has been mired in some pretty big controversies as of late, from executives threatening to dig up dirt on journalists, drivers staging protests over their dwindling pay, and even passengers complaining they've been physically and sexually assaulted on rides. Despite their very public PR nightmare, the 17 billion dollar company has done tremendously well for itself... But they're not alone, and to level the douche-filled playing field, here are 5 other companies who are just as sleazy, greedy, and evil as Uber.
Airbnb's current payment model is similar to Uber's in that the middle man (a hotel, or a taxi service) is "disrupted" by becoming obsolete. Both companies take home a percentage of the host or driver's earnings (for Airbnb its 12%, for Uber its 20%) and become rich while businesses and workers are essentially left in the cold.
In the age of the sharing economy there are bound to be setbacks. After all, companies like Uber and Airbnb are kind of making history by cutting out the middle man, right? The sad truth is, both organizations take such a large chunk out of their owners and drivers' profits that it's virtually impossible for them to see a return on their investments (especially with Uber, whose independent contractors are threatening to strike and unionize over a new round of fare cuts).
While Uber and Airbnb claim to be lifelines for those struggling to make ends meet, they've proven time and time again that it's perfectly okay to exploit a handful of hopeful homeowners and part-time drivers for a multi-billion dollar valuation.
Tinder doesn't need too many reasons to be on this list, but the company's executive leadership seems to share a deep rooted misogyny with Uber CEO, Travis Kalanick. This June, 24-year-old former Tinder Marketing VP Whitney Wolfe claimed that she was wrongfully terminated by the company and stripped of her co-founder title, citing multiple instances of sexual harassment and discrimination by co-founder and boss, Justin Mateen. Mateen allegedly referred to her as a "whore" in front of Chief Executive Officer Sean Rad, and in private text messages reprimanded the newly ousted exec for fraternizing with "middle-aged Muslim pigs."
It's no wonder a company so entrenched with female hostility has become synonymous with dounchebaggery and male entitlement. Not to be outdone, in a recent interview with GQ Kalanick coolly referred to his company as "Boob-er"; further cementing his popularity among the opposite sex and declaring himself an alpha male. Kalanick would later go on to unveil a promotion titled, "Avions De Chasse" where gorgeous French women were paid to drive through the streets of Paris in scantily clad outfits (seen here http://avionsdechasse.org/en/), but the brief stint was nixed after a very public backlash.
Lyft may seem like a warm and cuddly alternative to Uber, but in reality its just a sadder, watered down version of its greedy corporate competitor. Lyft, by all accounts, is just as dreadful when it comes to driver and passenger satisfaction, receiving an F (along with Uber) from the Better Business Bureau -- and even if it's sole advantage in the marketplace is to avoid a monopoly dominated by the big U, it fails to win the public over because it reeks of cheap imitation (in the form of a cheeky pink mustache).
If you're going to complain about Uber poaching your drivers, purposefully placing and canceling ride requests, and being an all around asshole 24/7 wouldn't it be in your best interest to change some of your own deceptive policies? If Lyft's independent contractors are basically being paid the same (if not less) than Uber's, what's the incentive to stay on board the sinking ship? Most Lyft drivers will either be forced to quit and join Uber, or keep burning their pink mustaches in effigy.
4. American Apparel
American Apparel has always blurred the lines between mainstream sleaze and pornographic culture, but it wasn't until charges of sexual misconduct by several disgruntled employees surfaced did the board of directors begin to take notice. That notice of course, was directed at the king of slime, American Apparel CEO and founder, Dov Charney. Imagine being a parent, knowing your son or daughter worked at a company, only to discover he or she was forced to perform sexual acts and favors just to keep their job. You'd probably expect Mr. Charney to be jettisoned to prison -- but instead the board found it in their heart to merely remove him as acting CEO. Saving face so they could focus on their real problem: plummeting recession-era sales.
Uber's rottenness reached similar heights when complaints began to trickle in regarding sexual attacks between drivers and passengers, the most notable being a kidnapped woman who woke up in a seedy hotel room next to her Uber driver. As a parent, one would imagine a similar narrative; while your son or daughter might enjoy a safe ride home, the dangers of a stranger having direct access to an intoxicated human being are still very troubling. By merely terminating drivers who commit these heinous acts, Uber is just as culpable as the men who give aggressors like Dov Charney asylum. If the company has any interest in restoring the public's assurance, they'll have to screen their drivers and perform 3rd party background checks like most Taxi companies in America already do.
5. Columbia University
Columbia University isn't exactly a company, but it happens to be an institution that charges its students 55K annually for tuition, meaning it's not exactly short on cash. So why would a globally praised university make it to the Top #5 Buzzfeed Community Post about the shadiest organizations in America? Well, if you've been following the news lately you've probably read about Emma Sulkowicz, a Columbia Senior who has spent the last semester carrying a mattress, like the one on which she was sexually assaulted, around campus until her alleged rapist is no longer allowed at the school.
Emma has been praised for turning her activism into a performance art piece, and has received an outpouring of support from students, faculty members, and prestigious artists. The University however, has not pressed charges against the student in question, and even though two other students claim to be the victims of the same attacker, Columbia has still done nothing to address these incidents. While Uber and American Apparel stepped up and eventually made the right decision, their standards should be much, much lower -- and it is still rather shocking that a prestigious university has sat idly by, "waiting it out." If Uber drivers are in fact fed up with the current payment system, it's a welcome sight to see them protesting on busy streets, honking at various pub crawls demanding tips, pushing for higher wages, and advocating long-term job security. Since Uber is still relatively new, whatever the future holds is still a mystery, but drivers have the added luxury of suddenly being in the spotlight, raising their metaphorical mattress (tire, steering wheel, whatever it may be) to speak up, while the media presses firmly on the CEO and his unwavering opposition to self-sustained empowerment. Uber On!