Uber Insiders Are Desperate To Sell But "The Demand Side Has Dried Up"

With the CEO on 'temporary' leave, and lacking most of the C-suite, Uber's seemingly endless stream of PR disasters has finaly begun to impact its 'king of unicorns' status as CNBC reports a growing number of insiders are seeking to sell their shares. But buyers are hard to find.

As a gentle reminder, here is a snapshot of some of the most notable scandals that have emerged, involving the world's most valuable private company:

  1. Another tale of sexism and unacceptable workplace behavior in Silicon Valley company has emerged. This time it's at Uber, according to an explosive blog post published on Sunday by a former company engineer named Susan Fowler Riggetti.
  2. Uber's newly-hired VP of engineering Amit Singhal was asked to, and did, resign on Monday after the company learned from Recode that he was accused of sexual harassment shortly before leaving Google a year ago. Here's more on the difficult position of former employers in this case.
  3. A video showing Uber CEO Travis Kalanick rudely arguing with a long-time driver at the end of his ride was published by Bloomberg. "I need leadership help," Kalanick said in an apology he issued shortly after.
  4. Susan Fowler Rigetti, the former Uber engineer who wrote of discrimination, said she's hired attorneys after a new law firm began to investigate her claims. Uber confirmed it has hired Perkins Coie, which reports to former A.G. Eric Holder, who's leading the investigation.
  5. Uber said on Thursday that it will finally apply for a DMV permit to test self-driving cars in California after its cars' registrations were revoked in December because it refused to get the permit.
  6. Charlie Miller, one of the two famous car hackers who joined Uber's Advanced Technology Center in August 2015, announced he's leaving the company.
  7. The New York Times uncovered a secret Uber program called Greyball, through which the company uses software and data to evade law enforcement in cities.
  8. Keala Lusk, a former Uber engineer, published a blog post detailing how her female manager mistreated her, signaling that the company's problematic culture isn't limited to the men who work there.
  9. Ed Baker, Uber's head of product and growth, resigned. Though the reason is unclear, he was allegedly seen kissing another employee three years ago, which was anonymously communicated to board member Arianna Huffington, according to Recode.
  10. A report outlines a trip by a group of Uber employees to a Seoul karaoke-escort bar in 2014, which included company CEO Travis Kalanick and his girlfriend, Gabi Holzwarth. After arriving, several male employees picked escorts to sit with, and went to sing karaoke. Uncomfortable, a female marketing manager, who was part of the group, left after a couple of minutes, while Holzwarth and Kalanick left after an hour.
  11. California regulators have recommended that Uber be fined $1.13 million for failing to investigate and/or suspend drivers who are reported by a passenger to be intoxicated. The state requires ride-hailing companies to have a zero-tolerance policy for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  12. A new report says Uber used a secret program dubbed "Hell' to track Lyft drivers to see if they were driving for both ride-hailing services and otherwise stifle competition. Only a small group of Uber employees, including CEO Travis Kalanick, knew about the program, according to a story in The Information, which was based on an anonymous source who was not authorized to speak publicly.
  13. Waymo sued Uber in civil court, claiming that Uber was using trade secrets stolen from Google to develop Uber’s self-driving vehicles.
  14. Uber fires Anthony Levandowski, a star engineer brought in to lead the company’s self-driving automobile efforts who was accused of stealing trade secrets when he left a job at Google.
  15. Uber said Tuesday that it had made a mistake in the way it calculated its commissions, at a cost of tens of millions of dollars to its New York drivers, and the company vowed to correct the practice and make the drivers whole for the lost earnings.
  16. Uber fires over 20 staff following the release of a report about sexual harrassment in the workplace.
  17. Reports emerge that Uber CEO Travis Kalanick fired off a bizarre email in 2013 to hundreds of employees where he listed the conditions under which they could have sex with each other at a company outing in Miami
  18. Uber’s chief business officer, Emil Michael, resigned from the company.
  19. Holder report released, CEO Kalanick temporarily takes leave of absence.

This list is by no means comprehensive, but appears to be enough straws to break the unicorn's back, as CNBC reports, there's an imbalance in the market for private sales of Uber as insiders look to cash out.

"The demand side has dried up relative to the sell side," said Larry Albukerk, managing director of EB Exchange, a San Francisco broker that has arranged private sales of tech-company shares since 1999. "We're getting calls all the time from people who want to sell" at least part of their Uber stake, said Albukerk.


Uber employees have long faced tighter restrictions on share sales compared to workers at other tech start-ups. Arranging private share sales for Uber insiders has been notoriously difficult, said Albukerk, because CEO Travis Kalanick has kept a tight grip on transactions.


Another secondary market broker, who asked not to be named so as not to endanger his relationship with clients, said Uber has a "lockdown" on private sales.

Some have suggested that loosening restrictions at Uber could boost employee morale and make the company more attractive to prospective talent.

However, doing so now could cause a rush to sell by early employees and investors, who so far have been unable to realize any gains, and exacerbate the already dismal optics of the company.


Killdo SloMoe Mon, 06/19/2017 - 21:16 Permalink

they take 25% from all the drivers driving around the country every day (and that's before the drivers deduce expenses like gas, fixing the car, flat tires etc). If you take those costs into the account - Uber and Lyft take almost 40% of what drvers make - without providing ANYTHING in return apart from the stupid app which does not even work well. (also drivers pay the 1500$ insurance deductable and every other cost related to the car - they have no paid holidays or any other benefits whatsoever) It's a pure feudalism.How do these jerks lose any money? They take money without doing anything - either they are a bunch of idiots or they are stealing money. Probably both?

In reply to by SloMoe

SmittyinLA Mon, 06/19/2017 - 19:33 Permalink

It's A RIDE APP, duh, not only that it has tons of overhead for an app, a giant herd of corporate douchbags, the political hack load has to begger than any tractor pull.

Better apps with more discretion more privacy and zero political and tax tolls are already available.

knukles Mon, 06/19/2017 - 19:33 Permalink

I'll take all you want to get rid of for $0.  How's that?  No?Then why don't you pay me to take them?  No?Guess you can sit with them then.Don't wanna?OK, all you got to sell for a penny.  One cent.  Last chance.Don't yell at me, I didn't buy the shit for you.

Last of the Mi… Mon, 06/19/2017 - 20:13 Permalink

I bet there's a 24/7 FANG hotline supporting the price somewhere. Big, BIG circle jerk of VC peeps rushing to buy the crumbling cliff of sellers. My guess is they won't be able to stabilize it. It's just too ephemeral. Hell even the FED is talking about tech stock overvaluation after they purposely made the guys billionaires. Go figure.

deev Mon, 06/19/2017 - 20:25 Permalink

An uber from my home to the airport was always more expensive than a taxi. Could never work out how they were going to make that work.

pitz deev Mon, 06/19/2017 - 20:57 Permalink

Your sentence doesn't make any sense.  Uber is a taxi dispatch service.  So how could an 'uber' be more expensive than a taxi?  An uber-dispatched taxi cab was more expensive than a normally dispatched taxi?  Does Uber cause millennials to lose their basic English and grammatical skills too? 

In reply to by deev

Porous Horace Mon, 06/19/2017 - 21:15 Permalink

"The state requires ride-hailing companies to have a zero-tolerance policy for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs."Alcohol is a drug. Saying "alcohol or drugs" makes as much sense as saying "heroin or drugs."

Dump Mon, 06/19/2017 - 22:27 Permalink

Uber is bust. There is no market in the shares and $68bn value is just a figment of the minds of the owners. They should all be shitting themselves.What value a company that burns $700m a quarter cash. That it survives only by cash subsidy of its investors proves it is less eficient than the industry it purports to replace. Sell.

Endgame Napoleon Mon, 06/19/2017 - 22:38 Permalink

I read one of those complaint stories to see what they are defining as sexual harassment and traumatic, noting the long line of women empathizing with this woman in the comment line.

As a childless woman suffering through a bunch of vicious bullying from momma-absenteeism cliques in extremely unprofessional office jobs, I certainly never see anything like that empathy.

I was paid FAR less when going through all of this and was much more vulnerable between jobs, when bullied out by FEMALES [nice mommies] who were almost always frequently absentee from work for long stretches of time: all morning, all afternoon, all day, all week, many times over. Nor were they high selling or highly productive in most cases, but the manager mommas often collude with their momma staff, taking turns taking off.

The unprofessional behavior starts in jerk-you-around interviews, where the mommas let you know who they hire and retain:

"We have 17 women in here and HAVE to have someone who fits in."

"YOU don't know what it is like to raise two boys."

"Busy moms never get a night out," says a single-momma manager, leaving in the middle of an interview with a childless applicant that she has no intention of hiring to get ready for a date.

If you get the job, it is usually even worse, although they will butter you up for awhile in sales jobs to get you to sell as much as you can to pump up the manager's bonus and then churn you, keeping fellow, backscratching, absenteeism-clique mommas to manage the accounts you generated, even though you had higher retention numbers than them, too, in addition to much higher sales generation.

Yes, frequently absentee, parenting-clique managers do it, both the mommas and the dads, but with more mommas using this tactic by far. The women are far worse about using meetings and other mandatory workplace activities to exercise their cattiness and to impose their group womb-bonding rituals.

The prize for the baby-mommy-look-alike-bulletin-board-decorating contest is getting you "down in the floor and smearing Vaseline all over your shiny, exfoliated face" is a typical catty comment made by a momma manager in a so-called meeting, and it likewise reflects the kind of non work-related activity that these female professionals waste their time on.

A female manager who wanted another mom to be hired, not me, even dribbled out legal, new-hire paperwork, piece by piece, over a period of two weeks, calling me into the conference room each time to give me long lectures on "office wives" and every juicy detail of her family life, while letting me know how dumb people with college degrees were, like so-in-so who worked there, knowing that I had a useless degree, and reminding me how smart her college-bound kids were.

You have to smile and nod your head the whole time, trying to say something diplomatic and knowing that you will never last in this job, no matter how many sales that you bust your can to make. These bully mommas know that and abuse their power....for what? They seem to derive some sort of twisted pleasure out of watching you squirm while trying to be polite.

When people do this stuff well into middle age, it gets truly ridiculous.

I have seen a TON of unprofessional crap in female-dominated offices, including multiple buildings full of unlicensed moms with taxpayer-subsidized rent, free groceries and huge Child Taxfare Credits and/or with spousal incomes dominating the salaried jobs with benefits in the industry where I hold licenses that I must pay for on a biannual basis, taking more tests. These moms dominate within an iron-fisted, bully-gang structure, where catty words are their weapons.

No, they do not tell you that they want to have sex with you or that you are hott, but when they bully you out the door before you qualify for UC to cover your rent, it has a much worse economic impact than when a six-figure engineer is fired or given poor performance reviews, leading to another six-figure job within a week.

If you read her story, the things that are bad are not the things emphasized in industry articles. So, a man made a lewd, verbal comment in an industry dominated by youth, in a super-lewd society, where many college kids voluntary attend every bacchanalian party they can find. And every TV show and other cultural product consumed avidly by young people is full of lewd, crude, graphically sexual commentary.

I find it hard to believe that women are so shocked by that behavior in today's libertine society, although I do see why she felt bullied when her performance reviews were used as a way to undermine her when she did not just shrug it off or make a funny comment back, like many (most) women would.

She sounds like a serious engineer with a lot of knowledge. It sounds like she worked hard, and when you do, it is very wrong for people to try to hurt you in your career trajectory.

I wonder how she would feel if she had worked very hard for MUCH less money, watching a bunch of moms take off a ton of time and failing to meet the sales quotas, not to mention inconveniencing paying customers all the time with their absenteeism.

How would she feel if she were fired, although she was one of their highest sellers and, likewise, one of the few working the full hours amongst a frequently absentee, back-watching clique, especially if her manager literally laughed at her for staying late to complete a $3,000 sale that would be a recurring account, spending that much every month?

This was an account with a huge company, from a pure cold call that took tons of effort: calling and calling and calling to finally get through to a decision maker, like all of the other closed sales she got.

Or, how would she feel if she put just as much energy into servicing the accounts, including those that made her zero in commission, the acccints of the mommas on their frequent babyvacations, going home exhausted, day after day, with no days off, but getting the same back-stabbing treatment from people she was 100% polite to--nice....family...people...nice "working families," not.

The unprofessional-cubed, absenteeism-clique managers keep their fellow babyvacationers, the ones who take off at 2:30, saying it is for baby. They keep the ones who are off this week for baby Halloween party preparations, while manager momma is off next week for baby travel soccer, with performance reviews calling baby travel soccer work, although the number of sales and other interesting information is both fully visible on the computer and discussed openly, with the momma-clique workers who are above all rules haughtily flaunting their negligence.

When these parenting-clique managers (mostly mommas) decide to bully a hard worker out, they not only do it, they do it sadistically, playing a bunch of unnecessary games just to make polite people who feel like they cannot say anything back to them squirm.

They are horrible. They have families, most of them, but that does NOT make them nice people, no matter how much parents enjoy showing off baby in a bunch of family pageantry at work. Showing off is fun for adults. It does not make them good people, although many working parents use it as an excuse, as a gang tactic to create workplace solidarity in their absenteeism cliques and as a decoy to disguise bad behavior.

By contrast with the women dealing with all of this in jobs that pay between $20k to $25k--i.e. between $10 and $12/hr--highly paid women in the tech industry make a ton of money during their bad workplace experiences, certainly enough to make me overlook being told that someone thought I was attractive, however crudely put. One of those women also describes making a ton of money afterward on a bestselling book about her experience with the company.

Does she think the spicier elements might have anything to do with the sales, like when Bill
Clinton wrote a book......?

While I can see some of her points, particularly the part about performance-review intimidation and also the maneuvering of managers, jockeying for positions while technical performance issues that could affect customers were put beneath their careerism, at least, she was not struggling to afford rent when dealing with these theatrics.

She was highly paid. And she went right into another high-paying job, suggesting that the performance reviews did not hold her back.

Yet, the women are all expressing sorrow for her harrowing experiences.

These highly paid women, like the momma-clique workers with unearned, womb-productivity income at the bottom, stick together like glue.

I can count on one hand the number of women who have been decent human beings to me in the situations that I have described. But then, women run in packs in workplaces, just like the men she describes.

If women truly disapprove of this workplace gangland behavior, why don't they reject group-factional bullying when it benefits them, as it does in a ton of mommy-clique financial services back offices, call centers and assorted office jobs?

When these nice, absentee family people--these "working families" or working moms--bully people out the door, it often means losing the ability to pay basic things, like shelter, on top of all the unnecessary verbal harshness.

The childless employees do not have backup income, like $6,269 Child Tax Credits, subsidized rent or a child support check that covers rent. The stress levels are much higher for that reason when intimidated or bullied out by nice mommies, even though the pay is so much lower.

Most absurdly, the customers are almost always the last thing on the minds of the people in charge. They have families to feed, say these unprofessional, customer-last people. You would think they would be worried about generating sales and retention of accounts for that very reason, but the fake-feminist narrative of working moms and "working families" is a much stronger force than customers in most workplaces. In the non youth-clique workplaces, it is, anyway.

ogretown Tue, 06/20/2017 - 01:29 Permalink

Ah yes, reminds me of my old British broker - a very proper and dapper man.  Sitting with him one day, he takes a call. Listens to one of his clients asking him to sell out his position in a certain stock.  My man takes a small sip of brandy and states politely - To whom sir, would you wish me to sell your stock to as there is no bid. I guess you had to be there....

oncemore Tue, 06/20/2017 - 04:04 Permalink

They are depleating the company. With those revenuesthey have here in Vienna only, 6M revenue each month, 25% is 1.5M.
How many cities, like Vienna are they in?
There is only one explanation: they siphon the money.