Uber investor Ashton Kutcher: what's so bad about investigating “shady journalists”


Is today “Bash Uber day?” Did someone at Uber personally offend Xeni?

Where was all of this hateful enthusiasm when my local cab company was adding random fees, refusing to pick up black people, “forgetting” about scheduled pickups whenever they got busy, etc…?


Some day, MBA students, grad-school journalists, and leadership gurus will be using Uber as a case to illustrate the importance of putting down the shovels when you have already dug yourself into a hole. Of course, there’s the alternative view espoused by P.T. Barnum: there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

Circus analogy completely intentional…




i think the underlying malaise is that Uber is getting big enough (in every sense) that the only apparent way for it to sustain itself is to become an entrenched monopoly itself, rather than “disrupt” them.

“meet the new boss, same as the old boss” probably feels like a betrayal to people who were already not very fond of the assholes in charge. even the people i know who love Uber the service, can’t stand Uber the company.

it’s easy to bash it because the nastiness isn’t happening behind closed doors or to random losers, but in open meetings on the interwebs and toward high-profile critics.

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I suspect Ashton Kutcher has had a lifetime full of shady journalists. Not really surprising he doesn’t sympathize with the implications of this kind of statement; to him it’s probably just tit for tat and always has been.


At least Uber doesn’t have a regulatory monopoly. If you don’t like them, use Lyft instead. If they go totally evil then it’s not terribly hard for someone to start up a competitor. This was the complaint with the old taxi system. The regulations had turned the incumbents into monopolists.

There has been a lot of complaints about the destruction of the regulatory framework with Uber, but that framework was almost entirely about protecting the cab companies, not the customers. Heck, even when the regulations do add in some random customer protections, like “the Cab must accept credit cards”, you’ll find that a lot of cabs have “broken card readers” all of the time and the regulatory agency doesn’t care.


Not so much stupid as a classic example of a rarefied point of view. To Ashton Kutcher, a journalist is an animal that yells at him from behind a velvet rope or, worse, tries to take illicit photos of him sunbathing.


Maybe I wasn’t clear; my point was that it wouldn’t be easy for someone to start up a competitor if Uber successfully jockeys for a regulatory monopoly. Since Uber knows how to bend/break the rules, they would know how to lobby for and enforce a more iron-clad protection for themselves, and they seem perfectly willing to do so. I wish people would read more Adam Smith and less Ayn Rand.

Of course if they tried to regulate themselves into power, I suspect they would fail miserably, but it doesn’t seem like there’s any other way for them to hold onto their massive valuation. I don’t really care either way despite living in a “battleground” city. I’m just ready to make some popcorn and waiting for the inevitable lulz.

There was also the Uber driver that told the cancer patient the other day that she deserved to have cancer, after she cancelled her ride (and then Uber only gave her a $30 credit for her trouble). I think that probably struck a chord with Xeni. Also, they seem to be doing a lot of stupid stuff in recent days, so there’s that.


it’s the $30 that bothers me the most. it’s just offensive.

when Apple gave me a $5 iTunes credit for totally b0rking my account, i made them revoke it. it wasn’t easy, but i had to tell them “fuck you, just fix it and don’t try to buy me off with a trinket.” the cancer thing was unfathomably worse.

Where? I dunno, your local sources of news and/or opinion? Just a guess. Does it matter really?

If someone else threatened to spend a million dollars or more to dox a journalist that is investigating their company, and to dox them over some piece of their private lives not related to their journalism about the company, prompting one of the world’s most prolific users of eye-shadow & base to speak up in support of said doxxing, it could have made BB too.


Give nothing, some say it’s bad. Give something, like here, others say it’s bad. Give more something, it can be an incentive for people to falsely claim maltreatment.

Any form of apology will find its critics. And for many, “uncontracting” the driver won’t be enough.

You cannot win.


…but to be completely fair, Pando is sort of shady.

I think this may be the crux of the issue.

If, to Kutcher, “shady journalist” = “predatory paparazzi” then his remarks are vaguely understandable.

But he needs to make it clear pretty soon that he’s learned his lesson about the difference between a journalist who’s critical of a company and someone who’s peeking over your fence to take pictures of you in your back yard.

Of course, I thought he was jerk when he was hosting Punk’d, so it’s no surprise to me he’s still a jerk.


That’s what I don’t understand about that angle on that story - from the sounds of it, she cancelled the ride, so it’s not as though a refund would be possible (someone please correct me if I’m wrong, I don’t have any experience with Uber). It’s not really appropriate for the company to give cash, so a coupon or gift certificate in conjunction with an apology and promise to do something to fix the problem seems like a pretty appropriate action.

If it were a gift card when the screw up was a kind that could be refunded (like, say, plane tickets on a flight that turned horrible), or if it were a gift card in lieu of fixing a problem that’s currently in progress, then that would be pretty offensive.

This article, however… “We’re all public figures now!”… No. No we are not. The internet does not make us all equivalent to celebrities or politicians. Neither does journalism.

It looks like they also deactivated the driver, which I don’t recall seeing in the original story. So I think the original outrage was due to the “Hey, sorry that guy abused you, all we’re going to do is give you $30 credit” aspect of it. But “Hey, we fired that guy, and here’s a $30 credit for your trouble” is a bit better.

[quote=“jandrese, post:2, topic:46574”]
Is today “Bash Uber day?” Did someone at Uber personally offend Xeni?[/quote]Very recently some high-ranking manager of Uber made an extremely nasty threat that they would spend a million dollars to hire professional stalker against a critical journalist. And now journalists, like Xeni here, are showing Uber that this is NOT acceptable.
Combine this with the fact that they have the means and the inclination to follow and trace anybody using Uber.
With a company this large it is only a matter of [short] time until some hapless contractor (a cab driver) says or does something unfortunate that journalists can use against them.


“I wonder what Ashton Kutcher thinks?” ~ No one ever


From what I’ve read here & elsewhere, I’d say that US taxi companies need more, and proper regulation, cos they’re terrible. Do you have to take any kind of extra test over there to be a cab driver, or is a standard licence enough?