On Tuesday Uber boss Dara Khosrowshahi and the head of the self-driving department Eric Meyhofer stood at a meeting with all hands to polite applause.
Behind them, on a large screen, was a list of questions submitted by employees and voted on to indicate the burning questions employees were asking their leaders.
With more than 130 votes, a question came up about Business Insider's investigation into Uber's self-driving car unit last week, known as the Advanced Technologies Group (ATG).
An anonymous employee asked, "Business Insiders called the culture of ATG" toxic, citing "missing warning signs," major dysfunctions "and" rampant struggles ". Any truth?
In the months before his self-driving car killed Elaine Herzberg, Business Insider had reported on what was going on inside the unit when engineers purposely stopped the car's ability to stop quickly.
Read more: Describe about insiders criminal and questionable decisions before their self-driving car killed a pedestrian
Both Meyhofer and Khosrowshahi spent several minutes questioning, they did not bump or dodge.
But they downplayed the story, they have tried to discredit the media, implying that this is not factual, and Meyhofer even stated that the story was the result when Business Insider contacted former employees and other people who did not work in the company to find "sensational [More]
That was not true Business Insider said on Mar 1
What followed was something that later led the employees to chat about it in an anonymous chat app.
Meyhofer defended the culture by citing the results of an internal employee survey, which pointed out that the survey scored "83% for trust, 83% for teamwork and collaboration".
It turns out that these statistics are not accurate according to a source familiar with the matter.
The 83% rating refers to how employees view the company's commitment to safety. The results of the survey were not published to the staff. However, they also contain points for "trust and transparency" and not "trust and cooperation".
Then Meyhofer started with a story about his children. He told Uber staff that he knew that culture under his leadership was great because his teens wanted to visit the Uber campus while everyone was on Thanksgiving break.
"They wanted to be here," he said of his teenagers. "And I think that speaks very loud of what we built, they just wanted to be here."
After hearing the defense of Meyhofer, a handful of employees discussed him in the anonymous chat app Blind, a favorite place for frustrated Uber employees.
A blind post said: "Eric Meyhofer: Because of his response to ATG's all hands, discuss his term as head of ATG!" 141 people voted to "replace him" and 28 voted to "keep him". There are 1100 employees working for him. Of course, the survey is not statistically significant. But it does indicate that at least some employees are chatting about the future of Meyerhofer at Uber.
According to the story "My children like it here," Khosrowshahi said.
Khosrowshahi showed his support of his senior leader by saying some negative things about Business Insiders. And then he said, "We messed up" and that "we radically change how we evolve, how we test, and so on, so we went through changes, we failed."
Sources tell Business Insider that Khosrowshahi did not pay much attention to the self-driving unit in his first year because he fought so much with fire with Uber's main business, but that is now changing.
Khosrowshahi said so much on Tuesday and said, "One year before all the controversy we saw last year, we are better and stronger, and I think ATG is going through the same journey," he said.
Here's the full transcript of Meyhofer and Khosrowshahi's answers to this question from the All-Hands meeting.
Dara Khosrowshahi: All right. From anonymous: "Business Insiders Called ATG's Culture" Poisonous, "citing" Missing Warning Signs, Major Dysfunctions, and rampant struggles. "Any truth about this?"
Eric will first deal with the problem.
Eric Meyhofer: Another anonymous question. I think it's pretty important to think about how these articles are written and a little bit about the history of ATG. In the last 3 1/2 years we have gone through some sensational things here at ATG. We've really experienced challenging acquisitions, big complaints, overgrowth, significant leadership changes, and all sorts of things that can lead people to a very emotional place.
And many people – now there are 1,100 – imagine how many have gone through this journey. Many people who are no longer with us are also contacted by these media and are looking for sensational things. And they will ask people who do not work here, ask questions, disconnect them, and put together a similar article.
I think what's more significant about the culture here is, of course, being here to see it first-hand.
However, if you look at things like our final round of NPS results [aka scores from the internal “Pulse Survey”]they have 83% confidence here. 83% for trust. 83% for Teamwork and Collaboration I think that's more of an indication of what's really going on here.
And then I want to take a few more minutes and tell a personal story that I think she says a lot about how it is here. So this weekend was the Thanksgiving weekend and I was free this weekend, which was pretty nice.
So I spend time with my family, especially with my kids and my son, who is 14 years old, my daughter is 15 years old. And it's Sunday. And I say, hey, it's the last day of the break. What you want to do today? And they wanted to come to Uber. They wanted to come to work.
They wanted to be here. And I think that really speaks aloud for what we built. They just wanted to be here.
And I do not know what we went through, how we got together as a team, what we enforced in # 39, what our results are and what we still need to show in # 39; I can do it hardly expect.
I am very proud of what we have done and who we are. So I do not know how to justify what this article says with truth and reality. But it's sensational and it draws people into their media channel and that's what they want. But we have to take such things with a grain of salt and focus on what the truth really is.
Dara Khosrowshahi: Thanks, Eric.
If I look at this from my point of view, I'd like to encourage everyone, if you scan the headlines "Business Insider", that's a sensational magazine. Not a place where you visit the facts.
That is, I think this article reflects the fact that we at ATG have undergone a lot of changes. And every time you make a lot of changes, right, there's a leadership change that Eric talked about. This year, a tragic accident occurred. These changes have changed the way we do things, as well as a number of people in the business.
And that will lead to some people who do not agree with the new direction of the company, and some people who can look back and say, you know what? We messed up X, Y and Z Incidentally, we messed up X, Y, and Z because we radically change how we evolve, how we test, and so on. So we went through changes. We failed. I do not think this article is a true reflection of what happened through ATG. But it reflects what is true. We have been through a lot. And I think our test is now: Can the team build something better together? My bet is yes. And we have to prove it now behind this bet, and I think the ATG team will be better, closer and stronger.
But what we have to acknowledge, which is absolutely true, is that it was hard.
And our job is to get better and better as a company. I think Uber has and will. We are somehow going through this journey of getting through and I think this is one year after all the controversy we saw last year, we are better and stronger.
And I think ATG is going through the same journey and I think it will end up being "better" in the same place.