If one were to name the top ten most successful startups in the last five years, everyone’s seemingly favorite on-demand car service Uber would invariably make the list. The taxi industry-disruptive service has more investors throwing more money at it than one can reasonably fathom.
Its last round in June raised some $1.2 billion from the likes of Fidelity, Google Ventures, Blackrock and Kleiner Perkins, to name a few, giving the five-year-old company an unimaginable valuation of $17 billion. With all that money, why can’t the company get its PR straight? (More on that below.)
Today we learn that the New York City industry most harmed by Uber’s nefarious ways has banded together to produce, of all things, a photo calendar featuring a selection of the city’s more seductive drivers. The calendars will sell for $14.95 to benefit immigrants.
It’s hard to say whether the calendar is simply a PR ploy to humanize this oft-maligned group in the face of unforeseen and formidable competition. I mean Jerry Seinfeld’s skit seems to put this distinct segment of NYC life into proper perspective.
Given my feelings about how Uber conducts itself in the court of public opinion, I can only wish these drivers success in reviving their fortunes. I mean with all its money, you’d think that Uber could afford an army of competent communications professionals to help it craft a more persuasive and genuine narrative.
Our friends at Buzzfeed surfaced the latest example of Uber #PRFail in a piece titled “Uber Uses The Same Statement Almost Every Time A Driver Gets Accused Of Bad Behavior.” Buzzfeed recounted eight separate incidents involving belligerent Uber drivers to which the company publicly replied the same way every time:
“Rider safety is Uberâ€™s No. 1 priority. We take reports like this seriously and are treating the matter with utmost urgency and care.”
Seriously, Uber, pay me one hundredth of one percent of your recent fund-raise and I’ll be more than happy to apply the tools of the trade to advance your and the public’s interests. Until then, lots of luckÂ trying to put our city’sÂ hairy-chested immigrant yellow cab drivers out of work.