Uber vs. Tesla: Musk Sends Much Tougher Tweets

An Uber driver in San Francisco. Is a ban coming?. (Photo: Jason Tester Guerrilla Futures [CC by 2.0]/Flickr)

Uber cares enough about me to inform me, via email, that it “is excited to announce a promotion with Chelsea Football Club to deliver the team’s new kits for the 2015-16 season directly to riders, free of charge!”

You’d think there’d be more important things on the car-sharing company’s mind, such as its $7.3 million fine and potential suspension from doing business in the state of California. Seems a judge for the California Public Utilities Commission has ruled that Uber — with which it has had a contentious relationship — hasn’t complied with the agency’s data-reporting requirements.

According to the Los Angeles Times:

Chief administrative law judge Karen V. Clopton of the CPUC contended that Uber has not complied with state laws designed to ensure that drivers are doling out rides fairly to all passengers, regardless of where they live or who they are. She said Uber’s months-long refusal to provide such data is in violation of the 2013 law that legalized ride-hailing firms.

Uber has 30 days to pay and is appealing, but the fine is chicken feed for such a high-value company. An Uber spokeswoman, Eva Behrend, did get back to me in fairly short order, however, declaring:

This ruling — and the associated fine — are deeply disappointing. We will appeal the decision as Uber has already provided substantial amounts of data to the California Public Utilities Commission, information we have provided elsewhere with no complaints. Going further risks compromising the privacy of individual riders as well as driver-partners.

But, at least on social media, Uber doesn’t appear to be coming out with all guns blazing in its home state.

Travis Kalanick
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick at LeWeb in Paris, 2013. He makes gestures, but not so much on Twitter. (Photo: Adam Tinworth [CC by 2.0]/Flickr)

CEO Travis Kalanick is known to be an aggressive guy who doesn’t pay much attention to diplomatic niceties or protocol when his company enters a new market. But as tech-oriented as the company may be, it’s fairly conservative with social media, announcing things like a group of female engineers.

Kalanick’s own Twitter feed isn’t used much. This is his latest, from several days ago:

Far more entertaining is the feed of another hot-headed CEO, Elon Musk. When the NewYork Times ran a piece questioning the range of the Model S, Musk started firing away on Twitter immediately. And it was hardly surprising that he took issue with some of the stuff in Ashlee Vance’s generally favorable book about him, posting:


Oh well, we can’t all be entertaining. Uber did post a tweet this week attacking New York Mayor Bill De Blasio’s proposal for a cap on Uber in the city. “This means that wait times for Uber rides would double or even triple, and more than 10,000 New Yorkers would lose job opportunities overnight,” the company said. And WNYC.com is reporting that Uber is doing more than talking--it's "blanketing the airwaves" with ads that claim De Blasio's cap would disproportionately hurt minorities.