tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg March 3, 2017 10:00pm-11:01pm EST
♪ announcer: from our studios in new york city, this is "charlie rose." gillian: good evening. i'm gillian tett of "the financial times" filling in for charlie rose. it has been a busy week in the tech industry. shares of snap inc. opened at $24 thursday morning, pricing its initial public offering above the market range. the company behind the disappearing photo app went public and evaluation twice as expensive as facebook in 2012. meanwhile, uber, another darling of the tech sector, has suffered from a string of recent scandals, the latest involving a video of c.e.o. travis kalanick berating a driver.
we have been here before. a decade ago, wall street was riding high and producing dazzling booms and scandals. how do we make sense of what is going on in the tech world? is the tech bubble about to burst? joining me is max chafkin who is a writer for bloomberg businessweek who has been covering uber. president of a global communications firm, and william cohan, a contributor to "vanity fair" and author of "why wall street matters." i am very pleased to have them all at the table. max, i would like to start with you. one of the things that put uber in the spotlight is this extraordinarily video of released of travis in a cab arguing with an uber driver. this comes on top of the scandal when a female employee wrote a blog saying it is a sexist place to work.
it is a combination of a pr nightmare for the company. max: it has been an extraordinary month for uber. you did not mention the delete uber campaign. that started in january. this video came to our beat reporter, eric newcomer, it was passed to him by a driver. it is clearly a dash cam video of travis kalanick, the c.e.o. of uber, getting into a spirited debate with a driver. it kind of reminds me of the joe the plumber video where you have a lot of uber drivers who have long felt the company does not always have their best interests in mind and you have a driver suddenly voicing those concerns and being treated in a dismissive way. gillian: one of the reasons this story is so fascinating is all these ride-hailing apps is embedded in almost all of our lives these days. i could not survive without these apps.
and yet as you say, there is so much controversy about the way the company is being run. what do you think this shows about the company culture and in particular about the personality of travis? max: i would argue it is all tied up. one reason uber has been very successful as they have been able to overcome opposition from taxi industry lobbyists and unions. in a lot of cities, the taxi industry is heavily regulated and they have adopted an aggressive approach.
unbelievably focused on growth at all costs. when you look at the sexual harassment thing, you have a company -- and i don't know exactly what is going on inside the company. but when you talk to people there, you have a company singularly focused on growth to the point i do not think they cared about anything other than hiring a lot of people very quickly. the whole function of h.r. at a place like uber is hiring. it is not making sure bosses are behaving appropriately. it is not policing these things. unfortunately, that comes from the top. some of that is on the c.e.o. and from the senior managers and board of directors. gillian: you have this crazy hubris. you have a lot of money swirling around. you people so busy doing their jobs they get disconnected from the real world. it sounds a bit familiar to me. bill, you have spent the last few years looking at crazy behavior on wall street. what do you make of this? william: this is a classic narrative arc to me. one thing we like to do, the business press loves to find these darlings like travis or mr. snapchat and sort of build them up, make them seem almost mythological. make them seem larger-than-life.
we like to build them up and build them up. part of the reason the uber story has gone viral is because it has a $70 billion valuation. it is a private company. i would argue, and we had this discussion last year talking about the new establishment list and everyone was saying how great travis is and we have to put him at number one. i said this is a taxi company. we are valuing a taxi company at $70 million. gillian: it is something we all use. william: it is still just a taxi company. everyone was saying it is much more than a taxi company. you don't understand it is the , way we will have everything delivered. i think we have priced for the jetsons. i think when you begin to say travis is a regular guy, it is kind of like a taxi company. and here he is in the back of a taxi abusing a driver. the sexual harassment blog was stunning.
as soon as i read it, i knew. gillian: one of the former uber employees who was a software engineer talks in detail about how she was 3% of the employees were women and they were subjected to extraordinary treatment. max: she would report it to h.r. and h.r. did nothing. gillian: this sounds so reminiscent of the banking center a deacde ago. is tech the new banking sector? william: it certainly has become a darling like the banking sector was in terms of people coming out of graduate schools wanting to go in the tech sector. they do not want to work investment banking anymore. even reporters do not want to cover investment banking. they want to cover the tech sector. gillian: you are in the hot seat, congratulations. richard, your job is to go around firefighting and deal with companies that have messed up spectacularly.
you don't represent uber. if you were advising travis right now, what would you recommend he does? he came out with this extraordinary statement which was in my mind in some ways encouraging. he said he needed leadership lessons. he said he needed to grow up. like the rest of the tech sector. do you think that is the right approach for a c.e.o. to take right now? richard: i think he was really smart in trying to staunch the bleeding and apologize wholeheartedly without reservation. he was very clear that he had messed up and that he had a lot of work to do. i think there is much more to play out here. i think max is correct. the sexual harassment initiative arianna huffington and the former attorney general are leading is deeply important for
the company to get done. there's a special investigation by these two outsiders brought into basically fix the culture. she is helping to lead it with holder as an outside counsel. i think it will be a fundamental look at, do we have a problem? if so, what are we going to do about it? further, i think travis has to establish himself as a person who accepts he is running a big company and he is not just an entrepreneur anymore. this arc has been followed by many in a successful way. i look at a person who actually started -- steve jobs and others matured over time in the c.e.o. job and made significant strides. hopefully, travis can do that. gillian: you have a survey that comes out once a year which
looks at the level of trust amongst people in 18 different countries in different business sectors. the reason i first noticed that is because i used to write about the banking sector. unsurprisingly, trust in banking completely collapsed after the financial crisis. what was amazing to my mind is trust amongst consumers in the technology sector has stayed skyhigh. these guys have been like gods. do you think that is dangerous? do you think we will see a cracking of that skyhigh trust as a result of these scandals? >> the tech industry has benefited from cellphones and other sorts of products people use every day that continue to somehow be affordable and the sense that somehow they are good employers. the idea somehow that they are not good employers gets around, that is really corrosive. the idea somehow that c.e.o.'s are entitled, really problematic. you will remember from the data, a huge drop in trust in c.e.o.'s
this year across every one of the 28 countries we did the work in. c.e.o.'s are down there with government officials. a great place to be. gillian: i think journalists are even lower. richard: in fact, the opportunity for technology is substantial. you have people interested in health care or sustainable cities. i think the arc is different to technology. i wanted to disagree with bill slightly. i think there is a record here. ebay have made substantial philanthropic -- bill gates also -- and have been activists in the foundation world. gillian: they can try to buy their way into a halo. having seen wall street go from god to devil, to becoming everyone's favorite piñata if you are a politician, do you
think that could happen with tech? if you were running your own massive p.r. company, what would you be advising technology companies do? >> i think there is a chance it happens with tech. it is because of this arc of the narrative. i think we, regardless of the industry, i think we like to build up these titans of industry. when they stumble, we like to tear them down. once it is not a great place to work anymore, everybody is flocking to tech because they perceive it to be like google plex. free food all day long. you can take your skateboard with your computer and go to your little nook. if you want to take a nap, you can take a nap. it seems fabulous. -- it seems fabulist. i think a lot of people on wall street who were forced to work really long hours, and i have written stories about people on wall street who committed suicide because of the long hours, wall street between the
financial crisis and long hours has gotten a very bad reputation which they have not been able to dig themselves out of. if that arc begins to change for tech, i think you are going to see -- it is interesting. mba's, graduates of our leading universities vote with their feet very quickly. they are like traders in that regard. they will go into a hot industry when it is sexy and exciting. when stacy -- once they see a crack or it is not giving them the image they want for themselves, they immediately go to something else. gillian: max, i'm curious because you cover the tech sector and not just uber. all of this is happening as we have had ipo's with crazy valuations. it sounds like 2000 all over again. the amazing thing about the snap ipo today is we have come out with a price of 50% on the first day. snap's business is not growing that fast. it is threatened by other rivals and is not giving its shareholders any voice. max: i think it is important we
are comparing tech today to tech in 2000 or banking to look at are these companies creating value for consumers. that is one thing getting lost here. you brought it up. people really like uber. their numbers are increasing every week. branding problems aside, a business like that has value. snapchat, yes, we can make fun of it. it is sort of silly, but teenagers and people in their 20's are spending enormous amounts of time with this app. it is one we may not totally understand as older folks, but it is getting a lot of attention at a time when mainstream media companies are struggling. you look at what espn is going through, what some of the news networks are going through, they are struggling to find younger users. not just younger users who will click on a link but sit in front of it for hours at a time.
when people are paying skyhigh valuations for snapchat stock, that is what they are banking on. they think this is television and snapchat owns television. gillian: that is a great point. as a parent, i do not feel like value to the much world. you make a good point because clearly these businesses are thriving now. back to uber, one thing interesting about the video that caused this scandal -- or today's -- or yesterday's scandal is a conversation travis had with the driver. he said we are not dropping the price on black. then the taxi driver says yes. he goes on and says we have competitors. if we did not drop prices, we would be out of business. in my mind, that is an interesting wrinkle. it suggests maybe this uber miracle is not so miraculous after all and is more fragile than we realize. max: i think he is right.
i think he realizes it is fragile. i think a lot of people who see the skyhigh valuations do not understand it is easy for consumers to move from uber to one of these other startups trying to build companies on top of uber's driver network. the thing that is even scarier if you are sitting where travis is sitting, it is easy for drivers to move. if you get into an uber today, you will notice they have two or three smartphones for different apps. because uber's model is attractive to investors because these drivers are not employees, they are contractors, uber cannot tell them went to work or not. but that is a double edged sword because they can leave at any time. they can two-time uber as much as they want. because so many investors have poured money into uber's competitors, those companies are able to subsidize payments to drivers. uber is in a box even though it has enormous valuation.
>> i have found uber drivers will badmouth uber and tell you you're better off if you use get or lyft. gillian: you have actually had people say don't use uber? >> an uber driver said you -- this is not the reservist. you should use get or lyft. to your point, these companies, snap inc., uber, they are like networks. they have a lot of eyeballs now. they have a lot of people engaging with them. i think there is a lot of value to that. i don't understand the valuations. $70 billion for uber. to me, is just a taxi company. ♪
♪ gillian: one of the interesting angles about this whole thing is the question of sexual harassment and the climate for women in silicon valley. by the way, i think it is fabulous we have three men talking about this because i think most of the time it is women talking about women's issues and it needs to be a joint conversation. but if you believe companies have to work hard to hang onto employees, one of the most interesting things right now is we are about half a million people short of employees in america now, stem employees. at the same time, there are only
70% or 80% women in computer sciences in america. one question is, is there any way to make these cultures in silicon valley less macho? people talk about the bro grammer's culture. how do you get women into silicon valley. richard: you don't do it if you -- with susan. gillian: the employee of uber. richard: happy to be an engineer, assigned to a group at uber she was happy about, and then basically mistreated miserably. unfortunately, wall street does that same thing or has a history of doing that same thing. gillian: they come out with this p.r. glossing that we love women. and then don't do anything about it. richard: how many women are on wall street? it is an infinitesimally small number. gillian: is it generally worse in silicon valley, do you think? richard: i think it is probably better in silicon valley.
it seems like culturally it is a more forgiving -- you can have more flexible hours. you can work from home. you can do those things more helpful to women if they choose to be that way. on wall street, i remember when we got the first woman. why do we have to have a woman? there was one woman who was a banker. somebody suggested another woman. the edict came from down on high saying, why do we need a second woman? we have one already. [laughter] gillian: i have been there. what do you think, max? you cover these companies. you do get some women at the top like sheryl sandberg. you do get people joining the company at the bottom. what happens in the middle in terms of the lack of women? max: it is interesting. to bill's point, if you pull the average silicon valley worker aside and poll them about gender, they believe in equality of pay and basically are
horrified by the allegations in the blog post. but as a whole, because these companies are not super sophisticated in hiring, you end up with a culture overwhelmingly male. there are all sorts of interesting ways silicon valley investors talk. one is that they talk about pattern matching, where you try to squint at a company like, -- you like like facebook. , and you look at another company like snapchat and see if they are similar. that pattern matching thing is basically discrimination. that is what that is. i think that is the cultural thing that is more insidious than the general bro-ey-ness of silicon valley. >> if you have a $70 billion market cap, and you are proclaiming your h.r. department is only in the business of hiring and not providing help to women in rooting out this bad
behavior, i just don't get that. max: i think uber especially, but a lot of silicon valley companies value description. that gets thrown around a lot, but uber is a big company that was not acting like a big company. it was acting like a startup. in a startup, you do not care about the possibility of getting sued for sexual harassment. if you're thinking very hard headedly. all you care about the survivint the next six months or 12 months. that is insidious no matter what. it is super-insidious when we are talking about a company that employs thousands of people. they, for what ever reason, because their investors did not demand it or was not able to get to the top were not able to get , there. gillian: when travis says i need to grow up, he needs to grow not just as a human being, his company needs to grow up. he needs to recognize he is managing a big company. the tech sector as a whole needs to grow up if you like. i'm curious, richard. you are in the business of dealing with nightmare problems. what do you do about the women
in silicon valley? richard: i think the women in silicon valley are part of a bigger exercise for the tech industry. this is the industry that in my mind is going to get at the greatest risk from president trump. it has the biggest challenge on supply chain, immigration, lgbt. gillian: in what way? richard: in a certain way, the workforce is deeply diverse, deeply global. the supply chains are deeply global. they do not base their business on a made in america kind of label. they have to sell in china, mexico, and make sure their data is secure in those places for the local governments. they are at cross purposes with an administration that is unilaterally focused on american jobs and american security and closing the bridges in a certain way. i think the tech industry has to
lead the fight in a way for that which is america as part of the world and america as the leader in decency and the values that are global values at a time and that is not necessarily so popular. i think all the c.e.o.'s in silicon valley have to work with the administration but also stay true to what they believe in so they keep their employees. otherwise, they lose that, they will really be in trouble. >> i think that is why travis showed some leadership when he came out against the immigration ban and stepped off the c.e.o. council that trump formed. i think he showed, that was a good travis kalanick moment. he has had a couple of bad ones since then.
but absolutely, silicon valley is more dependent on these kind of -- not only the brainpower but the diversity of a workforce more than probably any other sector in the country. and so, that is why they are up in arms against the so-called immigration ban. gillian: if the immigration ban is imposed, the skill shortage will get bigger. which again comes back to the question of whether you can get more women into computer science. i am curious. do you agree with richard that the tech sector is potentially vulnerable to not just a consumer or liberal backlash over women's issues, but also a political backlash from president trump? max: i think they are boxed in, in a big way. on one hand, trump is asking c.e.o.'s to work with him in one way or the other, whether keeping jobs or showing up on advisory boards. as richard says, the vast majority of employees at uber and all of these companies voted for democrats and donated to
democrats. they do not want to work for a company that is seen as not as accommodating, somebody they do not like politically. i do think there are ways trump and tech may end up being closer than people realize right now. i don't know that tech will end up being this bastion of resistance. you look at a couple of large companies that have seemed to cozy up to trump, intel and oracle. somebody like elon musk, who is a dyed in the wool liberal guy. he wants to stop climate change, he is on a committee with trump and has said nice things about rex tillerson. when you look at trump's economic nationalism, there are ways in which silicon valley , which is a large part creating ., appeals to.s that. i don't think it is obvious to me this is going to be some battle with trump on one side and silicon valley on the other
side. gillian: do you agree? >> i don't. i think it is inevitable there will be a lot of tension on trade because of the supply chain, particularly mexico and china. also security and privacy. this administration is deeply focused. i also think there is a terrific opportunity for tech to take the initiative in explaining retraining of employees. there will be 3 million people who drive trucks for a living who are going to be having to have different work in 10 years. no one is addressing this. i really believe -- gillian: driverless cars and trucks. it is one of the ironies of the uber story with the taxi drivers. in 10 years time, there may not be anymore taxi drivers. richard: i don't know why the tech industry would not say -- look we will fund specific , training programs and 25 cities across this country and others that help people make this transition and make sure
these drivers have the skills necessary for 10 years out. that would be responsible. that is something travis could do for people at uber. gillian: is it time the tech >> my view is a classic role for businesses is to be actor and innovator. now you have to be involved in making public policy and helping make these transitions on automation. it has to get out of this traditional box. it is not just for halo purposes. it is to make sure they have a viable business model 10 years on. >> and so they attract the best and brightest people because this millennial generation, my children, they want to work for a business where they can have a full, well-rounded life. gillian: would your children
work for uber, do you think? as engineers or whatever? max: one of my sons was to be a politician. the other wants to be a writer. i don't know they will work for uber, but i think they want to have a balanced life. i hear this hours are punishing, and the competition is punishing. it's hard to have a balanced life even though wall street tries to do a lot to ensure people don't work every weekend, but they find people are so competitive that they demand they don't come in on a sunday. this new generation wants balance, and i think that is one of the great appeals that google has had, that notion, you can skateboard your way through the office while you are feasting on free food. it's ironic, because it keeps you there much longer than you otherwise would be. it's kind of brilliant. google epitomizes the company
that people want to work for. >> also, a lot of these tech companies, they enable change. if health care can be somehow addressed by having people with devices or medical records, this is something tech can own and make change as they did with cell phones, something that makes them important and sympathetic. gillian: i would like to come to another issue, which is, one of the things that makes this so compelling is there he is in the back seat of a cab, being filmed by a camera on the dashboard, and it somehow found its way to bloomberg. getting filmed as we go about our everyday business, and it makes compelling viewing, watching what somebody in an unguarded moment doing. you see travis with his cell phone.
if someone put a camera on the dashboard of the taxi i drove around in everyday, what would you see? i'm curious. do you think there is any chance there's going to be a backlash against this constant scrutiny? >> we saw it a little bit even after publishing the video. there was some discussion about where the line is. from our point of view, it was newsworthy. huber's relationship with its drivers is at the core of their company, and they were directly speaking to that. one of the things that is scary about tech broadly is the way it is eroding privacy. gillian: is it standard practice for kluber drivers to be filming passengers? >> it is pretty common in black cars in general to use cameras
as a security measure. gillian: i see both bill and rich pretty shocked. how many of you knew you were being constantly filmed in the back of the car? >> you are being filmed everywhere. if you are in new york, you are filmed in the subway. you are filmed everywhere. you think when you go by trump tower you aren't being filmed ? you are being filmed. we know the nsa can listen to our phones when they are not on an film us when they are not on, and people are putting tape over the camera on their computer because they are afraid of getting filmed. gillian: this is what i find fascinating. one way to look at this is, this is so scary. the other way to look at it though, actually, this is a major victory for democracy and the power of the people. at the end of the day, it was a taxi driver who forced travis into this apology.
10-20 years ago, taxi drivers wouldn't have had that power. if you think back to your days on wall street, what would have happened if you had cameras filming stuff happening on the trading floor or in offices behind closed doors? william: it would not be pretty. what i can't imagine, we live in the society, whether it's been the last 10-15 years -- we should know we are being filmed. everything we do is potentially discoverable, findable. police cams, we have caught so much police crime on film we never had before. we knew police were abusing sectors of the society, and now we can prove it. that is leading to change. even knowing that everything is being filmed or everything could be filmed, it's amazing. why would travis act that way in
the back of the cap? gillian: he didn't know there was a camera. william: i don't act that way anyway. if you are an adult, you don't act in a certain way. you comport yourself with acer -- a certain decorum. gillian: can you say with a clean conscious if you had been filmed nonstop in the back of a cab four years you would be ok? william: i think basically what people would see is my wife and i looking at our cell phones and going through our emails. >> i would agree with you. i wouldn't want every camera in a cab. the way in which people are communicating is not top-down anymore. it is peer to peer. the most credible person today is a friend. gillian: unpack that a little bit.
what is fascinating about the surveys is they show trust has shifted away from people having trust in their leaders to people having trust in their facebook friends or snapchat or instagram or twitter friends. >> the key difference is frequency, authenticity, that which is novel, as opposed to experts. your parliamentarian said, we are sick of experts in the u.k. the fact is, that is why employees matter more than ever. if it is going to be a peer to peer conversation. in a certain way, travis's comments undermined that kind of
mutual respect between service provider and employee. gillian: or you can say the tremendous irony of the story is essentially he died by his own sword, and he created the system that gave taxi drivers the power to rate people and have their voice heard. guess what? they used it against their own boss. >> how many times do we see that happen over and over again? you see this in "the ft." look at gawker. talk about dying by the sword. they got hoisted on their own petard, and you may argue about whether or not it was right that elon musk funded the litigation -- peter thiel funded the litigation, but they made themselves extremely vulnerable. ♪
gillian: is this actually a story about the power of consumers and the power of employees to overturn abuse of power? max: i think that is part of it. in the long run, kluber -- uber, this will be good for uber. i think it is telling that huber -- uber rather than saying, this is not a new story, they apologized. they realized this is a real thing their drivers are really talking about.
as angry as the driver was, i think he did them a favor by putting this out there. a lot of times, this more transparent world we live in is better for the world than it otherwise would be. >> i think the central issue for the tech industry is trust. look at facebook and google and fake news. to what extent were they a part of the election outcome, and what is the future for germany and france on fake news? i believe deeply that the smart tech company will put this on their badge and say, we are going to be trusted by our constituents by behaving in a certain way as a company that sees 10 years out and takes on the big issues of the time. i think there is a bigger expectation of tech companies,
that they were born of the people, and they have to represent the people. max: i think corporate activism is a potential problem here. one of the things that has made it a challenge for the tech industry to deal with sexual harassment is they have this idea that the tech industry is more meritocratic than everybody else, that they are somehow exceptional, and that makes it harder for whistleblowers to be heard. this idea that tech companies are somehow good or better -- i don't know -- i think it's really lovely as someone who writes about tech, but i also think maybe it's not totally real. we would be better off treating them as businesses that want to make money, not businesses that save the world. >> i actually say, look how diverse the leadership is. look how many ceos are of indian descent or something. that is not true in other industries. also, to the extent you can have an entrepreneur-driven company
that can be built to be big and keep going, it's different that way. >> i think it would be healthy for silicon valley to be taken down a peg, frankly. not only in the valuations of these companies but in our estimation that they are somehow changing the world. and we need to bow down to them as some sort of uber gods, no pun intended. it's gotten a little out of control. just as it did in 1999 and 2000, and then it was little or he -- literally vaporware. now they've got legitimate businesses that make a lot of money, but they are not gods. i think we can see that with travis and the way he has behaved and the way people in his company get treated. we all need to be more civil and
take a step -- unfortunately, we have a leader in the white house who has fomented unrest and a lot of bad feelings and made it ok for people to be abusive to one another, and that is reprehensible. i think we just need to take a deep breath. gillian: is the message for anyone sitting there in the office of any type, feeling that they have this boss, abusive people in charge, people they are dealing with they don't like, is it to get out your cell phone and get filming whenever you can? is that going to be the new check and balance? >> it's very easy to say that, but it's also really scary. i've known a lot of whistleblowers on wall street who had the guts to come forward and talk about abuse that they saw the leading up to the 2000
eight financial crisis. what did they get in return? they got fired in return. if you want to put your career on the line, and richard would know about this as well as anyone, then you should take out your cell phone. susan was trying to work within the system to reform the hr department at uber. she obviously felt like she reached a dead end, and all she could do was resign. now there will be some change. >> she got another job though, which was great. william: that is what you are forced to do. good for her that she went public, and apparently, they are going to face -- hopefully, this report that holder and arianna huffington are doing is not an internal, whitewashed thing. i hope it gets released to the public. i hope it's very detailed. i hope it ruins other people's careers at uber who are treating women this way. richard: but, i you know, gillian, i think this goes well beyond the tech sector. it has to do with corporate strategy. united airlines, oscar muniz comes in and says, we have had an adversarial relationship with
the unions, including the continental merger. he said, i don't like this. i'm going to try to change this deal. we are ranked number eight out eight airlines on so many things. i want to make a deal with unions. i want to have better service. i want to have a better service, so let's make this a win-win. he's raised salaries, and he's gotten much better performance. united is third in baggage. this actually becomes an explicit decision by the leader to say, ok, i can fix this. gillian: do you think uber is going to find a way to learn from this and move forward? at the moment, they are hunkering down to the reason we don't have anybody with uber tonight is because they're uncomfortable talking about this. there is a lot of soul-searching going on within the company. do you think this could be a turning point that revives them? max when they are at this : position, it's hard to see how it could do anything but get better. it's been a bad six weeks for them.
i think -- i am not 100% sure of who's going to be in charge of uber in a couple of years. gillian: you think travis might be pushed out? max: i think it's unlikely, but when you have this much bad press, you start to wonder if someone like travis might say, it would be better if someone else is running the company. somebody that is less controversial. no matter what happens at the top of uber, yeah, this is healthy, and they will get better. and i think -- on the other hand, you have companies like lyft trying to capitalize on this. one way or another, that driver that business is going to exist. , people will use it. maybe it will be uber. maybe it will be lyft. but that is a real thing. william: companies do recover from this.
netflix, when reed hastings split the company in half, and he wrote all those blogs and got all of his shareholders angry at him and the stock tanked, and i wrote a "vanity fair" article about him at that very moment, and then it's like a miracle. it got completely turned around. carl icahn bought into the stock at that low point. he made five times his money, and the company became a darling again. this is a clear moment where if you are a smart, corporate leader, you take the bull by the horns at this very moment and change your corporate culture and show that this can never happen again. travis has to do that if he wants uber to get into the good graces of not only potential employees, but investors and customers. he's the leader, and he is misbehaving. that is unacceptable. gillian: america loves a comeback story. do you have any examples you would point to where individual leaders have messed up badly and come bouncing back?
richard: i would go back to iacocca at ford. i mean, you know, howard schultz came back at starbucks, and he had been a great entrepreneur. he turned the business over to someone. he became chairman. he got interested in a basketball team, and then he came back in 2007 just in time for the great recession, and he brought his team to new orleans and said, we have to fix this wreck from the hurricane, and we've got to stand up for our communities. he completely turned that business. i believe smart leaders can take this moment in time to get out there, lead from the front, but it has to be on the basis of having a great core relationship with your employees. here is where the test will come for travis, because it's a different kind of employee. it's a sharing economy relationship. his issue is in the driver force more than his full-time
employees. also, he has the sexual harassment issue. gillian: it's one of the great ironies where you are being hoisted by your own petard. uber has been profitable because it did not have these permanent employees, but because of that, your business model is more fragile, and they may be more -- less loyal in that way. max: there's a very interesting labor story, and i don't know how it's going to play out. uber drivers and sharing economy workers are a new class of employee that the world hasn't figured out what protections they deserve, how much they need to get paid, and i think that is going to be a big story over the next decade or couple of decades as more of us stop having full-time jobs either because we have been replaced by robots or because more people adopt these contractor roles. gillian: what do they say, there are 50 million self-employed workers in america?
-- 53 million self-employed workers in america? as you say, these are not covered with any traditional safety net. max: i think it's important to say that driving for uber is a lifeline for a lot of people. uber doesn't just operate in new york and san francisco. it operates in the rust belt and where my mother lives in kenosha, wisconsin. it's a way you can make money in places where it is very hard to find jobs that pay anything at all. as much as travis and uber have screwed up, it is worth recognizing that they have created opportunity for people, both in terms of opportunity for passengers and also for drivers, and i think that is part of what makes this story hard and complicated. gillian: it is what makes it so emblematic of modern america , both good and bad. in some ways, this is the
american dream. it's also good for democracy with people with cell phones fighting back. it is also very challenging. william: the trump voter is actually very pro-business. it gives you a license in a certain way. business is the most trusted institution by those people who haven't made their minds up about whether the system is working or not working. business has the chance now, and uber has to be part of that drive to get to a place where the results are good for the worker and for the customer, as well as the shareholder. that's the dream. william: can i go back to something richard was talking about earlier? you are talking about retraining, maybe uber could create some sort of fund to help people get retrained. one of the biggest mysteries to me in this election, the so-called trump of voter is somebody feeling left behind economically by the last eight years of the obama administration, and they don't have a fulfilling job.
they don't make the income they would like to. they feel like they have lost out somehow, and they are crying out to be retrained. i don't understand how you are going to retrain these people. are you going to take somebody who worked on an assembly line and in an auto plant and sums -- somehow transport him or her to silicon valley and have them type in code it? i don't know how that is going to work. that is one of the big mythologies, that we are going to retrain this workforce that has been left behind. i don't know how it's going to happen. gillian: the other point is, if they are contingent workers, why would a company want to retrain them? max: i have done some reporting around driverless cars. driverless cars could take a lot of jobs.
however, in the middle term, between five and 10 years, there are going to be tons of jobs created to help make this possible. that includes engineers, but it also includes safety drivers. these are people who sit in the driverless car and operate the computer that is operating the car. that's a pretty good job that requires some training but not a lot of training, and it's the kind of job that would be trained by the employer, by google or uber. i spent some time looking at trucking companies. there are lots of visions for how driverless trucks might work , but truck drivers, that is a huge sector of the economy. it employs a lot of men without college degrees. what will happen is, those people are going to be employed. they are just going to be computer operators. if you are a truck driver, your job is going to change. it will require certain skills, but it's not like you have to become a coder. you just have to help operate this machine.
richard: i also think tech companies should use this moment in time to begin to turn the globalization debate. this idea somehow that america has been deeply disadvantaged by trade is so fallacious. the tech companies are the winners in ip, in selling products through a global supply chain. they have affordable products they can sell through walmart to that otherwise people couldn't afford. the home ecology around job loss is just that. this is an important topic that the business community, compared to nafta -- the job on tpp was so poor, and it was all led by government, totally opposite to 20 years before on nafta. this is a moment for the tech companies to stand up, and not just them, the customers, the dry cleaners, the small business person running on a pc that costs $700 instead of $1200 --
this is critical to the success of the economy going forward. gillian: this is where tech and the economy coincide. next time i hail a lift or an uber, i will think about this being the symbol of the american dream for both good and bad. thank you for a fascinating discussion. thank you, max, richard, and bill. and best of luck in figuring out what will happen next. thank you. ♪
alisa: i am alisa parenti and you are watching "bloomberg technology." let's start with a check of your first word news. president trump visited a religious school in florida, signaling his education agenda will focus on school choice. he began the tour of the catholic school in orlando with a visit to a fourth-grade classroom. teachers unions criticized the visit, saying it shows trump's hostility towards public schools. federal authorities have arrested a man in connection with threats made to at least eight jewish community centers nationwide and the anti-defamation league's headquarters in new york city. he appeared in federal court in missouri today. attorney general jeff sessions