Breaking Down The Wildly Inappropriate Email Uber’s CEO Sent To All His Employees In 2013

Breaking Down The Wildly Inappropriate Email Uber's CEO Sent To All His Employees In 2013

Sending company-wide emails is tricky business. Any grammatical or spelling errors? They’re going to get picked apart. Message doesn’t carry any weight? You’ll hear some audible groans from the bullpen. People start replying all? Well, that’s when you’re completely fucked.

But the much-maligned Uber CEO didn’t have any worries in the world when he sent this 2013 email, which just surfaced. He left no stone unturned and pretty much told all of his employees to turn Miami into their own personal orgy (you know, as long as they didn’t work super closely with the party they’re trying to take home to The W Hotel).

Reading excerpts of this email wouldn’t do it justice, so obviously it deserves the full breakdown.

Per Recode, all original text in quotes.

* * *

From: Travis Kalanick

Date: Friday, October 25, 2013


If your CEO is tossing all caps and multiple exclamation points into his subject lines, you’re in one of two camps – your company is either shutting down and he’s lost his mind, or he’s mentally unstable and has lost his mind long ago. It’s the equivalent of your mom signing every text message with her name at the end as if it’s a letter and not an iMessage.

To: Uber Team

Hey guys, I wanted to get some important information out there. I’ve put together a Q&A that we can use when other folks ask what we’re doing here, and have some DOs and DON’Ts for our time here in Miami.

You better read this or I’ll kick your ass.

And here we have evidence that he has already, in fact, lost his mind. While I’m no Peter Thiel, I can tell you this – probably don’t send threatening verbage like “I’ll kick your ass” into emails addressed to your subordinates. Or, you know, your entire fucking company.

Q&A – If I’ve missed anything, or you just have a random question, please reply to all on this thread!

What kind of monster requests people to actually reply all? Being caught in company-wide email exchanges is my personal hell.

Q: What is Uber doing here?

A: Uber has recently rolled out to its 50th global city. We are celebrating this company milestone and others and have organized a local grassroots movement to help bring Uber to Miami. #MiamiNeedsUber

Are they having this party if their 50th global city was Des Moines? Nah. Did someone plan ahead and make sure Miami was their 50th despite it being a major American city that should’ve been atop the list? Of course. Uber wanted a party in the city where the heat is on, and that’s what they got.

Q: What does the Chinese symbol 九 stand for?

A: 九 translates to the number 9. It is a symbol that has internal meaning at Uber but is something we do not discuss externally.

Having alternative meaning for a Chinese symbol in your startup is the most startup thing I’ve ever read. It’s douchier than the way Ehrlich says, “Aviato.”

Q: Is this an Internet bubble boondoggle?

A: It’s a celebration of a major milestone for the company, as well as a chance for us to hold a company-wide retreat and organize our efforts globally. It’s the one time that everyone in the company can meet in person all the people we work with every day.

I, like you, had to look up what “boondoggle” actually meant.” Turns out it means, “work or activity that is wasteful or pointless but gives the appearance of having value,” which is essentially the exact definition of what millennials do for Instagram. That being said, if you think I’m not going to throw a house party and call it a “boondoggle” in the near future, you’re insane.

I have gotten a list of concerns from the legal department. I have translated these concerns into a clear set of common sense guidelines. I’ve also added a few items of my own.

I work closely with our legal counsel in non-legal counsel-y ways (read: he’s my boss), so I know a thing or two about legal departments. The first rule is that you should never put what they have to say in Layman’s terms because it’s likely you’ll change or ruin the entire meaning of what they had to say.

And that’s exactly what Travis Kalanick did.


1) No lives should begin or end at 九

This is pretty much saying, “Have sex with a coworker tonight. They’re only your coworker while you’re in the office. Super tight he used “九” in this sentence, though.”

2) We do not have a budget to bail anyone out of jail. Don’t be that guy. #CLM

Yes, you do. You’re fucking Uber and bailing someone out of jail for pissing is, like, $250.

3) Do not throw large kegs off of tall buildings. Please talk to Ryan McKillen and Amos Barreto for specific insights on this topic.

If you have to explain this to your employees, you 1) have an incredibly irresponsible staff in the first place and 2) you know you’re about to throw an absolute shitripper.

4) Do not have sex with another employee UNLESS a) you have asked that person for that privilege and they have responded with an emphatic “YES! I will have sex with you” AND b) the two (or more) of you do not work in the same chain of command. Yes, that means that Travis will be celibate on this trip. #CEOLife #FML

And we’ve reached peak-Silicon Valley douchebag.

He should’ve ended that statement after the first seven words – “Do not have sex with another employee.” But then he hit us with an all-caps “UNLESS” and everything got thrown out the window.

Firstly, no one has ever consented to sex with a “YES! I Will have sex with you,” except maybe a robot developed by a multi-millionaire. Looking at you, Kalanick. Secondly, unreal power move saying that he can’t have sex with anyone because he’s literally in charge of everyone. What a knucklehead. And finally, if your CEO ends a sentence with the hashtags #CEOLife and #FML, run. You’re destined for hell in the near future. Google News Search “Uber” to see what I mean.

5) Drugs and narcotics will not be tolerated unless you have the appropriate medicinal licensing.

I’m surprised he didn’t hashtag #WinkWink #NudgeNudge after this.

6) There will be a $200 puke charge for any public displays on the Shore Club premises. Shore Club will be required to send pictures as proof.

To quote Olaf Sanderson from Mighty Ducks 2, “$200 for puking? Well worth it.”

Wait, that’s what he said, right?

7) DO NOT TALK TO PRESS. Send all press inquiries to Andrew – Additionally, stay vigilant about making sure people don’t infiltrate our event. If and when you find yourself talking to a non-Uber (look for the wristband), keep confidential stuff confidential… no rev figures, driver figures, trip figures… don’t talk about internal process, and don’t talk about initiatives that have not already launched.

What are the chances Kalanick was seen at the door of this party letting in every Miami 10 (which is a Des Moines 15 for those keeping score at home) without a wristband only to spill secret information in hopes of getting laid? 99%? 99.9%? 100%?

But let’s get to the do’s.


1) Have a great fucking time. This is a celebration! We’ve all earned it.

This is essentially saying, “The first rule of our Miami launch party? THERE ARE NO RULES! #StartUpLife” But I enjoy that he shows his #CoolCEO side by dropping a fuck-bomb.

2) Share good music. Digital DJs are encouraged to share their beats poolside.

Uh, what? That’s rule number two? Sharing good music with digitial DJs? I don’t even know what a “digital DJ” is. Isn’t that just an iPhone or Spotify playlist?

3) Go out of your way to meet as many of your fellow uberettos as you can.

We really trying to make “uberettos” a thing, man? Is that what we’re doing here? Couldn’t we just stick with “uberites” or “ubes” instead of “uberetto”? It sounds like something I’d go to France to eat; not what I’d call my co-workers who are in charge of a company that has a $50 billion valuation.

4) If you haven’t figured it out yet, Miami’s transportation sucks ass. #Slang as many Miamians, drivers, influencers as you can as passionately as you can and let them know why Uber will make this great city an even better place. Every slang matters. #MiamiNeedsUber…

ABN: Always Be Networking. Even if it’s with cabbies and #influencers.

5) If someone asks to meet the CEO and Founder of Uber, kindly introduce him to Max Crowley.

A live look-in at Travis Kalanick typing this end-of-email zinger:


If that joke doesn’t get some, “YES! I Will have sex with you” reactions, I’m not sure what will.

Email this to a friend


Will deFries (Twitter / Instagram) is a Senior Writer at Grandex and the world's foremost authority on Sunday Scaries (Twitter / Instagram). Email me at

24 Comments You must log in to comment, or create an account

Show Comments

For More Photos and Content

Latest podcasts

Download Our App

Take PGP with you. Get

New Stories

Load More