Business

07.15.14

Can Rudy Giuliani Rescue Uber?

The ridesharing app’s drivers have variously been accused of rape, kidnapping, and abuse. Now it’s bringing in the former New York City mayor to audit its background check process.

The background check process for drivers working for the popular ridesharing app Uber could probably use a little work. The $17 billion startup has been plagued by accusations that safety is not enough of a priority. Seemingly in an effort to reverse that narrative, Uber announced on Tuesday that it would subject itself to an audit, to be carried out by former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani.

CEO Travis Kalanick posted to the Uber Blog on Tuesday that “safety is foundational to the Uber experience” and thus “we are undergoing an audit by former Mayor of New York City Rudolph W. Giuliani and his security team at Giuliani Partners, who will review Uber’s driver background check process and related systems."

Back in March, this reporter wrote about being stalked online by two Uber drivers—and how the company lied about its privacy policy.

Other Uber customers have been physically harmed or threatened with physical harm.

On New Year’s Eve, a 6-year-old girl in San Francisco was hit and killed by an Uber driver.

In April, an Uber driver was charged with fondling a passenger in Chicago.

Barely a week ago, Uber was hit with a claim that a passenger was kidnapped and trapped in a vehicle by one of its drivers in Washington, D.C.

But as damaging as those events may have been to the startup, the worst may have been last month, when an Uber driver working for UberX, the lower-end version of Uber, was accused of physically abusing a passenger, subsequently was charged with battery, and then was found to have a felony conviction.

That, of course, raised the question: Just how thorough are Uber’s background checks if someone with a felony conviction can slip through the cracks and work for the company?

Of all the security teams Uber could have chosen, it managed to pick the one likeliest to get the company the most press.

Reached for comment recently, a spokesman for Uber, Lane Kasselman, assured The Daily Beast that the Uber driver in question had passed the company’s background check process. Not exactly comforting!

In his blog post, Kalanick said: “Mayor Giuliani’s review will be rigorous and span months,” which is probably for the best.

Oh, and it also will be high-profile. Of all the security teams Uber could have chosen, it managed to pick the one likeliest to get the company the most press. It’s a good thing the Kardashians aren’t in the security business.