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Uber has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons – an investigation into the $69 billion company’s allegedly toxic culture resulted in 20 employees losing their jobs and, ultimately, the resignation of CEO Travis Kalanick.
Some have taken the changes at Uber as a positive sign that Silicon Valley is growing past its “tech-bro” image.
But not Ashton Kutcher. The Hollywood star and early Uber investor thinks the ride-hailing company isn’t being treated fairly.
“How did Uber become the poster child for a problem everyone’s facing?” Kutcher said Monday evening while on stage at an event called “Tech for Good.”
In addition to being an actor and a philanthropist – he co-founded Thorn, which fights against child sexual abuse – Kutcher is also a prolific investor in early-stage startups. The “Tech for Good” event, for example, was hosted by MemSQL, a data analytics firm that counts Kutcher among its backers.
To Kutcher’s mind, there’s nothing extraordinary about what’s happening at Uber. Systemic sexism and “bro” culture are common at lots of American companies, he said. Yet it’s Uber that’s become a cautionary tale.
“It’s funny that Uber gets placed on this pedestal and whipped,” Kutcher said.
- Mike Windle/Getty Images for Vanity Fair
Instead of gawking at Uber and what it’s going through, other companies ought to use its experience to spur them to find ways to examine and improve their own cultures, Kutcher said.
“We all get to learn from our mistakes,” he said. “[Uber hasn’t] had that chance yet.”
Kutcher’s comments Monday night echoed those he made on the Howard Stern Show last week. On Stern’s show, he expressed support for Kalanick, who resigned earlier this month.
“I know his intent as a human is good,” Kutcher said on the show, referring to Kalanick. “I don’t know that removing him was the best answer.”