A top Uber executive is to talk about “what happens when it goes really, really wrong” at a Brighton conference – just weeks after the multinational taxi hailing app company was refused a renewal of its licence here.
Uber’s head of cities, south and east of England Eugenie Teasley is giving the keynote speech at Wired Sussex’s Talent 2018 festival next month.
It’s not known what exactly she’ll be talking about – but Uber’s recent history will give her plenty of PR disasters to choose from.
The loss of its Brighton and Hove licence (pending appeal) followed the loss of its licence in London and York. Brighton and Hove City Council said they did not consider Uber “fit and proper”, flagging a 2017 data breach, the use of drivers from outside the city and accusing the company of misleading councillors.
Transport for London raised concerns about Uber’s corporate responsibility, in particular over safety checks and failure to report serious criminal offences. An appeal hearing is due next month.
Uber is also battling an employment tribunal ruling that its drivers should be considered employees, rather than independent contractors, which means the company would need to pay them minimum wage, holiday and sickness pay – and has also just lost a test case in the EU which makes it more likely it will be liable for VAT in the UK.
It is currently embroiled in a scandal over scores of US drivers being accused of sex attacks – and has only just dropped a requirement for victims to enter into mandatory arbitration and sign confidentiality agreements. A class-action suit from women who were sexually assaulted by drivers is pending in court.
Last year, 20 Uber employees were fired over claims of sexual harassment following an expose by a former female software engineer, a scandal which claimed the scalp of chief executive and co-founder Travis Kalanick, who was accused of not doing enough to address the issue.
The same month, an Uber executive in India was fired after improperly obtaining the medical records of a woman who was raped by one of the company’s drivers. This week, the executive announced he was suing the company for wrongful dismissal, accusing a number of executives – all women – of targeting him.
Ms Teasley is due to speak on Wednesday, 6 June at the Sallis Benney Theatre. Other speakers due to join her include Claire Hopkins of Ideal Networks, Tom Chute from Pragmatic, Caroline Walmsley of Further my Future, Ed Hickey of DabApps, Chris Ricketts of Turn10 Consulting, Rob Verheul of Graphite Digital, Mariam Crichton of Every1 Mobile and Helen W. Kennedy from the University of Brighton
The previous day, a jobs fair is being held at the Brighton Dome from 11am to 4pm, featuring dozens of local employers, with talks from Clearleft, Legal & General, Propellernet, Think Nation, Brightwave, Ocasta, Dabapps, Wired Sussex and Hare Digital
And on Thursday, a portfolio clinic will be held at the Sallis Benney Theatre.
Phil Jones, managing director of Wired Sussex said: “As a regional digital cluster our goal should be nothing less than being the best place in the UK to attract and nurture the talent we need to grow and thrive. Talent2018 demonstrates how we can make that a reality when we work together.”
Richard Dixon, head of digital development, Legal & General said: “We are excited to sponsor Talent2018 and show off L&G’s Brighton digital delivery team! If you care about technology, agile, web security and accessibility, and enjoying what you do, we have a home for you.”
Ed Hickey, commercial director, DabApps said: “Brighton’s digital sector and community continues to thrive. Attracting and retaining the best people is key to all of our future success.
“As a local employer and an active member of this community we are proud to be involved in an event that engages, and focuses on, the next generation.”