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Uber CEO says he will seek leadership help after video shows him yelling at driver

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TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2014 - Day 1 Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has publicly apologized after a video showing him being rude to an Uber driver was published by Bloomberg. In a blog post titled “A profound apology,” Kalanick said that he was ashamed of his actions, and that he had now accepted that he needed help in leading his company.

“To say that I am ashamed is an extreme understatement,” Kalanick’s statement reads, referencing the assumption that most Uber employees had already seen the video in question. “My job as your leader is to lead, and that starts with behaving in a way that makes us all proud. That is not what I did, and it cannot be explained away.”

Kalanick said the issue had prompted him to make some organizational changes. “It’s clear this video is a reflection of me — and the criticism we’ve received is a stark reminder that I must fundamentally change as a leader and grow up. This is the first time I’ve been willing to admit that I need leadership help and I intend to get it.”

The apology suggests that Kalanick will aim to elevate other figures, either from within Uber or from without, to similar positions of leadership. The company has come under fire recently for fostering a sexist and toxic working culture in which managers dismiss their team members’ claims and scramble instead to usurp their own bosses. Kalanick himself has made questionable statements in the past — including his infamous “boob-er” line about his apparently increased appeal to women — and some have pointed to his cavalier management style as a reason for Uber’s wider problems.

It remains to be seen exactly how Kalanick will seek help in leading his company, but it’s clear that he needs to do something to right the ship, and soon, as Uber continues to suffer major body blows. The company is supposed to be valued at $70 billion, but it’s hard to imagine there being much faith in any firm whose CEO has to issue a new public apology every week.