What's a tech mogul to do? / Gustavo da Cunha Pimenta
The Baffler,  March 3, 2017

Daily Bafflements

Uber-douche

What's a tech mogul to do? / Gustavo da Cunha Pimenta
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• Poor Travis Kalanick. The hits just keep on coming. Since the starry-eyed media has suddenly realized Uber is a terrible company (is one of those words redundant?), we’ve seen him lecture a driver on “personal responsibility” (the employee told Kalanick Uber’s ever-shifting policies had bankrupted him), issue an apology in which he told us he really needed “to grow up” (Don’t worry! He’s getting help!), and defend himself against more than a hundred women engineers complaining of a sexist work environment. There’s been a New York Times report on the company’s “aggressive, unrestrained workplace culture,” another on the app’s secret program to evade local enforcement officials, and a Bloomberg report on Uber drivers who sleep in their cars to stay close to the high city-center fares they need to get by. (By the way, according to some very conservative Baffler math, those drivers would need to work for 113,675 years sleeping in their cars in order to reach Kalanick’s $6.5 billion net worth).  But its hardly news that Uber sucks. As Baffler contributing editor Jacob Silverman reminded us recently, “Ethical consumerism is a mug’s game, one that can become mired in the kind of preening virtue-signaling represented by the #DeleteUber campaign. Every day we are complicit in exploitative economic transactions. Silicon Valley’s achievement has been to re-cast these transactions as liberating acts of self-expression.”

• The problem with being single? Not enough #swag, apparently. But one plucky company hopes to change that, offering a monthly subscription service that will net you a box of “full-sized, hand-selected products exclusively for fun and fabulous single women.” Says one (presumably fake) testimonial, “SinglesSwag is the best thing since my local wine store started delivering.” Sign up here to get “empowered” and “inspired.” Or better yet, click here instead and drown your loneliness in a subscription to The Baffler (new issue out next week).

• Like Uber, but for douchebags (oh, wait): tech entrepreneur Greg Gopman wants to give back after a trip to Burning Man inspired him to rethink his comments lambasting the homeless. What’s his plan to help out? Why he’ll ship the lousy bums out on a boat, of course. Asked about his “radical idea” to move San Francisco’s poorest residents all the way out into the bay, Gopman told The Guardian that

He envisions people staying for a maximum of two years and offering them job training and personal development programs to lift them out of low income brackets. The goals are lofty: he believes “someone who’s homeless can be a computer developer at Google.”

Meanwhile in Ireland . . . 

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