Home / News / Full transcript: Former Attorney General Eric Holder and Uber General Counsel Tony West on Recode Decode

Full transcript: Former Attorney General Eric Holder and Uber General Counsel Tony West on Recode Decode

In this particular version of Recode Decode, hosted by way of Kara Swisher, Tony West and Eric Holder joined Kara onstage on the Exceptional Girl Motion Marketing campaign match in San Francisco to speak about the present spate of sexual harassment allegations and the following fallout, plus the continued criminal demanding situations that also exist for Uber. West is Uber’s new normal recommend, and Holder is the legal professional normal who investigated Uber’s corporate disorder.

You’ll be able to concentrate to all of the interview within the audio participant beneath. We’ve additionally supplied a frivolously edited entire transcript in their dialog.

In the event you like this, be sure you subscribe to Recode Decode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or anywhere you concentrate to podcasts.

Kara Swisher: Recode Radio gifts Recode Decode, coming to you from the Vox Media podcast community. Hello, I’m Kara Swisher, government editor of Recode. You might know me as an undercover Uber motive force, my alias is Sarah Kwisher, however in my spare time I communicate tech. You’re taking note of Recode Decode, a podcast about tech and media’s key avid gamers, giant concepts and the way they’re converting the arena we are living in. You’ll be able to to find extra episodes of Recode Decode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play Tune or anywhere you concentrate to podcasts, or simply talk over with recode.web/podcast for extra.

Lately we’re going to play an interview I carried out at an match hosted by way of the Exceptional Girl Motion Marketing campaign in San Francisco. I talked to former Obama management Lawyer Basic Eric Holder and Uber Basic Recommend Tony West about the entirety that has came about at Uber in 2017. Let’s take a concentrate.

Thanks such a lot. I love your entire factor about allies and tool, however I’ve were given to mention, you actually simply will have to be in energy.

Tony West: I believe that.

KS: I’m the CEO of my corporate. I boss round males all day lengthy and it’s utterly relaxing, together with my two deficient sons who’ve to place up with it. Anyway, I’m smartly referred to as a grumpy outdated girl who makes existence arduous for most commonly white younger males of Silicon Valley.

Eric Holder: That’s just right.

However now I’m shifting on right here, I’m expending. Finally, we’re going to start out by way of speaking about this concept of allies. However I do … it’s actually arduous for me no longer to begin with the truth that you’re each concerned with Uber, which is most definitely probably the most poisonous cultures I’ve ever noticed in my … And I used to be there …

TW: You recognize, he used to be concerned with Uber sooner than I used to be concerned with Uber.

That’s true.

EH: I’m the fixer, take into accout?

I’m going to preface that, that it’s no longer your fault, that it’s no longer your fault however now it’s your accountability.

TW: That’s proper, that’s proper. That’s proper.

However I don’t say that frivolously. I don’t say that frivolously as a result of I actually had been overlaying the web since Al Gore invented it, and by way of the way in which he did. He used to be there initially. I’ve been overlaying tech for 25 years in Washington, when the web used to be first made business.

I need to first get started speaking about Uber, as a result of I believe … The rationale I need to speak about it, as it does constitute the quintessence of all this is terrible in regards to the male white tradition of Silicon Valley. Let’s get started with Tony: Why the hell did you’re taking this on? What do you hope to perform? As a result of I’m going to start out by way of pronouncing, you set out a … I’ve such a lot of questions. Glutton for punishment turns out initially it, however you began out with a actually nice memo that Johana Bhuiyan, who’s within the target audience, who covers Uber and different transportation problems for Recode, wrote about.

We were given the memo, we printed it. It used to be a actually tricky memo on what the criminal state of affairs at Uber will have to be presently. I believe it used to be lengthy and damning and about some requirements. Are you able to speak about it a little bit bit? As a result of I need to speak about … as a result of this is going to the guts of coping with sexism and sexual harassment and a wide variety of different problems there.

TW: Kara, it’s great to be right here.

EH: I don’t know, Tony, I believe we’ll see. We’ll see.

[To Holder] I’ve were given some questions for you.

EH: Thank you.

TW: No, glance, I believe numerous questions, just right questions … The rationale I wrote the memo is as it had to be written. For the ones of you who will not be conversant in it, my first day, my first legit day at the activity, we introduced an information breach that had came about a 12 months sooner than. It had no longer been reported to affected events.

So my first legit day I spent at the telephone chatting with a lot of state regulators, state AGs, FTC commissioners, pronouncing, “Hello, my title is Tony West. I’m new. Via the way in which …” And over that weekend I started to actually get into — as a result of this used to be the day sooner than Thanksgiving, in fact — after which over the weekend I started to take a look at to get an consciousness of probably the most criminal problems. Early that subsequent week I realized about some practices element of our safety division have been engaged in, which concerned human surveillance for aggressive intelligence.

Glance, I’ve been in public sector, I’ve been in personal sector, you don’t should be a smartly credentialled attorney to take a look at that and say, “What the hell is that this?” So once I realized about it, I talked with Dara, who stated, “What the hell is that this?” I wrote a observe to the safety crew, who used to be at the moment, simply that day, had now been reporting to me as a result of the one that had led that crew have been terminated on account of no longer disclosing the breach.

I stated one thing quite simple, which is that first I’m in fact very proud to be at Uber. However the entire issues that you just’ve stated, which I believe there’s considerable justification for numerous what you stated, however I’m very proud to be at Uber. They’re extremely gifted folks, extremely dynamic atmosphere, doing what I actually do consider goes to switch the way forward for paintings and the way in which that we take into consideration how folks and issues transfer. Completely groundbreaking.

I stated that during my memo, however what I additionally stated used to be, I’ve additionally realized some issues. I’ve realized, and it’s reaffirmed to me that I made the appropriate choice, however what I’ve additionally realized are a few things that disturbed me. No longer disclosing the breach is one, this human surveillance for aggressive intelligence is every other.

I stated, “Glance, we don’t wish to do this.” That’s no longer who we’re, we’re higher than that. We have now higher generation, we have now higher folks. We have now a greater product. We don’t wish to observe folks round to achieve aggressive intelligence. The entirety we need to do as an organization has to leisure on 3 issues: It has to leisure on transparency, integrity in the entirety that we do and responsibility.

I need to speak about this as a result of on this case, spying on Lyft and such things as that …

TW: No, no, no, no. I’m being actually explicit. In reality following executives.

Proper, I do know. I’m conscious. What I’m speaking about is, as it led the criminal division … that is what I need to get into, is those structural programs which can be in position at those corporations that create scenarios that aren’t simply spying on folks, no longer simply hacking, however actually systematic lack of ability of the criminal departments to actually offer protection to folks at those corporations, particularly girls. That’s what turns out to have came about at Uber. It’s no longer simply girls who paintings at Uber, it’s girls who experience Uber, a wide variety of items that they’ve been as much as which have been actually irritating.

I need to communicate to either one of you about … And Eric, you probably did the Holder Document, which chronicled a wide variety of issues there, which have been myriad, which I want you may unlock as a result of I believe folks will have to see precisely the level of the toxicity so we will be able to know it. However let’s speak about the place you … We’ll get to the speculation of male allies. I believe human allies is the way in which I take a look at it. However what can criminal departments do to try this? As a result of I believe that numerous the issues at Uber needed to do with the aggregation of accountability by way of the legal professionals there who did this, who have been in a spot to mention, “No.”

We broke a tale about an government at Uber who used to be wearing across the clinical record of a rape sufferer in India so as to take a look at to turn out that she wasn’t raped. Which used to be appalling, that he used to be keeping onto a prison record on this factor. The attorney at Uber didn’t get it clear of him once they have been conscious about it. Plenty of such things as this. Are you able to communicate in regards to the obligations of the criminal division to offer protection to particularly girls? As a result of each time it gave the look of there used to be some factor round girls and the rights that have been abrogated by way of the former control there.

EH: K, smartly, you must perceive, I don’t have …

As a result of generally the criminal division …

EH: Let’s communicate in most cases, as a result of I don’t be capable to unlock the record. I believe as legal professional for the corporate there’s best such a lot I will be able to say about what it’s that we did.

Proper, [email protected] is okay. Or Sign. WhatsApp is encrypted.

EH: Yeah, that received’t get me in any hassle. However what I believe …

Your title might be “Shmeric.”

EH: Who’d know, proper?

Yeah. No, I don’t know who you’re.

EH: I believe criminal departments should be empowered. They may be able to’t be neglected. In addition they need to remember the fact that there’s a accountability, a selected accountability I believe that legal professionals have within the context of a company, whether or not that’s in govt or it’s within the personal sector. It’s in the similar approach that the justice division occupies a unique position inside the government department of the USA’ govt. We’re the watchdogs.

Proper, when it really works correctly.

EH: Yeah, when it really works correctly, yeah.

I’m regarding Trump, simply FYI.

EH: I wasn’t even going to head there, however …

You probably did on Twitter.

EH: However this night I used to be going to be great.

All proper. K, high-quality. Please don’t. Wouldn’t you somewhat be drained and successful? Communicate in regards to the position of legal professionals, as a result of I believe that’s what I’m speaking about, the place the jobs are. As a result of once more, the New York Instances as of late had every other tale off of Ronan Farrow’s tale in regards to the complicity of legal professionals, of PR folks, of the media, everyone on this. So I’d love to get to that concept of ways you create programs, the place particularly legal professionals to me are the watchdogs of that.

EH: I believe legal professionals, given the learning that we’ve got, where that we are meant to occupy in those entities, that we’re the ones who will have to be answerable for, I believe, greater than possibly every other frame of folks, the advance of suitable cultures. We’re skilled within the legislation, we’re meant to know how wherein issues are to be executed. We all know what the foundations are meant to be like. We will have to be, once more, inside of the suitable context, we will have to be the enforcers.

To the level that we stumble on problems and issues, it’s our accountability no longer best as contributors of the company, however as legal professionals, to carry to the eye of the suitable folks issues, problems. No longer best with reference to precise folks and explicit incidents, but in addition with reference to tradition. To the level that we determine cultural problems which can be having a damaging have an effect on at the entities that we’re part of, we have now the accountability of surfacing the ones issues. However additionally it is the accountability of control to concentrate to these legal professionals. It shouldn’t be tricky for legal professionals to carry to the eye of control the ones issues. You shouldn’t be penalized, you shouldn’t be noticed as an issue in case you are elevating the ones problems.

Who do you assume your constituency is, Tony? All the way through your profession, no longer simply at Uber, however who do you believe it’s? Is it the legislation or is it the folks you’re employed for?

TW: I believe it’s each, in fact. I believe it’s each. I believe since the legislation at its best possible is manifested in the way in which folks engage with one every other, so obviously it’s each. You requested the query, why did I take this activity? In reality, the chance to just do that, so that you can have the have an effect on of serving to to place in position processes and programs that in fact paintings smartly to offer protection to each folks, whether or not it’s girls or folks of colour, or frankly riders and drivers. That used to be an improbable alternative to me.

That’s actually my constituents. However you recognize, the constituency crew that you just’re additionally chatting with, I believe Eric rightly says, is control, and also you had a damaged device.

Frequently that’s the case. It’s no longer simply there however numerous puts.

TW: No, numerous puts, but it surely used to be in particular damaged, I believe is fairly. I imply glance, I shouldn’t have taken this activity and I shouldn’t have taken this problem if I didn’t consider that A) Dara Khosrowshahi used to be dedicated to actual exchange, and B) that it used to be in fact conceivable. As a result of such a lot of of the problems that Uber suffers from are self-inflicted.


One of the most issues that all the time struck me, and particularly, once more, I like to recommend studying every other New York Instances’ piece referred to as … It’s about complicity. One of the most issues that moves me, as legal professionals, that I’ve spotted is, they all the time say as an example in Hollywood, they don’t have cash, sufficient cash to … They don’t appear to have cash to pay girls to inform tales, they’ve cash to close them up. They indubitably pays them off. They may be able to do nondisclosure agreements. They may be able to do very tricky tactics no longer to speak about issues. Communicate in regards to the nondisclosure factor, as a result of that to me has been one of the crucial poisons of this entire device, is that girls are paid to not say the rest.

I believe I used to be the person who informed Uber about somebody you employed that had sexual … No longer while you have been there, however I in fact referred to as Travis and stated this particular person used to be underneath investigation for sexual harassment. He used to be like, “What?” He didn’t know as a result of they’d been handed on like a contagion from one corporate to the opposite. Are you able to speak about that factor round nondisclosure? Once more, I’d like that record once conceivable. However why does that persist, that concept of nondisclosure? As girls know, telling tales has been the facility of #MeToo. As folks of colour know, the telling of the tales, as homosexual folks know, the telling of the tales is the place the facility is living. Why as legal professionals do you regularly stay writing those fucking issues? Give an explanation for it. Give an explanation for it, how does that vary? How does the legislation exchange in order that persons are allowed to inform their tales with out this complicity, the place folks get to transport alongside and pay folks off, necessarily?

EH: For the file, I’ve by no means written a nondisclosure settlement in my profession. It’s in particular …

In reality, simply David Boies, however cross forward.

EH: It’s in particular unhealthy in govt, as I see now.

Yeah, with the Congress presently.

EH: Proper. I didn’t even know that this factor existed till the ultimate couple of weeks. That there’s a fund that permits congressmen, a few of whom have been my largest tormentors, Blake Farenthold, that fats man from Texas, has were given about $80,000 to stay quiet some irrelevant habits that he had with a feminine …

80,000 tax bucks, however cross forward.

EH: $80,000 of our cash. From my point of view, I don’t in particular just like the perception of hiding such things as that. Actual growth is made by way of the publicity of damaging habits after which what occurs to handle that habits. Having stated that, there could also be sufferers who for various causes don’t need to have uncovered the problems which can be the topic of the nondisclosure settlement. Even though extra frequently than no longer my suspicion is it’s the particular person with energy who’s pronouncing, “I can best settle if there’s a nondisclosure settlement.”

From my point of view, shining gentle on issues is the way in which you clear up issues. However it calls for a undeniable stage of bravery for sufferers to come back ahead and inform their tales. That’s a societal drawback. It’s all the time fascinating to me that it’s tricky for a lady to speak about a sexual attack in the way in which man who’s assaulted by way of a stranger in a bar, one thing like that, that’s a fairly simple tale to inform. So why will we as a society make it harder for ladies to inform their tales?

Misogyny, however cross forward.

EH: Yeah. No, no, no, there’s an enormous quantity of that. There’s a tradition factor that we need to exchange there. It all the time struck me that after I used to be a pass judgement on and when I used to be a U.S. legal professional in Washington, D.C., if a person hit a person, no query, you check out that case, that’s an attack. A person hits a girl with whom he has a dating, after which there’s a wide variety of items.

Offer protection to, allegedly.

EH: It turns into a a lot more tricky factor to adjudicate, to carry into the device. That’s a societal factor that we need to get at, the place girls are the sufferers. They will have to be no longer differentiated on account of their gender, you’re only a sufferer. You’re only a sufferer and we wish to pay attention your tales.

What about you and the nondisclosure factor? Then I’m going to speak about allies. About nondisclosure, the place does that cross? As a result of I believe to me that’s the absolute device of tyranny amongst folks, up to they are saying, “I’m serving to you by way of no longer letting you speak about your tale,” you’re no longer doing someone any favors by way of no longer permitting them to try this.

TW: I believe that’s proper, however I believe that you just do need to, in all of a majority of these case, way it from the point of view of the sufferer. I believe that has to force the research, and the place that flows, I believe. I don’t assume you … I’ve all the time believed that sunshine is the most efficient disinfectant, and also you by no means see growth within the legislation, you by no means see growth in society, while you’re the usage of the legislation as one thing to hide up, a blanket to hide up sure issues. It’s all the time a lot better in case you … Because of this we have now open courts, because of this we have now public courts, because of this it’s vital. But, I nonetheless assume on the finish of the day you wish to have to ensure, within the do no hurt roughly way, that you just’re drawing near the ones forms of problems from the point of view of the sufferer.

All proper, I need to end …

EH: Something I believe we need to actually … I believe what Tony stated, however I’m roughly getting again to what I stated sooner than. We’ve additionally were given to get to where the place there can’t be disgrace, there can’t be a subject matter in being a sufferer. Why is it so arduous — and it’s arduous and girls who do it have quite a lot of braveness — within the society as we have now built it? Why is that the case? Why is that the case?

I in fact don’t, I don’t assume numerous sufferers are as ashamed. I believe they’re bullied into being ashamed. You recognize what I imply? I believe that’s actually … and since while you say, “I’m going to make it more straightforward for you.” I believe the media has roughly had it and is beginning to post those tales, so long as they are able to get contemporaneous assertions that those folks stated. I imply, the Roy Moore factor is an ideal instance of that, is that those girls stated their tales, they didn’t wait. That they had some off the file, some at the file. Now the ladies who’re referred to as liars by way of him are actually popping out with much more. Like, “We’ve had sufficient,” even though they’ve been bullied and threatened and the entirety else, the ones kinds of issues.

Let’s end up speaking about allies, we’ve best were given only a few extra mins. One of the most issues I’ve additionally famous that I believe is actually fascinating is many of the tales that experience pop out only recently round sexual harassment and the entirety else had been written by way of girls.

All of the best possible tales on racism and problems had been written by way of folks of colour. Maximum — Ronan Farrow, a homosexual guy — who perceive and empathize and feature had sufficient of this and remember the fact that. How do you bring to mind your self as allies? As a result of I believe that it’s a vital factor, in that it’s no longer girls’s rights, it’s human rights, it’s everyone’s rights. How do you get that empathy into the dominant tradition, which is a white male tradition?

Now, they communicate in regards to the concept of the usage of VR, as an example. policeman may watch a factor and know what it’s love to be a tender black guy. I don’t assume you’ll do this as it’s a life-time of worry. I don’t know the way you do this with out setting up a chip, an apprehension chip, into somebody’s mind. How do you take into consideration that? Since you’re each outstanding males of colour, how do then you definitely use your energy that you’ve as males, as an example?

TW: There’s an actual … It’s important to be intentional. It’s important to be very intentional and really cognizant. However I can say, one of the crucial issues that this entire enjoy as we’ve noticed it spread over the past a number of months has actually introduced house to me. Glance, I’m somebody who has actually spent my whole existence very dedicated to those problems, being intentional about how I recruit and who I rent and ensuring that girls are on the desk. Raised by way of a wonderful lady, my mother, who’s within the target audience, Peggy West, someplace. I grew up with sturdy girls. Grew up with sturdy girls and actually cared about those problems.

I’ve to mention, it used to be each irritating and enlightening to come back to the belief that I didn’t totally admire simply how pervasive sexual harassment and sexual attack is. I believe therein, you flip that into what that implies is that for such a lot of people, we’re roughly like, it’s like air. That is the norm. What used to be so surprising, or so irritating, is that for such a lot of girls that is the norm, however there’s not anything standard about it. There’s not anything standard about that. So then the query is, “K, then what do you do with that realization?” For me, it starts with actually listening, no longer simply listening to the tales. I do assume one of the crucial issues I do worry is that after we pay attention the tales, and also you pay attention such a lot of and also you get started listening to the numbers, that folks transform numb to that.

That does worry me. However actually, listening to and internalizing the universality of it, so then that turns into a chance to note. To note patterns, to note how our language, how our conduct, how the programs and buildings and paradigms wherein we function in fact toughen those energy variations, which result in sexual attack and sexual violence. Then, it’s incumbent upon the ones people who can to behave. Whether or not you’re able the place you’ll act on coverage or you’ll act within the C-suite or you’ll act whatsoever that you’ll.

It’s exceptional that such a lot of … everybody in Silicon Valley, they usually’re simply the Silicon Valley ones, each lady has a tale, or six, or 10, from micro-aggressions to one thing extra severe, and each just right guy used to be surprised. It used to be, “I will be able to’t consider that, Kara.” I believe it’s both, girls weren’t speaking about it or they weren’t listening or no person used to be asking. It’s a actually fascinating factor.

Eric, I’m going to complete with you in this concept, carry it to a countrywide stage. It feels hopeless on quite a lot of ranges. With Roy Moore, you’ve were given Trump and the Oval Place of work, a protracted checklist of problems round sexual harassment. How do you take a look at it? Are you hopeless presently? How does that vary when it sort of feels like, “Oh just right God, they’re going to elect that terrible monster in Alabama, we’ve were given the president right here on those problems.” How do you take a look at the place it’s going?

EH: First off, my spouse is from Alabama and she or he used to mention that during Alabama they all the time stated, “Thank God for Mississippi.” I worry that if he’s elected, folks in Mississippi will likely be pronouncing, “Thank God for Alabama.” That’s how unhealthy it might be.

I believe we have now right here a possible inflection level that we’ve were given to carry onto and we have now were given to make it paintings for all of the certain issues that I believe it might probably probably give to us, however we will have to no longer be too constructive. Simply because it’s there doesn’t imply that it’s going to result in one thing that’s lasting and that’s certain.

There’s, I believe, the will for motion, however I additionally assume that we can’t underestimate, you all can’t underestimate the facility that you’ve. In the event you don’t assume that you’ve energy, you take into consideration the facility … Trump were given inaugurated and that used to be … All of us drank, I used to be under the influence of alcohol. However you take into consideration the facility of that march the next day to come. The next day to come, all the ones girls, my spouse and my two children had the hats with the issues on, the facility of …

Did you’ve got the hat?

EH: The hats have been there. There’s photos of me within the hat although you’ll by no means see the ones. However the energy that …


EH: ?


EH: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. The facility that used to be exhibited that day and the facility that has additionally been noticed as girls have long gone to congressional workplaces, senators’ workplaces, congressmen’s workplaces, as they have been within the means of seeking to take ObamaCare aside. We have now, you’ve got, energy. That energy needs to be used.

I’m sufficiently old to remember the fact that the folks, united, targeted, energized, stopped a struggle. Nixon didn’t forestall the Vietnam Warfare as a result of he concept the army targets have been met. That struggle used to be stopped as a result of folks have been targeted and stated, “We’re no longer going to have it.” There used to be the lack of public give a boost to.

This inflection level that we’ve got needs to be one thing that galvanizes folks, and particularly girls, particularly girls. In Virginia, boy, we noticed girls energy there. The place within the election 3, 4 weeks or so in the past, girls ran who stated, “I’m in poor health of what’s happening. I’m going to run for place of business,” and girls received. I believe girls can lead us to a greater position with the facility that they’ve, with the facility that you’ve, however you’ve were given to make use of that energy. It’s no longer sufficient to yell and scream on the tv observing MSNBC, Fox, CNN, no matter. You’ll be able to’t … You recognize, simply learn the newspaper. What’s it that you just’re doing? What are you doing to make this higher?

On that observe, we’re over the years. I need a promise from each and every of you of one thing you’re going to do. What are you going to do at Uber? I’m going to carry you to it.

TW: I’ve an entire lengthy checklist.

However what’s the only factor you’re going to do as a male best friend of the ladies?

TW: The only factor that … One of the issues that I’m going to do is ready an unambiguous tone on the best of intentionality in bringing girls into each unmarried important choice that we make at that corporate.

Proper. One just right factor that you’ve going for you is that it’s an awfully low bar, and we’ll speak about that later. What about you, Eric? After which we’ll end. I need a larger factor from you.

EH: Neatly, because the chair of the Nationwide Democratic Redistricting Committee, I’m going to … Yeah. I’m going to ensure that we’re going to have an excellent census in 2020 and truthful redistricting in 2021. And we’re going to throw out of place of business those … those idiots who’ve handed those rules who’ve perpetuated those programs which can be anti girls, anti folks of colour. I believe that we will be able to do that. We noticed it in Virginia in 2017, we’re going to do nice within the midterms in 2018, after which we’re going to place a brand new president in 2020. That’s a couple of factor however I’m going to achieve success on the NDRC, that’s my something.

All proper, we will have to all make guarantees like this. I’m going to … I’m going to announce my new formation of the Armed forces Etheridge in The Castro. Get it? You’ll be able to all sign up for. However we will have to all make guarantees. I actually admire … I began to come up with a difficult time however no longer actually, sorry no longer sorry roughly factor. We actually admire you as allies however as human beings, no longer simply as male allies however as people. Thanks.

EH: Thanks. I will be able to’t blame you.

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