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Uber investor calls power struggle grand and moral

Commentary: Employing phrases such "swimming in a crucible" and "shackles of servitude," the man trying to bring peace to Uber offers a lyrical and pleading statement. Or something.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


PORTUGAL-TECHNOLOGY-WEBSUMMIT

Shervin Pishegar, right, leaning Uber toward the literary?

Patricia De Melo Moreira / AFP/Getty Images

Many words have already been expended about the cesspit of soap opera and scandal that is Uber.

Few, though, can have engendered eyes shut wider than a statement issued Wednesday by Uber investor Shervin Pishevar. (Full text below.)

The co-founder of Sherpa Capital has been trying to bring an end to the torrid tension between Benchmark Capital --  seen as instrumental in removing Travis Kalanick as CEO -- and other board members. (Kalanick is currently being sued by Benchmark, which was an early Uber investor.)

His statement comes just as Uber confirmed that its new CEO will be former Expedia head Dara Khosrowshahi. 

Actually, "statement" seems an insufficient description of what some might see as angst and lyricism meeting in a dive bar over far too many pisco sours.

Allow me to offer you the first paragraph. It isn't a short paragraph, so please relax as much as you can.

"Let us take this pause in this moment, when we find ourselves swimming in the crucible of one of the grandest business and moral battles of our generation, and find strength in each stroke of our proverbial digital pens, that we wrote with the indelible, eternal and permanent ink of righteousness."

Please forgive me for scraping my nib of righteousness onto these pages, but grandeur and morality seem as distant from the behavior of Uber's leaders as the pope's eyebrows are from my fingers as I write.

But Pishevar had only just begun.

"We write with the souls of thousands of lives saved, the lives of millions of jobs created liberating multitudes of drivers from the shackles of servitude to iniquitous taxi cartels of corrupt cabals that choked cities with their pollution of air and morals," were the next many words.

Has he been binge-watching "Game of Thrones" lately?

I reached out to Pishevar, as well as Benchmark and Uber. Neither immediately responded to a request for comment.

Still, I've re-read the whole note  several times and find a handful of phrases won't leave my, well, nose and throat. 

Sample: "We devote our actions to a just cause; to defend what is right and to protect the interest of not only shareholders but most importantly the far more important stakeholders of employees, drivers and customers whose lives have been forever altered by the abiding faith and fervent hard work of Travis Kalanick and the Uber team." 

Has your life been forever altered because you can now catch a cab a little more easily? 

But wait, on the other side of this faith and hard work that have changed your life are, apparently, the rapacious. 

It seems as if the fervent goodness of Kalanick and his cohorts was confronted by an "unholy alliance of perfidious greed devolving rapidly into the audacity of vituperative unparalleled predatory rapacity."

Let's see if we can grasp the meaning here. The company accused of trampling over local laws and, well, perhaps even some federal ones wasn't perfidiously greedy nor even predatorily rapacious? 

Uber gave an awfully fine impression of not always being, well, fervently good. It seems more likely the company was populated by Robin Hood clones. 

Still, Pishevar ends his sermon with what looks like a call to arms. 

"Let our just cause give pause to those who would ever dream of ever emulating the shameful shenanigans of these sanctimonious hypocrites who fling filings and letters de haut en bas; when it is we who have the higher moral ground and our letters and filing will hail down upon their platforms, exposing them as bitterly barren barons of moral turpitude," he says.

I want to believe that his statement is tongue-in-cheek. I want to believe that these aren't the words of a louchely licentious lord of the lexicon -- and I use "licentious" in its more ancient meaning here.

But, oh, it's hard not to think of this as a tale of money-adoration and ego-satiation, with two groups of self-regarding Silicon Valleyists, desperate for love and sympathy and deserving only of a slightly scornful snort.

Let us take this pause in this moment, when we find ourselves swimming in the crucible of one of the grandest business and moral battles of our generation, and find strength in each stroke of our proverbial digital pens, that we wrote with the indelible, eternal and permanent ink of righteousness. We write with the souls of thousands of lives saved, the lives of millions of jobs created liberating multitudes of drivers from the shackles of servitude to iniquitous taxi cartels of corrupt cabals that choked cities with their pollution of air and morals. We write with the spirit of Bonnie Kalanick, who raised her son with deep unconditional love and unfading faith in his ability to do good for the world. Whose tragic and untimely death was used against her son at his most vulnerable, unspeakable time of pain. They chose to strike at a moment of a devoted son's retreat and leave of absence to mourn the absence of the inviolable love of his mother. In doing so, they joined the very corruption her son had devoted such fervent passion to fight. In her memory, we devote our actions to a just cause; to defend what is right and to protect the interest of not only shareholders but most importantly the far more important stakeholders of employees, drivers and customers whose lives have been forever altered by the abiding faith and fervent hard work of Travis Kalanick and the Uber team. Their allegiance was met by this unholy alliance of perfidious greed devolving rapidly into the audacity of vituperative unparalleled predatory rapacity.

Let us strike tomorrow with the full and fulsome courage of our convictions. Let our just cause give pause to those who would ever dream of ever emulating the shameful shenanigans of these sanctimonious hypocrites who fling filings and letters de haut en bas; when it is we who have the higher moral ground and our letters and filing will hail down upon their platforms, exposing them as bitterly barren barons of moral turpitude. And as the summer sets, we let us be steward of truth who in unison proclaim: fiat justitia ruat caelum.

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