Uber CEO Travis Kalanick gets booed on Colbert’s ‘Late Show’

If you want to figure out just how disliked you are, appear on a popular late-night show.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, no stranger to controversy, learned this the hard way last night, when he was slated to be a guest on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” According to reports, he was heckled by protesters in the audience multiple times.

The first reportedly accused Kalanick of destroying taxi-industry jobs — an oft-repeated accusation that Colbert allowed the heckler to make, saying he was going to bring it up in the interview anyway. Kalanick fell back on Uber talking points that the ride-hailing service pays better than the taxi industry anyway.

Twitter user @falpal_sarah, who was at the taping, live tweeted the incident.

Uber’s brand has taken a huge hit in the past year. It all began late 2014 when reports surfaced that Uber was tracking its users (and reporters) via its app. Its data-gathering policies soon became a political firestorm. It has also been fighting a series of battles with city governments — including in New York, where “The Late Show” is filmed — over how many cars should be allowed on the road. The service has specifically come under fire from the taxicab industry in several cities, which say Uber is taking away their business.

It also doesn’t help matters when Uber drivers make national news for assaulting their passengers.

Colbert addressed some of the cabbies’ complaints in a segment that ultimately did not air, but plenty of audience members said that this was a huge win for the host, who demonstrated class and calm — and pretty solid improv chops in a heated situation.

So Colbert won and Kalanick muddled through. But the biggest loser from the whole debacle? Vice President Joe Biden, who was the other guest — and got less airtime thanks to the kerfuffle. The host did say Biden should run for president though, with Colbert sharing the ticket, so at least he has that going for him.


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