How Uber’s hard-charging corporate culture left employees drained

By Caroline O’Donovan and Priya Anand | BuzzFeed News

At Uber, the workday starts early and ends late. Engineers working on certain teams are accustomed to predawn pings from work: Something might be broken, or about to break, and if you don’t get up and fix it, there’s hell to pay — including the possibility of an eviscerating email from a top executive, sometimes sent to the whole company.

“I felt like I was on call all the time,” said one employee. “I got texts on the weekends. Emails at 11 at night. And if you didn’t respond within 30 minutes, there’d be a chain of like 20 people.”

During periods of rapid growth, current and former employees said, on-call employees could be paged dozens or even hundreds of times a night. Even employees with realistic expectations of the hard work that fast-growing startups often demand felt burdened by an on-call system that they say often amounted to unpaid extra shifts. “There was a three- to four-month period where I was getting woken up every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 3 or 4 in the morning to fix something,” said an engineer who started at Uber in 2014 of his earlier years there. “Months of that, on top of working 10-plus hours a day.”


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