Updated Nov 11, 2019

Uber CEO backtracks after calling Saudi murder of Khashoggi "a mistake"

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told "Axios on HBO" that the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was "a mistake" by the Saudi government, and then he compared it to Uber's self-driving accident in which a woman died.

Khosrowshahi tweeted Monday: "There's no forgiving or forgetting what happened to Jamal Khashoggi & I was wrong to call it a “mistake.” As I told @danprimack after our interview, I said something in the moment I don't believe. Our investors have long known my views here & I'm sorry I wasn’t as clear on Axios."

An hour after the interview, Khosrowshahi called Axios to express regret for the language he used. The next day he sent the following statement:

  • "I said something in the moment that I do not believe. When it comes to Jamal Khashoggi, his murder was reprehensible and should not be forgotten or excused."

Why it matters: Saudi Arabia is Uber's fifth-largest shareholder and the head of Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund is on its board of directors.

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Uber CEO apologizes to employees for Khashoggi comments

Photo: Riccardo Savi/Getty Images for Concordia Summit

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi apologized to employees Tuesday after his interview with "Axios on HBO" garnered immense criticism over his suggestion that the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was "a mistake" by the Saudi government, the Washington Post reports.

The big picture: After the interview, during which Khosrowshahi compared Khashoggi's murder to the death of a woman in a self-driving Uber accident, he called Axios' Dan Primack to express regret for the language he used. He later provided an official statement disavowing the comments and apologized on Twitter, but not before the interview sparked the hashtag #BoycottUber.

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CEOs' allergy to geopolitics

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

If CEOs are the new politicians, many of them don't seem to have thought carefully about foreign policy — particularly about working with autocratic regimes.

Why it matters: Corporate America continues to do business with the Saudi crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman, who allegedly oversaw the beheading of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and to court business in places like China and Turkey.

Go deeperArrowNov 12, 2019

Uber CEO says Elizabeth Warren not an "existential threat"

Left, photo: Indraneel Chowdhury/NurPhoto via Getty Images; right, photo: photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images

In an interview for "Axios on HBO," Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said 2020 candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren's war on Big Tech would not be a major threat to the company.

Between the lines: Warren has previously backed Uber and Lyft drivers in their fight for living wages ahead of the companies' public rollouts.

Go deeperArrowNov 11, 2019