Yesterday, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi took to the company's official blog to reveal some majorly disappointing news: In late 2016, company executives learned that two hackers accessed user data of over 57 million Uber users around the world, as well as over 600,000 Uber drivers in the United States. In an attempt to hide this information from regulators and the public for over a year, Uber paid $100,000 to the attackers, who promised to delete the data.

Here are some details, per Bloomberg's breaking report:

  • The stolen data included names, email addresses and phone numbers of 50 million Uber riders around the world
  • The personal information of about 7 million drivers was also revealed, including about 600,000 U.S. driver's license numbers
  • No Social Security numbers, credit card information, trip location details or other data were taken (according to Uber)

Bloomberg's report reveals that upon learning of the breach, Uber was legally obligated to report the hack to both regulators and drivers whose license numbers were taken. Instead, the company decided to pay off the hackers "to delete the data and keep the breach quiet." One likely reason for this is at the time the breach was discovered, Uber was already negotiating with U.S. regulators who were investigating the company for different claims of privacy violations.

"Effective today, two of the individuals who led the response to this incident are no longer with the company," wrote Khosrowshahi. Bloomberg identified these two individuals as Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan, who reportedly led Uber's initial response to the hack, along with Craig Clark, a lawyer working under Sullivan.

Khosrowshahi's response

It's become clear in recent years that the company's culture and previous philosophy are catching up to it. While picking fights with regulators while simultaneously deceiving workers, customers and others helped the company to move fast and gain publicity, it's now causing the company to systematically implode.

However, Khosrowshahi not the first executive to attempt a major turnaround.

Both Steve Jobs and Howard Schultz were able to change the trajectories of their respective companies, Apple and Starbucks. And Douglas Conant, who himself described the culture at Campbell's as "toxic" when he took over as president and CEO in 2001, focused on reestablishing basic values such as respect and good communication to win back the support of his people.  

Since Khosrowshahi took over as Uber's chief executive just two months ago, he's been adamant that much of what got Uber to its current position won't help it moving forward. He reiterated that position in yesterday's blog post.

"As Uber's CEO, it's my job to set our course for the future, which begins with building a company that every Uber employee, partner and customer can be proud of," he writes. "For that to happen, we have to be honest and transparent as we work to repair our past mistakes."

Removing two of the major players in this scandal is a good start.

According to his post, Khosrowshahi and the company have also taken the following measures:

  • hiring Matt Olsen, co-founder of a cybersecurity consulting firm and former general counsel of the National Security Agency and director of the National Counterterrorism Center, to help guide and structure the company's security teams and processes moving forward
  • notifying individual drivers whose driver's license numbers were downloaded, and providing them with free credit monitoring and identity theft protection
  • notifying regulatory authorities
  • monitoring the affected accounts and flagging them for additional fraud protection

"None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it," writes Khosrowshahi. "While I can't erase the past, I can commit on behalf of every Uber employee that we will learn from our mistakes."

"We are changing the way we do business," he concluded.

Will Khosrowshahi's promises, along with the aforementioned measures, prove to be enough to turn Uber around?

Put simply, no. Culture change takes time, and Uber is only beginning the long and difficult journey that lies ahead.

But for the first time in a long time, Khosrowshahi is giving Uber fans something they've been desperately craving: