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Private Equity Titan Spoils Uber's Moment Of Wokeness

Probably best not to give David Bonderman the mic.
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The dark clouds that had been gathering over Uber for the past several months finally burst Tuesday with the release of Eric Holder's report and recommendations on the company's sexual harassment epidemic. The all-hands meeting – chaired by board member Arianna Huffington and attended by what remains of Uber's decimated executives ranks – promised to be a turning-point, a coming-to-grips with the company's retrograde gender politics and a chastisement of temporarily embarrassed Travis Kalanick at the hands of an influx of accomplished women newly installed at the highest ranks of the company.

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Then David Bonderman opened his mouth.

In leaked audio of the meeting published by Yahoo Finance, the TPG partner can be heard chiming in with a little Texas color at what could likely be scientifically proven to be the worst possible moment for an old white guy to chime in with a little Texas color. Huffington had just finished extolling Uber's progress toward true inclusion of women, particularly on the board. Then:

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: There is a lot of data that shows that when there is one woman on the board it is much more likely that there will be a second woman on the board.
DAVID BONDERMAN: Actually what it shows is it’s much likely (sic) to be more talking.
ARIANNA: Oh, come on David! You-- [nervous laughter] Don’t worry, David will have a lot of talking to do as well.

The exchange, first flagged by Yahoo's Julia La Roche, is a magnitudes more to hear in audio as it is to read on the page. It would be too shallow to call it a gaffe or a misstep. It's more likely a masterpiece of tone-deaf old-white-guy-ism, an exemplar of sexist irony that both vindicates Uber's diversity efforts and renders them ridiculous. It's like a first-time Alcoholics Anonymous meeting-goer pulling a cork to celebrate his achievement. It's a triumph.

Bonderman, of course, apologized. Not in the meeting, but after, in a statement apparently mailed to HR chief Liane Hornsey and subsequently leaked:

I want to apologize to my fellow board member for a disrespectful comment that was directed at her during today's discussion. It was inappropriate. I also want to apologize to all Uber employees who were offended by the remark. I deeply regret it.

Welcome to Uber 2.0.

UPDATE: Bedtime for Bonderman



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