- Travis Kalanick ignored employee complaints over what they felt was racist branding, sources told Insider.
- Kalanick, the former CEO of Uber, now leads commercial kitchen startup CloudKitchens.
- Kalanick reportedly said the startup did not want to accommodate woke culture.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
CloudKitchens founder Travis Kalanick refused to change controversial customer branding, despite internal employee complaints over perceived racism and misogyny, sources told Insider.
Kalanick’s startup rents commercial kitchen space to restaurant brands that focus on food delivery and pickup. Through its Future Foods arm, the company also creates and licenses food brands to local entrepreneurs looking to get into the booming business of food delivery. Former employees told Insider that they spoke to Kalanick and others about their concerns over Future Foods branding, like “Happy Ending” for dessert at an Asian restaurant.
When employees complained, they said Kalanick’s response was that his startup did not seek to accommodate the press or woke culture.
Insider’s Meghan Morris reported the branding concerns as part of a larger investigation into CloudKitchens’ culture and recent employee departures.
CloudKitchens operates “ghost kitchens,” or commercial kitchen space focused on food delivery and pickup. The pandemic has helped the budding industry take off, as consumers cut back on restaurant dining and ordered more food for delivery.
In some CloudKitchens meetings, former employees told Insider that Kalanick lambasted headlines about himself. During an all-staff meeting in 2020, he called a report that he owns a $43 million mansion “fake news.” The CEO also apparently told employees not to trust people who trust the news.
More than 300 corporate executives have left the startup since the start of the year, Insider reported. CloudKitchens was not immediately available for comment for this story and declined to comment or to make executives at the company available for interviews for the larger investigation into CloudKitchens.