rianna Huffington is no stranger to controversy. From her criticisms of Germaine Greer’s work in 1973 to her eponymous news platform, The Huffington Post, auctioning off unpaid internships to the highest bidder, she has weathered her fair share of storms. In light of the reports announcing her new role in joining Uber’s board of directors, it’s hard to ignore the comparisons of the two companies. What initially looks like an unlikely alliance could actually be a saving grace for Uber. Aside from the public criticism these companies receive, the formation of both brands is strikingly similar. What the news platform has done to newspaper heavyweights such as The Times and Telegraph is what Uber has done to black cabs; taken an age-old service and completely transformed the way customers could access it and how employees could join.
But all is not rosy, as both companies have been criticised during their ascension; Uber for renouncing its responsibility for employee behaviour and HuffPost for leaving out a national story critical of the app when Huffington was just joining the board. Although HuffPost has recovered relatively quickly, Uber is still in trouble regarding customer safety. The latest publicised Uber incident told the story of a passenger taking over the wheel of a car whilst the driver had fallen asleep, escalating into a high-speed police chase, adding to a long list of incidents in which customer safety was compromised and Uber did not take responsibility. Although the former has recovered with an impressive amount of panache, Uber is still in the doghouse with legal troubles and a stunted global expansion.
Huffington’s new role on Uber’s board however is a chance to restore Uber’s fractured public image. Her new book, ‘The Sleep Revolution’ is an honest warning to young and established professionals about the dangers of not getting enough sleep; to stop them making “the mistakes I did” in working for 18 hours a day with 3 hours sleep, over a two-year period. It’s highly unlikely that sleep-deprived Uber drivers will be hitting headlines again on Huffington’s watch. She is essentially campaigning against the dangers of not getting enough sleep, whilst joining the executive board of a company that is riddled with issues regarding safety. Huffington has a reputation to protect and an “epidemic” of sleep deprivation to tackle. Unresolved legal issues won’t stand a chance.