When you hilariously joke about digging/threaten to dig up dirt on journalists who are critical of your company, as Uber Executive Emil Michael did to intense backlash last month, what do you think happens next? What are those journalists, who by definition write news stories, going to say and do?
Well as you may have anticipated, Buzzfeed, who broke the original story of Michael's remarks, has dug up the dirt on the dirt digger upper. Yesterday the website revealed that the Senior Vice President of Business "went to war" with his landlord, filed a restraining order against him that a judge later dissolved because it was ridiculous, menaced a gardener with a baseball bat, and at one point threatened to call in his "friend" the SFPD chief.
Let's set the scene: Michael's (former) residence is a 2,000-square-foot Pacific Heights condo overlooking Alta Plaza Park. Michael signed a $9,500 a month lease in June 2012, but the rent has since been raised to $13,335. It's got a garden and hot tub, which sounds nice, but more on that garden later.
Michael asked his landlord to fix one of his bathrooms, but found the visit invasive, even though the repairs request had been made. Then, two months later, Michael picked up a baseball bat to confront a stranger in the garden, who was in fact the gardener.
“I am at home this morning [sic] and the gardener appeared in the backyard,” Michael wrote in an email to his landlord “You provided no notice for this If this happens again, I will be forced to call the police.” Then the executive made what now look like classic threats to his landlord: “Finally, I want to be clear that I am free to post to my tens of thousands of social media followers the true facts regarding your entry into parts of my apartment ”
Later, Michael filed a petition in SF Superior Court for a restraining order against the landlord “I am under constant emotional duress that a stranger can enter my apartment without notice requiring me to defend myself posing constant fear and a dangerous situation,” he wrote.
When a mediation between Michael and the landlord failed, they took the matter to court, where a judge said during a hearing, “Having listened to all of the evidence, I’m finding that this is a borderline frivolous case... It doesn’t even come close to meeting the statutory standards of by clear and convincing evidence.” The restraining order was dissolved.
Most outrageous are the remarks Michael made regarding SF's Chief of Police, made in an email: “On the other hand, if you trespass on my property, I will have you arrested and my friend the Chief of Police of SF will make sure of it.” Buzzfeed went to an SFPD spokesperson who said that “Obviously, what Mr. Michael types in his emails is out of our control. But I can guarantee you that the chief himself will not be getting involved in any civil disputes or civil investigation.”
The landlord terminated Michael's lease in April, two months before it was set to expire. He wrote to an Uber board member regarding the dispute and included some sample aggressive emails. As a result, Michael is threatening to sue his landlord for over $100,000 in damages related to the dispute, such as “breach of contract,” “attorney fees,” and “emotional distress.”
“My experience of Emil Michael as a tenant accords very closely with recent reports of him in the press as an Uber executive,” said Michael's landlord to BuzzFeed News, implying that Michael the executive and Michael the tenant were in fact the same, abhorrent person.
Revelations of Michael's original threats may have been the straw that broke journalists' backs, but Uberbacklash is now in full force with the SF and LA District Attorney's offices suing the transportation network company.