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The controversy over the death of a Saudi Arabian journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, prompted Silicon Valley to reconsider its ties to the world’s largest oil exporter.
On October 2nd, 2018, Khashoggi, who often was critical of his home country’s government, entered the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul and never left the building. Many tech leaders including Steve Case, the co-founder of AOL, and Dara Khosrowshahi, the CEO of Uber, announced that they were not going to attend Saudi Arabia’s annual investment forum in Riyadh. The controversy highlighted the extent to which tech startups rely on Saudi Arabian investors.
The kingdom’s Public Investment Fund, for example, invested $3.5 billion in Uber and has a seat on its board. While companies like Uber cannot simply ignore political issues and have to respond to demands of their employees and customers with regard to their ethical stances, they also cannot easily give up hundreds of millions of dollars in fees and consultancy work.
1. Silicon Valley’s TBL responsibilities for “people” and “profit” are in conflict. Why do international corporations need to address ethical questions that relate to politics?
2. How should Uber respond to similar issues moving forward?
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