[By Avery Hartmans]
When Uber engineer Susan Fowler published her now-famous blog post in February 2017 that laid bare the harrowing details of Uber’s work environment, the fallout was swift: the post went viral, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick hired investigators to review the company culture, and The New York Times published an exposé on years of toxic behavior within Uber.
But the aftereffects of publishing the post didn’t stop there. Soon after, Fowler started noticing something strange: phone calls to her friends and family from people who seemingly didn’t exist, asking probing questions about her past and her personal life.
Fowler describes the fallout of coming forward in her new book, “Whistleblower: My Journey to Silicon Valley and Fight for Justice at Uber.” In the book, she details what led her to speak up in the first place — months of sexual harassment, discrimination, and abuse that she says went unchecked by Uber’s management — and what happened after she did.
Fowler said investigators — who she believes were hired by Uber — began contacting people she knew as a child, former classmates, and even an old professor who had once written her a letter of recommendation. At one point, Fowler’s childhood next-door neighbor told her, “Someone’s digging really deep on you, Susan, and it’s scary how far back they’re going.”
Fowler said someone started trying to access her social media accounts, too, and in the end, her Facebook account was hacked multiple times, and an her younger sister’s account was hacked as well.
“The moment she told me that someone else had gotten into her account, I logged in and looked at the messages I’d recently sent her,” Fowler wrote. “I watched as they went from ‘unread’ to ‘read.'”
Soon after, Fowler described hearing rumors circulating about her and her motives for coming forward, or about her husband. Then, in March, she began worrying that someone was following her: she noticed a car parked outside her house that followed her on her commute, and had a feeling someone was watching her when she left the office.
In one incident, she came face to face with a man who was following her from work. She tried to lose him, changing directions, walking down random streets, and ducking into a Whole Foods, but she couldn’t shake him.
“I felt the panic rise in my throat, felt my heart beating so loudly I could hear it even over the chaos of the street,” Fowler wrote. “I looked around for the police, hoping to find someone, anyone, who could help me. I wanted to shout, but we were in the middle of the city, surrounded by people, and I was afraid that everyone would think I was crazy if I started screaming that I was being followed.”
Eventually, she bolted into a BART station and got on a train. Fowler said she was “followed and stalked” up until she wrote her book.
Fowler never confirmed who hired the investigators, but she wrote that she once asked Uber’s current CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, if Uber “still had private investigators following me,” and he responded that he had “killed all that crap,” describing the use of private investigators as “just insane.”
Uber did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.