After a backlash over Uber’s use of “surge pricing” (raising ride prices when demand is high) amid an East Coast snowstorm in 2013, Mr. Kalanick’s response to upset riders was a torrent of economics and math.

“We did more trips because of our approach, not fewer,” he said in an interview with Wired at the time. “We gave people more options to get around, and that is the whole frickin’ goal.”

Friends and employees told Mr. Kalanick that he should at least pretend to care about how it looked to take such a hostile stance with Uber’s users. Several described him as “emotionally unintelligent.”