Uber's CEO reaches the end of his ride
I know as you're reading this, you're probably properly tired of reading about Uber and its woes, but so much has happened in the last two weeks it's hard not to make that the focus right now.
After months of turmoil, Uber's CEO Kalanick has resigned from the company. Not so much resigned, but gently pushed – but he's indeed gone, permanently.
The move comes after the release of the Eric Holder investigation into sexual harassment at the company. The investigation, which was spurred in large part by Susan Fowler's incredibly honest, public blog post about her time at the company, concluded with the firing of more than 40 people in one swoop.
Indeed, Uber is now trying to reinvent itself as it pledges to reform the company, intentionally build its culture and behave better in cities around the world. It remains to be seen if that can be achieved, but what's interesting is how frequently this pattern can be observed in companies that are caught using aggressive, law breaking tactics in pursuit of explosive growth trajectories.
This year alone we've also seen Theranos implode due to misleading claims about its technology, prominent VCs accused of large scale harassment and Zenefits lose a CEO and become the center of an investigation for cheating regulators – Silicon Valley has a huge problem with staying within the lines, or even treating people like human beings.
Some say Uber should be dismantled as it can't be saved, but I don't believe that to be true – the culture is indeed toxic, but is likely to be salvaged successfully (the sheer scale of Uber's cashflow is a sight to behold, and one investors won't let go of easily), if the right measures are taken to ensure the company's culture is rebuilt with intent. If anything, the cleanup will be aggressive as investors prepare the company to go public as soon as they can.
I agree that the practice of normalizing breaking the law by labelling it as 'disruption' should be discouraged, but that line is clearly a difficult one to walk – and Uber didn't even look to see where that line was.
The Silicon Valley startup machine needs fixing, and perhaps Uber's public falling apart will help accelerate that change.
– Read the final few hours of Travis on The New York Times