Uber Drivers Forum banner
1 - 8 of 8 Posts

Premium Member
3,353 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·

MARISA KENDALL | [email protected] |
PUBLISHED: March 7, 2017 at 5:01 pm | UPDATED: March 7, 2017 at 5:09 pm
SAN FRANCISCO - With Uber in the midst of an intense public backlash over allegations of sexual harassment, outrageous leadership behavior and a pattern of flouting the rules at all costs, CEO Travis Kalanick confirmed Tuesday he is looking for a second in command.

A week after Kalanick acknowledged he needs to "fundamentally change as a leader and grow up," the company founder said he will hire a chief operating officer - effectively surrendering to an outsider a portion of the power he holds over his $68 billion empire. But some industry experts wonder whether a new executive will be able to change the offensive aspects of Uber's aggressive culture without sacrificing the spirit that drove the company to become the world's most valuable startup.

"Hopefully that's done with a velvet glove and not a sledgehammer," said Michael Greeley, co-founder of Boston-based Flare Capital Partners and former board member for the National Venture Capital Association. "You'd hate to see the essence of that creativity get crushed."


It's a classic Silicon Valley struggle that many companies have faced - when to give a founder freedom to realize his or her innovative dream, and when to hire "adult supervision" to lay down ground rules.

Report: Uber used secret program to evade law enforcement

In Uber's case, the San Francisco-based ride-hailing company's hand was forced by a series of embarrassing scandals over the past two weeks. Now the success of the startup as it gears up for a future initial public offering, and Kalanick's continued place at its helm, depend on how it handles this pivotal move.

Kalanick revealed his plans to hire a COO in a one-sentence blog post Tuesday: "This morning I told the Uber team that we're actively looking for a Chief Operating Officer: a peer who can partner with me to write the next chapter in our journey."

Last week the CEO promised to get "leadership help" after a video of his argument with an Uber driver over fares went viral. That video followed a blog post by a former Uber engineer accusing the company of protecting a manager who sexually harassed her, a report by The New York Times that found managers had harassed and threatened employees, and the forced resignation of a senior executive who had not disclosed he was accused of sexual harassment while working for Google.

"There's an enormous amount of risk here," said Steve Blank, an expert on startup companies and an adjunct professor at Stanford University. "The question is: How many billions of dollars of valuation is lost for every one of these stories?"

Whoever Uber hires to work with Kalanick likely will start by laying down new guidelines such as codes of conduct, hiring policies, travel policies and procedures for green-lighting new projects, Greeley said. That may mean Uber's most off-the-wall ideas, such as its "flying cars," will be reined in.

Ben Narasin, a partner at Portola Valley-based venture capital firm Canvas Ventures, suggested a strong female leader such as Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer or former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao could help Uber re-shape its male-dominated company culture.

It's not uncommon for Silicon Valley companies to hire professional executives to replace or guide struggling founders who may have had little prior leadership experience. But experts agree the role makes for a challenging and delicate hire. Uber's future COO can succeed only if he or she gets along with Kalanick, and if Kalanick gives the new executive enough power and autonomy to instill change.

Google in 2001 brought in Eric Schmidt - who had experience in top executive roles at Sun Microsystems and Novell - to help founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Page, who had been CEO, and Schmidt reportedly became close friends and successful business partners, and 10 years later, Schmidt handed the reins back to Page.

Facebook has had similar success with Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, who was tapped in 2008 to provide guidance to young CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

That plan didn't go so well for Apple, which in 1983 tried to bring order to the company by hiring former Pepsi President John Sculley as CEO. A disagreement between Sculley and founder Steve Jobs ultimately forced Jobs out of his own company in 1985. It was more than 10 years before he came back.

At this point, it's unlikely Uber's investors would try to replace Kalanick, Blank said, because the tech industry tends to associate success with abrasive personality traits reminiscent of leaders like Jobs.

"As long as your investors feel they're making money, they'll deal with the behavior," he said.

Even if Uber's investors wanted to kick Kalanick out, they may not be able to. Uber's board has three insider members - Kalanick, co-founder Garrett Camp and senior vice president of global operations Ryan Graves, according to a person familiar with the board's structure. The remaining four seats are occupied by Arianna Huffington, Bill Gurley of Benchmark, David Bonderman of TPG Capital, and Saudi Arabia's sovereign-wealth fund, the person said.

While it's unclear exactly how much voting power Kalanick, Camp and Graves have - as a private company, Uber can keep those types of details close to the vest - the person said it's unlikely investors could replace Kalanick unless at least one of the other insiders agreed to the shake-up.

Some investors argue replacing a founder can starve a startup of its ability to innovate. A study by PitchBook Data last year determined founding CEOs lead their companies to initial public offerings or acquisitions faster than hired CEOs, and secure higher valuations with less funding.

"Founders build phenomenal, outsized companies," Narasin said, speaking for himself, and not on behalf of his firm. "Hired guns seldom do."

1,960 Posts
I don't expect much to change other than Uber being more careful of public image and rethinking each ambitious next step a little further before taking it

They'll never get rid of Travis, who else would knowing sit comfortably at the helm of a company that is nursing massive fraudulent lawsuits day in day out, no one is gonna wanna be him when the day karma finally catches up with what ubers gotten away with for so long
1 - 8 of 8 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.