Bob's Gutsy Leadership Blog

Uber: Inventing a Company vs. Running a Company

Uber, the ride hailing service, has been a remarkable success.  This competitor to the traditional taxi business now operates in 570 cities worldwide.  On the other hand, the company faces an enormous number of issues, many of which are self-inflicted.  Here is a list of a few of the recent problems which have caught the public attention and no doubt tarnished the image of the company:

• The company lost its head of communications, President, and many other senior executives as it faced allegations of sexism and sexual harassment in the workplace.
• A video was made public showing the CEO arguing with an Uber driver regarding the pay structure of the drivers of the company.
• The Justice Department is probing allegations that Uber used an app to thwart authorities who were trying to determine if the company was following local regulations.
• The company placed its CEO on leave as part of a 47 step plan that an outside legal team issued after a full investigation of the sexual harassment issues mentioned above.  That individual has now resigned.
• In India, an Uber passenger is suing Uber for obtaining and mishandling of her medical records after she was raped by an Uber driver (who was convicted and is now in prison).
• Topping it all off, Uber posted a $708 million dollar loss in its most recent quarter and said its head of finance is leaving the company.

So where is the Board of Directors of this company when all of this is going on?  Actually, it appears that they simply don’t recognize the fact that this company has grown to a point where you need some professional management talent running it.  Instead, one of them recently published an article citing the fact that Uber was still in war with its competition and that wartime CEO’s need to “violate protocol in order to win.” Fortunately, several key independent investors emerged and forced the CEO’s resignation.

The board consists primarily of top management employees and venture capital investors.  These individuals tend to come from backgrounds of inventing things and launching small companies.  That’s not what Uber is today.  When you are generating over $3 billion of revenue per quarter and operating in almost 600 cities worldwide you are a going corporation; no matter whether you are publicly listed or still private.  The company badly needs some strong seasoned leadership that has plenty of battle scars in running large organizations.

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