Should Uber CEO Travis Kalanick resign?
via AP

Should Uber CEO Travis Kalanick resign?

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Uber continues to bleed high level executives with Uber president Jeff Jones' departure. Jones' exit was blamed on differences in "beliefs and approach to leadership." Some critics say this is proof Uber needs a new CEO. All of these problems can be tracked back to CEO Travis Kalanick and his win-at-all-costs attitude. Others say Kalanick should not leave because he's the founder—he made Uber into what it is and he's the only one who can fix it. What do you think?

The Votes Are In!

Uber has a toxic culture problem and Kalanick is ultimately responsible for it. His douchey behavior and win-at-all-costs mentality set the tone for the company and enabled people to be jerks and act horribly towards one another and the public

Yes, Kalanick has done douche as a tactic very well indeed, which is one big reason the company grew so aggressively. As with all startups, the company’s DNA is usually set by its founders, and his swaggering tone seeped into the culture, where it then was magnified and went viral.
It also curdled. And that’s why we find ourselves where we are now, where that unchecked pugnaciousness and a now-warped version of not-giving-any-fucks is no longer working.
How can I tell? Well, after a longish period of no really truly awful stories about some incident of bad behavior at Uber — which has plagued the company since its 2009 founding, as it has skipped from one avoidable controversy after another — this is precisely why the #deleteuber meme caught on so quickly just before this latest crisis.

Former Uber President Jeff Jones—who was widely seen as "the adult in the room"—left after six months due to the turmoil and controversy at Uber. His statement explaining why he's leaving stated:

It is now clear, however, that the beliefs and approach to leadership that have guided my career are inconsistent with what I saw and experienced at Uber, and I can no longer continue as president of the ride sharing business.

Davey Alba says Uber's problem is primarily one of public image and culture—something a chief operating officer cannot change. Uber's operations are fine—it owns 80 percent of the ride share market and despite the #DeleteUber campaign, it continues to see above-average download rates in app stores. To truly solve its problem, it needs a new CEO, not a new COO.  

In that light, Kalanick’s commitment to bring on a new COO leaves Uber in an awkward position that doesn’t address the fundamental problem. It’s too small a public act to be an effective statement, and it carves out a position for someone to address operational issues that don’t exist. “Uber needs a complete turnaround and not merely a tweak,” says Sullivan. Only one person can turn things around at Uber. And his best chance of doing that comes when he steps aside.

Kalanick's supporters say he's the one who made Uber into what it is and he's the only one who can change its direction. Taking on the taxi industry and car giants was a gargantuan task. Kalanick is a good and capable CEO, he just needs a better leadership team to help correct Uber's direction and hiring a chief operating officer is a good first step in that direction. 

“I think Uber is a really special company,” says the CEO of a finance-related tech platform. “Being able to grow it so fast and scale it so much was really hard, and people don’t appreciate that enough. On that level, I’d give Travis a lot of credit.” On the other hand, “Too much to me, it feels like the only leader at Uber is Travis. I don’t think that’s true, but that’s what it looks like to people. He does need a COO to help him run the day-to-day execution. I like how [Facebook CEO Mark] Zuckerberg has done it—he’s still in charge, it’s his vision, but it also feels like Sheryl Sandberg and the other great leaders around him are making the day-to-day happen. I’m not sure if that exists at Uber.”

If critics are right that Kalanick is completely responsible for Uber's culture, then that means Kalanick is the only person who can change the culture. No one else knows Uber better than him. 

And a sports-tech CEO puts it this way: “Him stepping down would be the worst outcome, because the only person that could really change it is him. If they put in someone else, does that person really have the power to change the culture? I think that’s unlikely.”
Post by Ed Berliner.
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