In its 8-year existence, Uber has never been too far from the headlines. What began as a ride-hailing service in 2009 quickly became a global transportation colossus. The very definition of disruption, Uber re-shaped an industry. And it has made plenty of enemies along the way.
CEO Travis Kalanick resigned in June. In the last few months of his leadership, Uber had come under increasing pressure. There were allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination at management level, legal issues with the public sector, a tsunami of lawsuits from disgruntled drivers, and a threat from Apple to disable the Uber app. Uber’s corporate culture had become, according to many of its employees, nothing short of toxic.
It’s common knowledge that new recruits to Uber are asked to subscribe to 14 corporate values, among which have featured “fierceness” and “toe-stepping.” The culture that Kalanick helped build – or allowed to flourish – became a meritocracy where “principled confrontation” – another core company value – justified bad behaviour.
Kalanick’s fall from grace has given the world’s press and media the latest headline in a corporate saga that has plenty to teach us about culture, values, and leadership. And, like most things, it’s not entirely black and white. Uber is still a multi-million dollar business. Kalanick remains on the board. The saga is far from over, and many believe that both he and the company he founded can bounce back.
So what did Kalanick do well?
What could he have done differently?
And what lessons are there for any aspiring business leader to take away?
Read the full version of this article on the website of Rotterdam School of Management.