I still think Kalanick is a jerk, but that kind of history would explain at least some of it.
One colleague was able to use sick time at half pay to care for a terminally ill relative. Some companies allow leave without pay.
How are you "subsidizing" that?
If someone is taking FMLA, the overwhelming likelihood is that they or someone they love is dying (or the opposite: they have a brand-new kid). You're worried about working a little bit harder.
Some perspective might be warranted.
Why does it have to be nuclear family members?
Not everyone has nuclear family members, or defines their family as the father/mother/brother/sister they grew up with.
In my mind, I see this as highly similar to hospitals of the past(and current) not letting members of same-sex couples visit their dying partner, because they aren't direct family or legally married.
The best course of action is to ask your employer!
1.) Uber defeated much of their competition by burning cash in monetizing schemes that are shady and unsustainable.
2.)Their other competitive advantage is branding, but that is not a moat-like advantage, if Uber was to disappear tomorrow, there are competitors who will quickly takeover & grow, this happened when Uber left Austin.
3.) They were complacent with sexual harassment & discrimination in the company. A business/startup should never allow harassment to be a thing, this is failure at leadership 101.
Uber and Lyft returned to Austin last week after the Texas state legislature passed a law that overturns Austin's regulations. The local competitors have lost huge numbers of customers. Fare is shutting down, Fasten had to lower their rates, and Ride Austin saw their trip volume decrease by 55% in the first week . I'd say it's pretty unlikely they will survive to the end of this year.
"Fasten had to lower their rates"
It is a price war, it is not truly about innovation in the space. Their software & services are not so innovative/defensive that it is hard to switch.
The argument for Uber's leadership is that they are special because they are building something that other Entrepreneurs/Leaders could not, that is not accurate if it is so easy to switch to a competitor. Not much hassle, loss of service when switching, same drivers / same cars.
Longer term it certainly is about innovation. The next leap for Uber and its competitors, is going to be removing most the drivers from the business. That's an extremely difficult and expensive path, Uber is among the few that can afford to pursue it early. Their moat may end up being the vast data they have to leverage to compete in autonomous. The winning Uber-type company in the future is going to be the one that best utilizes the most driving/use/traffic data. The company that does that, will have dramatically greater margins (and potentially greater customer satisfaction) than any upstart competitor can manage; that'll mostly be the end of new competition in the Uber space. After the segment settles down, there will still be a rare gimmick-based company (like Cuil), they'll all fail or be acquired however. All tech spaces that produce a giant company, end with very little competition, this will be no different. There are not going to be 47 Uber clones succeeding in the US market, three or four would be pushing it.
This train of thought does not take into account the game-changing possibility of self-driving cars.
And that's one of the many reasons why users will not jump ship. It'll cost billions of dollars in red ink to compete with Lyft and replicate the price & experience. It costs more to successfully compete with Uber. Which is why there aren't / haven't been tons of successful competitors to Uber in the US market.
No, you can't bootstrap a competitor to Lyft's $2 billion VC blackhole. No, it's not easy to do. No, users won't just bail on Uber to try your start-up. No, ridesharing isn't a commodity, precisely because the experiences are not all the same and never will be.
It'd be like claiming that retailing is a commodity (it's not), so therefore you can bootstrap a competitor to Walmart or Amazon. Except, you know, for the hyper scale that enables them to operate at slimmer margins than you can (your ability to compete with them at what they do declines at an accelerating rate as they increase scale), and the vast data they have on every angle of customer behavior (which you entirely lack, which negatively impacts your business in a thousand ways vs Walmart or Amazon). One of the things that protects a Walmart from being susceptible to commodity-style competition, is among other things their incredible data and national consistency (which small time operators and start-ups can never replicate; if I go to a Walmart in Texas it'll be similar to one in Virginia, I can be relatively confident in the results of my shopping trip there).
What company, were it to disappear tomorrow wouldn't have competitors to take over its place? And how, from a Bayesian point of view, does P(competitors take over | company is dead) affect the chances of survival of a company?
Back in reality, here's the switching cost: the start-up trying to take Uber's market share, has dramatically inferior data on ride timing/volume; said company has dramatically inferior ride availability in a given city (and at a national, city to city consistency level it's a joke comparison). Further down the line, the upstart is going to lag even further behind due to Uber's data wall, as we shift into autonomous.
Fantasy: it's friction free, anyone can start an Uber clone, there's no switching cost
Reality: it's extraordinarily difficult to compete with Uber, which is why so few have or can. There's a huge switching cost: Uber has all sorts of advantages over a start-up, that help Uber provide a superior service - locally, nationally, globally - over what a new company can manage. Oh yeah, and the biggest one: it's very hard to build what Uber built, it's ten times harder to do it while there's already an Uber, because you have to fight with them and their hyper scale while you're doing it (Uber didn't have to kill an Uber, now you do, good luck).
Wait there's more: and that's before we get to the fact that people are huge creatures of habit. Duck Duck Go produces excellent results, it'll never dent Google's search monopoly in a meaningful way; people do not want to switch unless they either have to, or the context goes beyond an extreme inconvenience. Both drivers and customers will tolerate a lot to not have to go through the immense (to them) hassle of switching. People grow to like their routines a lot, the things they use day to day, week to week; in fact, it's far beyond that, people are hyper resistant to change once they become settled in.
I tried DuckDuckGo and did not find the results to be excellent, so I switched back to Google. But I literally can't tell the difference between a Lyft, an Uber or a Fasten cab, it's just a sticker on the window as far as the customer is concerned. Price is the only significant discriminator.
No, availability / scale, is also a massive discriminator. That's at least as important as price in the equation of succeeding as an Uber competitor. Lyft has some scale, however that requirement keeps out other new competition in a extremely big way. It'll have cost Lyft billions of dollars just to try to stay in the game with Uber and to get to meaningful scale; no VC is throwing another $2+ billion at the Nth Uber clone (particularly when you still have to compete with an existing Lyft).
Few customers will keep track of a dozen Uber-clone services, and remember which ones have good city-by-city availability / representation. I live in SF, I'm going to Dallas, I want to have one Uber-like service that I can use in both locations without having to think about it, it just works in most or all major cities. That one issue will keep out most competition (as though the billion dollar cost of trying to dig into the market, trying to take share away from Uber & Lyft, isn't enough).
Lyft, which is still experiencing 100% growth year-over-year?
Didi, which dominates the Chinese market?
Ola, which matches Uber in India?
Grab, which dominates in Malaysia and is experiencing large growth in Southeast Asia?
Didi, Lyft, and Uber are all nearing the point where they can't dump subsidies on the market; they have to raise rates or they won't raise more money. They have to become profitable soon. When they become public companies, they won't be able to lower rates at the expense of profits without raising the ire of shareholders.
By the way, the entire European market is open to the ride sharing company who can be palatable to EU governments. Uber is failing at this; the opportunity is very much there.
It's obviously a different context globally, due to regulations, nationalism, et al. Didi for example will never own the US market, they're likely to end up like other Chinese tech giants, struggling to dominate internationally as they do domestically.
Ola is the next Flipkart.
Because they have a lot more money and will remain standing as an independent entity. Prices will either rise, or Uber will remove costs via autonomous driving (they're hoping to get there before they have to hike prices, because if they get there in time, it becomes a very difficult to overcome moat and they win).
Amazon nearly went bankrupt on their hyper thin margins early on. Had the dotcom bubble popped just a bit sooner, they'd have gone under. They were bleeding red ink trying to get to scale before the easy money ran out. Uber is trying to do a similar thing, fortunately for them the asset bubble party has continued on long enough for them to raise a vast warchest of cash.
I wonder if the Holder report ever sees the light of day, seeing as it's a privately held company still. If it goes public... maybe.
"A fish rots from the head down"
A 90-day leave of absence is not sufficient.
The trouble is that marketing as a discipline is full of quals pretending to be quants, and most of them are bad. Whenever I have dinner with friends who run venture-backed startups I ask how happy they are with their CMO, and there's a general acceptance that CMOs have a two year lifespan.
(I should add that I'm certain it's incredibly unforgiving being CMO in a startup where product/market and the unit economics are probably not proved. Simple things like calculating churn or LTV are made impossible. Tough gig.)
Who is that in this case? His "closest deputy" and SVP is out now too.
It's been a couldn't-come-at-a-worse-time few months. I think everyone would agree that had the accident happened any time between February and now, it would have been a couldn't-come-at-a-worse-time scenario.
Looking at some comments that treat this as a comeuppance of a sort is disturbing. We really shouldn't use anthropomorphization of a company to justify inhumanity in us.
 and I'm seeing those comments being flagged. Very good.
It is also a good test for the kind of commenting we want on HN—we want reflective comments, not reflexive ones—so yes, such comments should be flagged.
On a personal note, having worked for a period with Travis at RedSwoosh, I think he's getting the raw end of this deal. He's a really great entrepreneur and a nice enough guy. He pushes hard but and plays to win; as the CEO, he's getting an inordinate amount of fallout from these issues. I would say he's not the root cause of the issues but he is the root cause of Uber's success. Uber will not be the same without him.
But the fact remains, total assholes are capable of being ethical and moral, and the nicest person in the world can be a horrorshow.
Coming off as nice doesn't tell us anything about character, even though we are wired to feel otherwise.
He is the CEO, who has been caught red-handed being various flavors of deceptive, assholish, unconcerned with the externalities caused by his actions, not to mention several deeply unethical acts across years of time. That's before we get to the actions of his minions.
I have trouble understanding how you can credit him with success (which naturally means he "earned" his billions) while claiming he should be shielded from the fallout of his own and his reports' actions.
I can't agree with that statement. He's responsible for both. He doesn't get to take credit for the good and ignore the bad.
And his past actions have shown that's not far off; that he does behave in a manner consistent with Uber's bad actions.
Anyone with an iota of a moral compass would be able to understand whats wrong here. Travis wasnt able to.
He is a nice guy, he helps people, and he has strong passion in hating the failure. Is Uber too aggressive? Maybe yes - but you need to be aggressive to fight regulations, governments, taxi cartels and the like all over the world.
Who wrote the employee sex manual?
Validating her word and her integrity would go a long way toward showing Uber is serious about reform. Otherwise, it seems like they are simply taking another very roundabout path to silencing a woman.
Due to TK and his buddy's supervoting shares, he may be able to withstand his oust, but only while there's still money in the bank.
I can't see them being able to raise money on founder-friendly terms again after all this turmoil. Indeed this may be the only way to remove TK's grip on the company, or even altogether.
Uber has something working for them though: sunk cost. Even if normally they would not be able to raise money on founder friendly terms - or maybe not even at all - in this case they just might because the investors would not want to write off their huge investment to date. If the alternative is to let the ship go down they will fund it some more.
With a significant part of senior leadership replaced, what will happen to Uber's work place culture? As in, can culture in such a large organisation be changed top down? Are there any examples where an organisation has changed on a short time scale?
I am thinking of the Ballmer/Nadella transition but in my (outsider) perception it took years for Microsoft to be viewed differently as a company. There is also an aspect of bringing in an outsider versus letting an insider take over.
It does take a couple years to take hold though. I remember that when Larry took over Google in 2011, it was largely business as usual at first, but there was a noticeable shift by the time I left in 2014.
When Larry took over, my thoughts were initially "eh, this isn't going to make any difference to me," and by the end of the year were more "huh, I guess I didn't realize all the ways a CEO affects a company."
- "More wood behind fewer arrows". This was actually a Steve Jobs principle that Larry adopted: kill off all your insignificant products to focus on just a few key areas.
- More willingness to take on moonshots; less tolerance for projects that might be good for a small segment of the userbase, but don't appreciably move the needle.
- Seemingly less collegial atmosphere. Eric tolerated a lot of "You'll do your thing, I'll do mine, and it's okay if Google has half a dozen products that all do slight variations of each other." Larry insisted on more product discipline, but that often meant more of a scarcity mentality among execs, which led to more turf wars and infighting.
- More top-down culture. Eric had few opinions on what Google should be doing, he just wanted to make sure we were doing it well. Larry had very definite opinions on what Google should be doing, and if you didn't share them, go start your own company.
- More chaotic management style. I got the sense that Larry didn't actually know what was going on with the company, on an individual-contributor level, and so when he made decisions, they often made no sense to the rest of the company. Eric didn't know what was going on with the company either, but he was okay with that, as long as the money kept coming in and we didn't do anything illegal, so he made fewer decisions that weren't a direct reaction to an issue that was brought to him.
From Larry -> Sundar. Keep in mind that I left before Sundar became CEO, so this is all second-hand:
- Hierarchy and top-down culture has persisted.
- Collegiality seems to have returned. Just my perception, but Google seems a nicer place to work now than when G+ was seemingly taking over the company in 2012.
- Sundar is generally more informed and, well, sane, as perceived by the employees.
- Sundar is a caretaker: the core areas of Google are explicitly designed not to require massive company-changing innovation, instead relying on incremental improvement to existing products that can be driven by middle-management, and all the innovation is shunted off to the rest of Alphabet where Larry & Sergey have a more direct role in shepherding it.
I think all 3 CEOs were strong in their own way, but the CEO transition made me appreciate how oftentimes a leader's biggest strengths are often also their biggest weaknesses. Larry is insane, for instance; IMHO he's insane in a good way, because we outright wouldn't have Google otherwise, but that same oddness of perception made him a maddening CEO to work under. Similarly, Eric was a great peacemaker and good at quickly making decisions that pleased as many people as possible, but that same ability to compromise made him a poor innovator and unlikely to have the moral courage to bet the company on crazy ideas.
It also convinced me that Paul Graham's thesis, that big companies are constitutionally incapable of innovating, was correct. The reason is precisely that duality above; in order to innovate, you need someone whose personality is insane, but who then has to directly butt up against reality, and experience that resistance first-hand. It doesn't work for someone insane to direct lots of not-insane employees who get paid to build the product, because the type of creative insights that come from facing contradiction directly can't survive outside of a single mind. The innovator has to do the work directly.
Sun even produced a TV commercial in which an arrow that presumably had all of Sun's wood behind it whooshed through the air and hit the bull's eye of a target. (Nobody at Sun ever knew what the target was, but by golly they all knew which arrow to put their wood behind.)
Photo of Scott McNealy in his office at Sun with a huge Cupid's Span style wooden arrow through his window, and a small Steve Martin style wooden arrow through his head:
Sun's Workstations Still Shine, But Rivals Cloud The Outlook
Daily Gazette - Nov 10, 1991
Associated Press (Google News Archive)
Sun touts an "all the wood behind one arrow" slogan, meant to describe
a company focused on one goal - workstations. As an April Fool's joke
in 1990, Sun employees built a 60-foot-long arrow in McNealy's office
with the point going out the window.
So this will probably happen:
Clear the decks
Put someone boring in charge
Lie low for a while + submarine mode
Announce some new interesting thing
I say the taint is still there, drive the stake in and add holy water.
Where "is likely to take a leave of absence", in this context, is shorthand for "has grudgingly agreed to resign as soon as we can find a replacement -- which, believe us, we intend to do as soon as humanly possible. But we'll in the interim call it 'taking leave' to soften the overall business impact -- and of course to at least attempt to staunch the exodus of the best and brightest of our employees, no doubt already in progress."
If it can be done as easily as so many in this thread are claiming, then why aren't you a billionaire? (oh I know, you just don't want to be)
It's a repetition of the same things I read on HN when it became obvious that Facebook was going to be a social monopoly. Fantasy: it's easy to clone Facebook, it's really not even that complex, someone should build an open competitor that the public will reject in every way and never want to use. The same was frequently said about Twitter as well, countless clones were attempted, zero succeeded. And it's dramatically harder to successfully replicate & compete with Uber than Twitter.
There are in fact numerous switching costs and extreme barriers to entry, that prevent competitors from just rising up and taking Uber's position as king. Otherwise there would be a dozen Ubers in the US, all vying to be multi-billion dollar companies, making their founders billionaires, and yielding huge returns for VCs.
How about any customers or contracted employees?
But- uber hired the advice, a point I need to remember
He either needs to legitimately fix the problems or stand aside and let a better leader do it.
Edit: For the record, I'd much prefer to see him do the former than the latter.
LOTS of people disagree with us. So it's a stretch to say the assertion is self-evident.
But unless you know something we don't, you are nowhere close to calling Kalanick "sociopathic". Hence the question.
We should all try to be more careful about how we talk about people.
Uber has a killer product that solves many problems, yet they seem bent on doing things in ways I find unethical. The programs to hide from government officials; sending recruiters on Lyft trips to try to steal them; wasting Lyft drivers' time/money by sending false requests (accused on both sides, but nonetheless); pretty damning evidence of corporate espionage in regards to the Waymo lawsuit (still to be decided but it's not going well for them); yelling at the Uber driver in that youtube video.
To be clear, the general meaning I'm using of sociopathy is the one of impaired empathy for others and lack of remorse, overinflated ego, etc.
If this is what the man at the top is deciding is the right way to do business, that sets the tone for the company.
We detached this comment from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14539532 and marked it off-topic.
flammability of topic
substantiveness of post
In other words, you reap what you sow.
As a community member, you owe it to the community not to do that, so please don't do it again.
We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14539226 and marked it off-topic.
It is pretty paranoid to think that he faked his mother's death and his father's injuries to take a leave of absence to dodge Uber drama.
That's what the OP was talking about.
In reality I hope his father gets better but Travis loses fucking everything. Nice to see the SV double-standard where I get downvoted and he gets billions of dollars.
1. The Susan Fowler workplace sexual harassment claims were horrific and sounded true. So it does sound like there are some complete dicks working there. If the CEO was party to this stuff then I'm wrong, but I assume he wasn't.
2. The hatred for the CEO is surely exaggerated. The video of him in the cab with a customer was fine, it was a good robust conversation -- towards the end both parties became annoyed. Perfectly normal behavior. He sounds nice enough to me from the words of his that I've read. Obviously you don't take CEOs that seriously; they're entire job is to place inane positive spin on their company every day that they wake up.
3. The Guardian and NYT so obviously have the knives out for the company that it's become laughable reading their coverage.
4. His mum just died in a tragic accident and people are not even mentioning that in stories about him taking time off.
5. It's become common for people to say stuff like "they're not contributing anything novel", and otherwise completely underestimate the wonderful transformation that they have effected in personal travel and efficient usage of cars.
6. Young American liberals have become so annoying about political correctness causes such as workplace sexual politics that I have really come to hate that aspect of working in America and I am inclined to support Uber just to annoy them (being honest here, I didn't claim my post would be appreciated).
7. The sight of Bernie Sanders-supporting liberals earnestly trying to improve the world by choosing one silicon valley start-up over another would be funny, if the failures of the left weren't so depressing at this time when we need a grown-up left more than ever.
I've frequently observed people taking untenable positions that they know are wrong, they don't actually believe in, and they can't justify or defend, just to be a dick, in order to punish somebody who hurt their feelings but was right. But you're the first person I've ever seen actually come out and admit that is what they do.
Kudos on your honesty, if for nothing else. There are a whole lot of people who behave like you but don't admit it. It's not an original, ethical, constructive or intelligent behavior, but you're just the first person I've seen openly admit that's how they operate.
You'll tolerate sexual harassment, but only because somebody who was against it annoyed you, and you wanted to annoy them back. Was it more annoying for you to experience someone who is annoyingly intolerant of sexual harassment, than it is annoying to actually be sexually harassed?
The Paradox of Annoyance sound like the evil corollary to the Paradox of Tolerance.