BIG news with Uber losing its London license, but for a company which has had litigation built into its business model since the beginning, this is a fight they’re well prepared for, and will probably win. (On their first official day of trading they received cease-and-desist letters from the City of San Francisco and the state of California).
I’ll never forget hearing the oft repeated quote during my research for a book I was writing called Ubernomics. The book didn’t get published for a string of legal reasons, but that’s a whole different story.
“Uber is not run like a democracy where you win 49/51. We want to win 98/2 and destroy the competition”.
It’s one of the reasons they hired David Plouffe (the Frank Underwood of real-life politics) to be their head of strategy.
The phrase “morally deep but ethically grey” was also banded around a lot during my interviews with Uber employees. Their founding vision of making cities more efficient to give people back more time in their day is credible, but they way that they have gone about fulfilling that vision has always been “ethically grey“. It was a disruptive management philosophy that made Uber the fastest growing tech company in the world, (and “the world’s most heavily funded startup”) but ethics trump growth, as Travis Kalanick discovered earlier this year.
I’m sure Uber’s new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is very concerned, but when your average day involves fighting 70 law suits in different cities simultaneously, this is just another day at the office for Uber.
Travis Kalanick features in my book Ten Words, not for his cavalier management philosophy or shortcomings as a leader, but for the vision that he embraced long before things started to go bad.