Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick believes that in light of scandal, ongoing lawsuit, and allegations of discrimination, he’s really not a bad guy.
Travis Kalanick is a businessman and entrepreneur of staggering scope.
He’s CEO of UBER, the ride sharing venture that has disrupted the mobility industry, he knows a thing or two about success.
While he’s not Uber’s founder, Kalanick’s dedication and unyielding focus built the startup into the international car service that it is today.
However, his scrappy leadership has also threatened to pull the company’s breaks in the face of high-profile lawsuits and complaints.
While Kalanick was caught verbally abusing an Uber driver, the company has also faced a laundry list of transgressions.
Research into the company’s culture reveals shocking behaviour from high ranking managers. They seem to perpetuate an ethos of Machiavellian principles that encourage staff to rise to the top at any cost.
Furthermore, interviews, emails, and recordings indicate a laissez faire work environment with a threatening undercurrent.
Employees cite a manager who sexually groped a female member of staff at a company retreat. A director screamed homophobic language during a meeting with an underling.
A shocking blog confession from a Susan Fowler reveals the extent of the dog-eat-dog workplace. She detailed the extensive degree of sexual harassment and discrimination that upper management consistently ignored.
Did childhood bullying make Travis Kalanick the bad boy of startups?
Overseeing such an unsuppressed professional space throws Kalanick’s reputation into question.
He has launched investigations into employee allegations, and even involved board member Arianna Huffington. However, critics still view Kalanick as the cause of Uber’s toxic culture.
However, the CEO feels as if consumers and investors have misjudged him.
While he portrays a combative persona to the general public, he characterises his behaviour as “little moments of arrogance where I say something provocative.”
He also says his bad boy attitude as stems from childhood bullying:
“I was geeky enough to get bullied. Not like physically beat up really, but just made fun of, ostracized […] That could be where the justice thing comes from.”
Psychoanalysing aside, Kalanick needs to change how the public perceives him, and Uber.
In light of Uber’s scandalous past, and current involvement in a legal battle with Google, competitors are thriving.
Ride-sharing rival Lyft reported a 60% increase of customer engagement after an Uber boycott in January.
Furthermore, it recently accumulated $600mn (£464mn) in funding, and focuses its branding on appearing far more friendly.
If Kalanick doesn’t change Uber’s negative image, then a loss of funding and customer interest could make it uber broke.
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