Will Travis Kalanick lead Uber to ruin?

Should Uber kill the father so as not to sink? Freudian question to which some observers have already answered without hesitation.

Help! Uber boss Travis Kalanick needs help. In a post blog, the charismatic CEO of the giant of the VTC (transport cars with driver) is very small after the “bad buzz” triggered by the video unveiled by Bloomberg has toured social networks and in which we can see the quadra speak with contempt to the driver who drives him.

Some people do not like to take responsibility for their own shit. They blame everything in their life or someone else, “says the entrepreneur to the driver, who accuses him of being in debt because of him:

“People do not trust you anymore” … “Because of you, I lost $ 97,000 and I’m broke”

Excuses seemed to prevail after this misstep. In his message posted on the platform’s blog, the entrepreneur for the first time admitted that he needed to “grow up”, while apologizing for his disrespectful behavior towards the driver in question, but also of all the others, passengers and also the Uber team.

“I have to change fundamentally as a leader and grow up, this is the first time I am willing to admit that I need help at the managerial level and I intend to get it.”

Many blunders
It must be said that the clouds continue to obscure the sky above the platform that is disputed with Didi the global market for transporting people on demand. A goal that pushes him to ignore, when it suits him, the local regulations in force. Whether it is the experimentation of its autonomous cars in California or its UberPop service (transport between individuals) now suspended in France for example. So that it has not only attracted the wrath of the historical actors in place, taxis, where the platform weaves its gigantic canvas. But above all, it has earned him – and still is worth it – many lawsuits. These expenses would partly explain the $ 3 billion loss of the multinational in 2016.

Last false date in addition to the video, the confession of Uber, Friday, to have used a secret software called “Greyball” operating with user data, confirming information from the New York Times. Objective: to avoid the police. What discredit the company about the reliability of drivers and the safety of passengers. Especially when recent articles have shown that a person could, even with false documents, ride through the platform, whose control and verification possibilities seem limited.

Added to this are the charges of sexual harassment of an employee, which forced the company to announce the opening of an investigation led by the former Minister of Justice Barack Obama – please. We do not joke with such accusations. This did not stop one of its most famous investors Mitch and Freada Kapor, to publicly question the independence of such an investigation and point to the deplorable culture of the company. Just a few days before another employee, Amit Singhal was not thanked for one month after joining the company for concealing the sexual harassment complaint against her previous employer, Google.

Speaking of Google, Uber’s historic shareholder filed a complaint, through its subsidiary Waymo (former Google Car) dedicated to cars without drivers, against the giant of the VTC, for theft of industrial secrecy and patent infringement. Short. Uber seems to have been collecting odd numbers for several months, and to take a closer look, perhaps even since the threats of the vice-president of the startup against a journalist, revealed by an American media in November 2014.

Angry drivers
Knowing that during this time, critics are also well on both sides of the Atlantic from the drivers, dissatisfied with the low prices imposed by the mobile application. Financially displaced, some claim the requalification of their status as an employee. And some got – in part – successful. But the requalification of drivers in employees would probably lead to Uber’s loss, its model and profitability being based on the independence of its “partners” drivers. But it seems unlikely that the story ends so.

One thing is sure, however. All this bad press is not without consequence, nor without risk for the multinational whose capitalistic valuation flirts with a vertiginous amount of nearly 70 billion euros, which is not really based on anything concrete because Uber is not for the time not listed on the stock market. And its founder, Travis Kalanick, who wants to roll back the deadline as late as possible, knows it. It does not matter for the bubble to burst. He who managed to raise some $ 15 billion in capital and debt should not take the risk of discouraging investors.

To correct the shot
That is why it was necessary to react after the recent video, which is perhaps, in the eyes of some, the last straw that broke the camel’s back. What to do then? How to rectify the shot? Travis Kalanick can it only? Will his excuses be enough? Because certainly Uber would not exist without Travis Kalanick. However today many alternatives exist. Starting with the competing application Lyft, in the United States, which also took advantage of Uber bad luck in late January. If service users are satisfied, why would they back up? So Uber just has to stand and look after his image. Because the hashtag #DeleteUber did not take long to cross the Atlantic, making the cabbage greasy passage of the young French driver Chauffeur-Privé, which does not hesitate to make his butter on the back of Uber. And this seems to bear fruit, according to the growing number of users – often tired of the deterioration of the rival service of the American elsewhere – of the last weeks, while his young boss Yann Hascoet is preparing to complete a round of 50 million euros. In the United States alone, 200,000 people have deleted their accounts in one weekend.

So maybe it’s time, for the one who from the beginning clearly displayed his will and his acerb personality by launching “our opponent is an asshole called taxi”, to pass the hand. In any case, that is what some observers believe, that this would be the only possible way out of the crisis in the company run by the forty-year-old. Unless his excuses lead to concrete actions, and that does not mark a real turning point, the beginning of a new chapter for the company. The goal is to regain credibility. What society needs to thrive. And to avoid falling.

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