Uber, I’m Out.

I didn’t sleep well last night. I was processing the posts written by Susan Fowler and Amy Vertino about the disgraceful and demeaning behaviour they were subjected to at Uber.

And then I starting recalling recent corroborating signals.

I heard DHH’s voice in his post asking us to delete the Uber app.

I read Mitch & Freada Kapor’s message, as investors in Uber and Travis’s vision, who used Medium as a last resort to communicating their frustration about Uber’s culture.

I read attempts to rationalise how Uber’s HR team is ‘hiring-centric’. At the core of this explanation (and this team’s apparent dysfunction) is the absence of a well rounded talent function who prides itself on being an effective advocate of its people AND an enabler of a values-based meritocracy.

I agreed with Fred Wilson’s views on professionalising HR early in a companies life.

I also started to wonder if Uber’s culture is a symptom of blitzscaling. If this is a new term it’s the situation where significant capital (read: billions and billions of dollars) is invested to internationally scale a business and create a new paradigm shift in an industry. It’s an aggressive ‘winner-takes-most’ strategy. And it applies tactics like super-rapid hiring of people who can help facilitate the desired outcome in the shortest timeframe possible (even before a sustainable business model is in hand). Uber is THE case in point of blitzscaling in today’s transportation market.

And then this morning Kara Swisher broke the news that Uber’s SVP of Engineering has departed as a result of failing to disclose being subject of a ‘credible’ internal investigation into sexual misconduct at his former employer, Google.

As I poured over these signals I kept trying to imagine the other side of this story.

What would Uber CEO Travis Kalanick say one-on-one, without his PR team around him, if he and I were old buddies sitting at a bar talking through Susan and Amy’s experience and how to fix it?

I hope he’d say “it shouldn’t be this way” and have a pull-out-all-the-stops strategy that he can quickly bring to life, and I hope this isn’t all talk…

What do we sacrifice for convenience and where is the line?

I could not be a stronger advocate for building products that create habits and change people’s lives. And I cannot tell you how many rides I’ve taken in an Uber but there have been many in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Hong Kong, New York, San Francisco, Kuala Lumpur and London.

I’ve built a habit using Uber. And at the heart of that habit is convenience. I also love the vision of reorganising transport, unlocking value for people to earn additional income and disrupting incumbents whose business model generates disproportionately high returns for owners at the expense of the safety and well-being of its workers and passengers.

A company ‘crosses the line’ when the convenience it provides no longer aligns with your values.

I’m husband to a beautiful and capable woman and a father to two littler women who share the same qualities. I am an Ambassador at Rare Birds where we are dogged champions for women entrepreneurship. And as a leader I am also a strong believer in the potent advantages that women and girls bring to the world, in every profession, in every community and in every family.

And it’s not difficult to determine if a convenience no longer aligns with your values. In this case all I had to do was try empathising with Susan and Amy and then imagine if these two women were my daughters.

I don’t subscribe to notion of winning at any cost, it incentivises ignorance and drives inhuman behaviour.

And there is little point in grandstanding about what I would do as a father, if these were my daughters, to those responsible.

Instead, I just deleted my Uber account.

I’ll take the convenience hit. After all there are cars, buses, trains, bikes and legs to facilitate travel.

You can do the same by following DHH’s advice.

I’ll signup again the moment Travis convinces me that he has sorted out his culture.

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I write about what I see building companies. Currently growing dropbio.com

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