In case you’ve been living under a rock, or just in general, don’t give a hoot(suite) about Silicon Valley news – Uber’s in a lot of trouble. Financially? No, not really. Other than a few open letters from its investors (who haven’t withdrawn their funding) and some apologetic nonsense from CEO, Travis Kalanick – Uber’s withstood the past few weeks of “SHOCKING” news.
- A Lawsuit regarding Self-Driving Car Tech
- More Accusations of Sexual Harassment
- A connection to Trump?
- Murders and Assaults
Today’s video reveal of a shouting match between an Uber driver and Kalanick is circulating around the internet, as is expected. The video doesn’t really reveal much other than both parties have some major communication issues, but this episode of the Silicon Valley soap opera won’t amount to much. Kalanick has pledged to seek some sort of coaching or leadership counseling. What this means, is as vague and up to interpretation as what she meant by “I think I had fun” but one thing’s for sure – the fallout isn’t going to take a toll on the business.
Uber’s doing well for itself, despite its problems over the past month, because they are adamant about leading the pack in transportation. While they service ride fare and food delivery (in a few select cities), the master plan is much more lucrative. Humans are mostly involved in the organization because currently there’s no alternative. But as technology improves and if (a big if, with an implied when) congress eventually moves on legislation for automated vehicles, Uber will have a major upper hand.
If you can replace the human element of ride share – the costs go down for the consumer. Paid fare will be a thing of the past and many companies are competing to secure that market first. Google, Tesla and Uber all lead in the technology as of now – but rumors have it Apple will become a major player (at least for the personal vehicle). When I say costs go down, I mean they will really go down. If you don’t have to pay drivers, your charge is for gas + profit. This will allow people to rent a ride for low prices, potentially under a dollar and may replace their personal vehicle for primary mode of transportation. As driver-less cars become the norm, traffic will go down and sanity up – because no one likes traffic.
Uber is so adamant about its future plans, it spent months and millions campaigning against Travis County in Austin when legislation was passed requiring a better background check. After a few murders and assaults, this isn’t uncalled for – but Uber smeared Austin’s congress like no tomorrow. Austin won and the citizens voted for the law, because you don’t mess with Texas.
What’ll Happen to Uber
Nothing. Leadership will continue to change, but investors see too much potential in the next 5, 10 and 15 years. The most likely scenario, should there be any more charges of discrimination or employee welfare will be that Kalanick leaves the company. If this occurs, he’ll most likely just create a new startup which will have connections to Uber.
His new startup will go well. People will forget about his past transgressions and when Uber sees a dip – they’ll bring Kalanick back. This is the quintessential Silicon Valley playbook and you see it all the time. Top executives constantly transition in and out of companies, but they never leave the game. Take Hubspot for instance.
The human element of Uber is merely a roadblock to overcome. There’s not a reason to have drivers once we have self-driving cars. The company knows it, investors know it and we should accept it.
The one thing to learn from this is, abuse claims can only go so far. People may or may not have been harassed, but with money behind a company – it’s not going to make a heap of difference. You’re replaceable and it’s more profitable to settle a case, than admit major wrong doing. You may be able to get Joe Blow fired from Arby’s for posting Hitler on Twitter, but good luck kicking a startup CEO out of Silicon Valley.
Also published on Medium.