We all know Uber, the ride-hailing app, that took the world by storm when it first became popular around 2008. If you’ve had even just one ear on the news lately you know that not all has been going well for the company. The company has gotten into some hot water regarding sexual harassment and discrimination allegations which has resulted in the firing of some 20 employees, the resignation of the CEO, as well as declining sales.,, But what’s really happening at this once brilliant startup? It’s time for a Nav.it news breakdown.

So How Did All This Start?

Ok, I think it’s important to restate that all of this current drama started within the context of the Uber CEO receiving backlash for accepting an advisory position for President Trump. So putting aside the current news, people were already feeling politically divisive about the startup company and this divisiveness  – caused profit loss.

Fast forward and rewind a bit to February 2017, when, Susan J. Flowler, an Uber employee posted sexual harassment allegations involving the startup on her blog. The blog post went viral and Twitter responded with a “#deleteuber” hashtag. Her blog post details her allegations and the response from Uber HR. Basically, someone in upper management sexually harassed her over chat and when she reported the harassment, HR said they couldn’t do much about the problem since he was a “high performer”.  Ms. Flowler writes about how the continuous sexism and toxic work culture she experienced at Uber convinced her to leave the company.

In response to the public uproar after Flowler’s post went viral, Travis Kalanick, the CEO of the company, announced that he would be ordering a full investigation into Flowler’s incident. Shortly after this, footage of Kalanick arguing with an Uber driver about salary surfaced. Kalanick apologized for this, claiming that he needed to become “a better leader”.

Around this same time, many senior employees at Uber began to leave the company and Alphabet, accused Uber of stealing one of their designs. This drama, in addition to the context of the Trump advisory position noise, PLUS a decline in sales, convinced Kalanick to resign.

What does this mean?

Uber has always been a controversial company. There was always a continuous questioning of safety and regulation measures.The fallout at Uber may be cause for stricter regulations. We might also be seeing a more cautious approach from investors who are quick to put money into startups that may not be ready.  

The Nav.it take away for entrepreneurs and startups:

There are a lot of things at play when starting a business; we are not here to tell you how to do it all. However, our takeaway from Uber’s problems is this: Your organizational culture is key to define early.  Setting up systems from the beginning that encourage employee’s career advancement, leadership strategies, and employee safety go a looooooooong way to help successful companies bridge the 3 – 10 jump and create a flourishing business through flourishing employees.


Image credit: Mirjana Jesic




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