The corporate culture that made Uber a global success is also its greatest liability. Recent bad press—including executive departures, allegations of discrimination and sexual harassment, and a viral #DeleteUber campaign—speak to issues much bigger than a brand or a PR problem.
Culture problems are foundational, meaning there are no quick fixes. Brand makeovers and the like are no more a match for a culture crisis than trying to fix a crumbling house with fresh paint. Uber burst onto the scene in 2009 as a "disruptor" and its culture was designed and cultivated to fit that mentality.
To understand how the company got to this point we need to look back to its beginnings, even pre-launch. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and his co-founder Garrett Camp knew that the key to their success would be catching the complacent taxi and executive car service operators asleep at their collective wheels.
The launch was a shock-and-awe campaign that at least partially accounted for the daunting legal and regulatory challenges that stood as barriers to market entry. It knew it would anger an entrenched taxi industry. It also knew it was pushing the envelope with municipal and state regulators, in many places operating in gray areas or, […]