In the News

More disruption at Uber

Penny Brooks

20th March 2017

Uber might be seen as the 21st century poster-child of Schumpeter's idea of creative destruction, which is defined as the process of how capitalism leads to a constantly changing structure of the economy. But in 2017, it has been subject to quite a bit of disruption, if not destruction, itself, as it struggles to cope with coordination, communication and control of an organisation which might have outgrown the ability of its founder to manage it.

Today has seen the immediate resignation of its president, Jeff Jones. Jones was appointed by founder Travis Kalanick only six months ago, and is a marketing expert who was hired specifically to help bolster Uber's reputation. However in the period since then, Uber has suffered a string of problems involving accusations of sexual harassment at work, resignation of a senior engineer after it was discovered that he had been accused of sexual harassment at his previous employer, and Bloomberg's video that showed Kalanick berating an Uber driverwho had complained about cuts to rates paid to drivers, resulting in Kalanick making a public apology and admitting that he needed 'management help'.

Arguably, none of those were Jones's fault, but it must have been a baptism of fire for the man in charge of customer support and marketing. There are reports that Kalanick's decision to hire a Chief Operating Officer, who would have been senior to Jones, was behind his decision to quit so suddenly. However, his resignation statement, quoted below from the website of Recode, suggests otherwise, and that it is more to do with corporate culture:

"I joined Uber because of its Mission, and the challenge to build global capabilities that would help the company mature and thrive long-term.

It is now clear, however, that the beliefs and approach to leadership that have guided my career are inconsistent with what I saw and experienced at Uber, and I can no longer continue as president of the ride sharing business.

There are thousands of amazing people at the company, and I truly wish everyone well."

Penny Brooks

Formerly Head of Business and Economics and now Economics teacher, Business and Economics blogger and presenter for Tutor2u, and private tutor

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