Companies today are going by the ‘bleed now, make money later’ business model like Amazon.com did in the 00’s. What’s shocking is that some of these companies have bled more money in a year than Amazon.com ever did in its history. Take a look at Uber, while it’s not struggling to attract VC funding, it certainly is at a point where it may not be able to make a profit unless it stops paying the drivers. Just in past one month, the upper management at Uber that left are VP of product and growth, SVP of engineering, AI Labs director, self-driving director, VP of maps, and the president himself. Some of us may have experienced it during the 2000-2001 crash.
Then again, just because some executives have bailed doesn’t mean things are going south. It could also mean that all the bad guys have left, and now it may be time for you to move up. However, if it is leaders you admire who are leaving, it’s a clear signal that the best people are indeed, jumping ship. One would immediately assume that something is wrong with the company.
Is this a sign of trouble? Is my job at risk? Are the benefits being capped?
Uber has long held a reputation as an aggressive and unapologetic startup. The trailblazing startup is embroiled in many controversies and has attracted the ire and anger of many because of its approach to some of the problems. In February, Jeff Jones resigned from Uber just eight months after joining the company. He was charged with improving Uber’s brand and reputation and handled a broader set of responsibilities including operations, marketing and customer support. Later, Jones confirmed his departure in a statement to Recode saying, ““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.”
In recent months, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has faced intense scrutiny for his role in fostering a combative internal culture. Many have blamed him for not properly dealing with the company’s human resources issues. Things are so bad that techies at Uber had taken to posting on Blind, an app where one can anonymously share grievances.
Back in February, Kalanick held a 90-minute meeting, during which he and several other executives were bombarded with questions and pleas from employees who were shocked, or strongly identified with the harassment and other human resources issues. According to the New York Times, Kalanick apologized to the employees for the toxic culture at the company. “What I can promise you is that I will get better every day,” he said. “I can tell you that I am authentically and fully dedicated to getting to the bottom of this.”
In March 2017, someone who goes by the title of “HRinternal” posted that over 118 employees have resigned following a kafka-esque meeting. The post has since been removed, and it’s uncertain whether it was someone trolling. So far, the app has more than 1,000 Uber employees out of 11,000 Uber employees.
Meanwhile, recruiters and rival companies have reported an increase in job applications from Uber employees in recent weeks. Many of these applicants are saying that they have lost faith in the company’s leadership.
The situation at Uber has deteriorated to the point that a favored board member, Ariana Huffington called the management “brilliant jerks.” Uber certainly has deep pockets, but there’s a lot of blood in the water. There isn’t much it can do if the 118 employees who resigned, decide to file a class-action lawsuit. Of course, with a company like Uber where an arbitration clause is enforced, a class-action lawsuit is highly unlikely.
Let’s hope Uber finally manages to fundamentally change its internal culture for good.