Growth at all costs: the Uber delusion

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Growth at all costs is not sustainable.

Earlier this week, a scathing report was released damaging the reputation of Uber even further. A long report, with 47 bullet points of change. Most of the changes suggested are very tame, given the extent of the problems that range from sexual harassment (one wonders how dark is a company that on a meeting to address their problems with sexual harassment, has a board member do a sexist joke on said meeting) to alleged lies in court.

A marked point of the decaying model of growth at all costs.

There is no true profitability, long-term speaking, when you don’t possess assets. Uber do not own cars, neither Lift. This applies to any other startup model based in being a technological broker or bridge between the consumers who desire convenience and the independent providers. This analysis goes deeper on this subject than I want to do here, but the point to take home is that if you grow a company only by scaling the user base, and without repassing more profits for your army of service providers, in due time you gonna have a devalued product, and an army of unhappy service providers.

somewhere along the line we are gonna see a mass exodus of drivers AND of users due to growing precarization of the service. And it’s already begun in the US.

Travis Kalanick, co-founder of Uber, and a paragon of the culture of the “awesome founder” was caught in video earlier in this year arguing with a Uber driver about falling fares and the usual drivel “I work harder than you so I’m entitled to have world bow to my knees”, please take a look so you understand the kind of worldview I’m referring to, how people like that truly behave when they are being themselves.

The main problem is not with Uber.

Uber is a thing of this moment, of 2017.

What drove me to write were those allegations, the user experience that keeps on decreasing, and the drivers more and more unsatisfied.

Uber represents a worldview. A predatory one.

One that aims to “grow” (growth that reports only favorable metrics, such as not considering the immense army of drivers as independent contractors instead of workers) at any bloody costs.

A worldview based on only caring about public responsibility as long as it damages the reputation of the company. If it can be denied, they don’t care about it the slightest.

Any company has a responsibility with the immediate community, and one such as Uber has with the world at large. When you have allegation on top of allegation of misconduct and your company does nothing of concrete to solve it, you are passing a very dark message to the world.

That if you are a good capitalist, you can get away with anything. This may actually be part true, but as one of those companies that speak loudly about being disruptive and bringer of change, they seem to be quite adept at repeating the errors of their forerunners.

You can’t take forever and expect the world to keep on smiling. If you plan to be an entrepreneur for the long haul (which you should) you better get out of the “exploit every dime” mentality and get into the “address a need in a responsible way” mentality.

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