The Uber episode, capitalism and arrogance of tech founders

By now, you must have watched how Uber CEO Travis argued with a ‘partner’ driver, showing off his arrogance and short temper. After being questioned, he even rated the driver one star.

Since he is caught, Travis has apologized and will now look for ‘leadership help’.

It’s clear this video is a reflection of me—and the criticism we’ve received is a stark reminder that I must fundamentally change as a leader and grow up. This is the first time I’ve been willing to admit that I need leadership help and I intend to get it.

The Truth

Travis isn’t alone. Most of the even mildly successful tech founders have turned arrogant. And at the core lies the basic structure of capitalism and an belief (or assumption) that everyone just works for money.

And since we (=  tech disruptors) sit on top of the food chain, we rule the world.

And it’s okay to fire people / let them go without any respect notice because well..you ran out of money. There isn’t anything wrong with capitalistic thoughts (heck! capitalism moves the world forward), but lack of respect for everything else (including people) is destroying the trust in the new age companies.

And a clear example is strike by Uber and Ola drivers. There are clearly two schools of thought here (let’s just call them ‘soch’, the hindi word).

#Soch 1

Bloody – they (= vendors) made the most when the economy was good and we (= Uber/Ola) were giving them incentives. Some of them were even making 1-1.5 Lakhs per month easily.

Now that the market is bad – why the hell are they crying? They were greedy (as us) – let them figure out their EMIs. Why should I care?

#Soch 2

My vendor partners are in trouble. The collective greed has sucked all of us and we (= Uber/Ola) take responsibility of this mess. We will fix them, before this trouble hits their (and our) families, reputation and importantly, trust on the system.


Which soch do you think is happening in the tech & startup ecosystem (globally)?

The arrogance that *we* rule the world (and these vendors are dependent on us) is going to erode the trust *old businesses* have on new ones.

The real truth is that the food chain is much deeper than disruptions arrogance will bring. And it will find its own equilibrium – with or without (tech) disruptions.

And while we wait for AI to become our new lord, the radio sings.

Money.

Share it fairly but don’t take a slice of my pie

Money, so they say

Is the root of all evil today

But if you ask for a rise it’s no surprise that they’re giving none away