Travis Kalanick

Am I the only person who believes he shouldn’t have been fired?

Now Travis is a prick. Unfriendly and self-serving. Granted, my interactions with him have been limited to two panels, but he exuded a self-righteousness and pomposity that were undeniable. But he built Uber out of whole cloth.

Read Brad Stone’s “The Upstarts.” Uber wasn’t the first in the game, but it won. It wasn’t even the first into everyday drivers, known to many as UberX, it was black car only when competitors leapfrogged in front of it. And you’re gonna throw this guy out the door?

That’s what I hate about America, those on the sidelines who think they know better. Like the board of Uber. Arianna Huffington? Are you kidding me, one of the worst figureheads of all time! The people who built the “Huffington Post” into a triumphant juggernaut sold it to AOL and moved on, most notably to Buzzfeed. What is the newly-labeled “HuffPo” now? Just another site with little traction and no point of view, it’s the MySpace of news, surfing the zeitgeist one day, behind the wave the next. It was the left wing news site of record and then Arianna expanded into verticals with no traction, kinda like Perez Hilton, and the site was overrun with linkbait and no one goes there anymore. It’s so 2007. And my point is Arianna is on Uber’s board and we have to read again and again how this self-appointed sleep guru is changing the culture of the company. Put a woman on the board, put many, but how about someone with a track record of winning, not a tireless self-promoter, but someone with accomplishments. And boards themselves are notoriously out of touch and overrated. Steve Jobs came back to Apple and cleared house. Apple was almost run into the ground after his firing, by a series of nobodies approved by the board. Never underestimate the power of the individual. Never ever. Van Halen and Genesis might have recovered from the loss of their lead singer, but almost no other band has. From the Doors to Blind Melon. But society says Uber’s culture is corrupt and Travis must go.


This is the same social outcry that had Warner Music jettisoning Interscope. Which ended up building the Universal Music Group into a monolith. Hell, let’s go back to that group’s genesis. MCA Records was moribund, they brought in Irving Azoff to save it. And he did! Most famously with black music. But rock too. And after almost a decade Irving moved on and Al Teller replaced him and today MCA Records doesn’t even exist! You bet on people, they’re much more powerful than institutions, especially in tech, where if you’re not thinking about tomorrow, you might as well pack it in today. Hell, I was on CNBC railing that BlackBerry was toast and every single analyst and the host disagreed with me. This was AFTER the numbers started tanking. If you’re being influenced by the press, you’ve already lost your direction.

You kill all competitors. Hell, Google was just sanctioned for this by the EU, but the nincompoops at Uber open the door for Lyft. You know why I don’t use Lyft? Because first and foremost I’m about service. I want a car as soon as possible, especially in the Hollywood Hills. If you think I’m gonna wait an extra half hour for a more politically correct ride, you’re dreaming, or you never use a ride-hailing app. But that’s America also, everybody’s got an opinion, even if they never saw the movie, never used the product, they’re an expert, screaming loudly.

Was there rampant sexual discrimination? Did HR mishandle complaints?


Give Travis some time off. Establish guidelines. But you don’t can your leader in the middle of a war, especially during the initial skirmish.

We’re only at the beginning folks. Soon there won’t be any citizen drivers at all, autonomous cars will arrive on demand. Hell, the WSJ says it’ll be in less than half a decade. Kalanick knows this, but the punters going on about Uber’s culture are the same idiots who want to buy CDs and physical books, not believing the future will ever come. Did you see that UK youngsters prefer Spotify to YouTube? I’ve been saying this for over a year, you only have to look at play counts to see this. But no, IFPI and the RIAA and the rest of the Luddites keep complaining about the value gap, and they’re STILL bitching about piracy. We’re not living in 2002 anymore!

And one of the other great advantages of Uber is its no-tipping policy. I want to know what the cost of a ride is. Danny Meyer gets rid of tipping at his restaurants and the blowhards complain that Uber drivers can’t get extra money. Hell, how much do I tip, how does it affect my rating? Did anybody ever contemplate the consequences of adding tips? As for drivers… Come on, ever hear of surge pricing? If remuneration is too bad, drivers won’t, drive that is. Kalanick knows all this, but the lunatics who’ve taken over Uber don’t.

Ignore the bad press. How many times have we heard Amazon is the enemy, now people LOVE Amazon! And who doesn’t love Prime, with its two day delivery.

America can’t handle the truth. It wants it all touchy-feely and then complains when the stock craters and service isn’t up to its expectations. Do women need protection, a leg up? Absolutely, but making Kalanick the poster boy for Silicon Valley’s bro behavior, making him pay the ultimate price, is like singling out one marijuana smoker and jailing him for life for taking a toke.


Sure, Uber went through a bad patch, but it’s nothing that’s not fixable. And we forgive mistakes all the time, and in today’s fast-paced digital culture what happens today is forgotten tomorrow, if it even takes that long. Uber is a business, not a cultural institution living on charity. You get to vote based on usage. And it’s not the public complaining about Uber, but the press and the digerati and everybody not using the service. It’d be like private jet owners complaining about seat pitch on commercial airlines.

Yup, Travis Kalanick was Uber’s Jack Nicholson. And he and a few good men built a business out of whole cloth, unfortunately too many men, but still they built it. And they’ve fought off challengers and governments and… When I go to a foreign country and there’s no Uber I wince, how the hell am I gonna get around? And if you say by taxi…you must own a cab. Never mind that I’ve got no idea what the price is. Hell, you can go on Amazon and buy all day for a visible cost but an Uber breakthrough is being able to tip??

Give me a break.

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