Uber’s announcement that its much maligned founder and CEO Travis Kalanick was stepping down couldn’t come soon enough for many fans of the ride service. The “toxic culture” he allegedly created and allowed to flourish finally reached a tipping point, largely driven by intense scrutiny from the outside.
As I explain in my forthcoming book, Brand Under Fire, when intense scrutiny exposes flawed corporate culture, the fall can be fast and dramatic. Frankly, this went slower than I would have expected, but that is not uncommon in companies led by the founder.
Ultimately, a new leader will clean things up at Uber in ways that will benefit employees, customers, and other key constituents. The new leader will need to dig deep to the DNA level of the brand to remedy the causes of this toxic culture.
Often, the competitive instincts and behaviors that help a start-up rapidly ascend, simply are not sustainable once the company matures. The real headline here is that Uber is finally growing up. It’s an opportunity for new leadership to capitalize on early success with a more sustainable and durable culture.