Excellent points, Ian, and very well written.
I think what's lost in the greater discussion about Travis's ascent and fall, is not whether he was the wrong person for the job, but whether he was ready for what came beyond the growth phase. During the growth phase, his relentless pursuit created and held the momentum for the company to go from nothing to $70b. That's beyond commendable.
The cautionary tale, to me, is that just as we can find great junior NCO's and Officers, who perform admirably on the battlefield, take good care of their soldiers, and lead with passion, we don't immediately promote them to Chief of Staff levels. They still answer to people senior to them for the remainder of their careers.
I view Uber's story as a case study not of failures of hyper-growth, but of lacking the fundamental oversight someone who has successfully managed at scale could have brought to the table. It would have been a hard pill for Travis to swallow; after all, who wants to leave when they're at the top? Mark Zuckerberg made it look easy, but even he built and surrounded himself with a great team of mentors on his board.
In closing, and to your point, I believe that not every successful business needs to hold a billion dollar valuation or become the next "Uber of ". A "small business" that consistently generates $1–2m/year in revenue is a true success for the owner(s). Maybe we should recalibrate our expectations of growth-focus, and instead ensure that we surround ourselves with people who can offer us guidance, allowing for longterm success.
Hope to catch up with you again before too long!