Kalanick is out. Is this the next Silicon Valley’s future comeback, or more of the same?
Only time will tell, but there is catch.
After a tumultuous 2017, numerous protests, demands and fights faced by the Silicon Valley hail-car juggernaut, Travis Kalanick finally stepped down as CEO, on request of five major investors, but, can this be the beginning of the next great return story of Silicon Valley several years down the line à la Steve Jobs? Only time will tell, but as everything with Uber these days, there is catch.
We all know Steve Jobs’ prodigal son story, returning to Apple a decade after been fired from the company he co-founded. A company that in 1996 he found in deep struggle, to the point of almost bankruptcy. Either way, he stepped in, took the challenge, and the rest in history, turning Apple into not only the most valuable company in the world by market capitalisation; but that one that it is embedded into the life of millions, and changed the world and reshaped an entire industry more than once.
Steve Jobs actually attributed the success of his second stint, to been fired, to the struggles and challenges he faced after that tipping point, even stating that it was one the best thing that could happened to him. He started new ventures, gained experience and maturity, which combined with his already known marketing skills, along his laser-focus vision, turned him into the legendary CEO we know today.
lead to the Apple we know today, probaly not very different from the one he left in 1987 when it comes to values, vision and purpose, but with and earned trust and freedom from investors, due to that maturity.
Moreover, we also heard those stories about Jobs not been the nicest person in the room, but still been able to make people deliver their best possible work, something that was true during his 80’s tenure and the Macintosh development, and remained the same during his 90–00’s period until the end of his CEO time. Somehow, that was his style, that was who he was, that was how he succeeded.
Fast forward to the year 2017, and we encounter ourselves with a similar character, under similar circumstances, Travis Kalanick. A bullish founder and CEO, willing to do whatever it takes to make his company succeed (taking things too far at times, and too often recently) that is reported to be not the nicest person to deal with; but yet have managed to create and grow and incredibly massive company, with operations all over the world in less than a decade, maybe even taking pride on those same characteristics as a trade to achieve those milestones.
However, just as Jobs back in the day, Kalanick have been asked to step-down as CEO of his company, as way to renew leadership and focus on growth again, also looking forward to move away from all the issues that caused an enormous and heavy weight to the company during the last couple of years, distracting it from its goals, and even making it lose ground against and growing competition.
But here’s the catch, unlike Jobs, Kalanick won’t be entirely out of the picture; he will remain as a member of the board, one with a significant amount of decision power. So, been this the case, how would that work for the person hired as a CEO, overseen by the former CEO that was asked to resign?
Finally, there is a serious opportunity for Uber to redefine itself; use the same resources and expertise they put into their products to build the greatest one they have ever built, a better company. Jason Fried said before:
“We consider our company a product too. When you begin to think of your company like a product, you can begin to improve it in entirely new ways.” — Jason Fried
Travis Kalanick’s execution and drive cannot be argued, but as the similarities with Steve Jobs removal and return are in fact there, it will be up to him to make that comparison worthwhile, or just more of the same.