“Uber Fail” is the title of June 26th’s Time magazine cover article. In it author Katy Steinmetz and Matt Vella described the catastrophic fall of Uber, “the world’s most valuable startup” and commented that
“future startups are going to make decisions that will impact the lives of millions, defining the world the way religions and empires used to”.
The article went on to say that if “Uber’s stunning stumble proves anything, it’s that in the absence of any rule makers that can keep up with them, the architects of the new economy – which may be another way of saying, the new world – must hold themselves accountable“.
After reviewing the chronology of Uber’s rise and fall, the author concluded that
“Its also possible that what we’re witnessing is the birth of a new Silicon Valley value, the concept of responsible disruption- one that incorporates inclusion and diversity, unsexy and difficult as they may seem, alongside thinking differently”.
It’s this conclusion that makes me think of Apple CEO Tim Cook’s commencement address at MIT earlier this month, when he pronounced that “technology is there to serve humanity” and asked students to “work toward something greater than yourself.”
Cook then went on to challenge students to be careful not to adhere to the false premise that the path to success involves keeping “your empathy out of your career” and everything has a “ROI”. He cited Apple’s commitment to accessibility for people with disabilities and to the green environment as two examples of the “right thing to do“.
The profile of Uber that emerges in the Time article and of Apple from their CEO’s speech at MIT gives a glimpse into the two companies’ contrasting psyche, values and perhaps explains why Apple has been the most respected brand in the world seven years in a row, with a 800+ billion market value.
I know Uber as a company has revolutionized the transportation industry and put the “sharing economy” on the map for almost every individual. So from that standpoint, Uber should be rewarded for its vision and innovation. However, precisely because transportation is so close to every person’s need, Uber has an extra responsibility to its customers. I hope Uber will come out of this crisis not just stronger but better by thinking differently and acting differently with a different set of corporate values that will inspire not only Silicon Valley but everyone.