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For those not familiar with the title, Ronald Miller was a character played by Patrick Dempsey in the 1980s teen movie “Can’t Buy Me Love.” In it, Miller, a complete nerd, through both luck and money, wound up dating the coolest girl in high school, thus skyrocketing his popularity. Unfortunately, he started believing that he was really that cool, and it cost him his popularity, his fame, and the love of this life.
Of course, this being an 80s movie, he realized the error of his ways, and redeemed himself in time to save himself and his popularity, and as expected, regain the girl’s love.
I believe the tagline of the movie was “He went from totally geek, to totally chic, to totally out of control.”
Sadly, that same tagline could currently be applied to Uber.
Unlike an 80s movie, real life doesn’t always have a happy ending, and Uber, the brilliant, once game-changing startup is quickly becoming the pariah of the tech space. Why is this champion of the new economy quickly falling from corporate grace?
Or, to put it another way, they believe they’re invincible.
When companies start to do well, get noticed, and grow at a lightning pace, they have to realize that every single decision they make is a potential target for anyone who might want to take them down. If a company is built on a solid foundation of ethics and responsibility, they can first look to themselves for guidance on how to proceed as they grow. But if a company is founded, however, with less noble goals, it’s up to those outside the company (usually the investors,) to set boundaries, and in some cases, make some hard decisions. That has yet to happen at Uber, and unless it happens really soon, we may be about to watch a massive implosion of a company that will have no one at fault but themselves.
Nice still wins in business. Maybe not as quickly, and maybe not as visibly at first. But long term? Ethics simply must prevail for a company to be successful. The economy of the next hundred years, based on transparency, trust and personal recommendation, won’t allow it any other way.