Uber Strategic Management Case Report

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Assignment Question:

Dara Khosrowshahi, the newly appointed Uber CEO, has hired you as a strategic management consultant and asked you to prepare a report for him that focuses on the following items:

  • An assessment and analysis of Uber’s corporate culture prior to his arrival inclusive of the key features of the culture;
  • An analysis if what issues and/or problems need to be prioritized prioritize in order to rebuild and improve the culture at UBER;
  • An analysis of what he has completed thus far; and,
  • What additional actions he could take that would make an even greater contribution toward turning things around at UBER.

Prepare a report for CEO Khosrowshahi focusing on these findings (3-4 pages maximum). APA BUSINESS form single space

seriously follow the guideline

Addition information

While Uber technologies (Uber) had tasted great success in the run-up to its planned IPO in 2019, its journey had been a bumpy one. On June 21, 2017, co-founder Travis Kalanick stepped down as CEO of Uber in the face of a shareholder revolt that made it untenable for him to stay on in that position. Kalanick’s resignation came after a review of practices at Uber that included allegations of sexual harassment, a corporate theft lawsuit, defiance of government regulations, reports of misbehavior, and a toxic corporate culture, leading to the departure of some key executives.

In early 2018 Dara Khosrowshahi, the newly appointed CEO of Uber, faced numerous obstacles in the path of reaching Uber’s 2019 IPO objective: fixing Uber’s culture and helping it evolve some of its own core cultural practices to foster growth and improve stakeholder relationships; contending with lawsuits over a massive data security breach; working with a splintered board and ushering in corporate governance reforms; and regaining the confidence of Uber’s investors, employees, and customers.

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Chaos at Uber: The New CEOs Challenge (2018) While Uber technologies (Uber) had tasted great success in the run-up to its planned IPO in 2019, its journey had been a bumpy one. On June 21, 2017, co-founder Travis Kalanick stepped down as CEO of Uber in the face of a shareholder revolt that made it untenable for him to stay on in that position. Kalanick’s resignation came after a review of practices at Uber that included allegations of sexual harassment, a corporate theft lawsuit, defiance of government regulations, reports of misbehavior, and a toxic corporate culture, leading to the departure of some key executives. In early 2018 Dara Khosrowshahi, the newly appointed CEO of Uber, faced numerous obstacles in the path of reaching Uber’s 2019 IPO objective: fixing Uber’s culture and helping it evolve some of its own core cultural practices to foster growth and improve stakeholder relationships; contending with lawsuits over a massive data security breach; working with a splintered board and ushering in corporate governance reforms; and regaining the confidence of Uber’s investors, employees, and customers. There are 2 accompanying videos suggested by the case writers. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HU43KHdMgMw https://youtu.be/42q4Kj1DNAw Assignment Question: Dara Khosrowshahi, the newly appointed Uber CEO, has hired you as a strategic management consultant and asked you to prepare a report for him that focuses on the following items: • • • • An assessment and analysis of Uber’s corporate culture prior to his arrival inclusive of the key features of the culture; An analysis if what issues and/or problems need to be prioritized prioritize in order to rebuild and improve the culture at UBER; An analysis of what he has completed thus far; and, What additional actions he could take that would make an even greater contribution toward turning things around at UBER. Prepare a report for CEO Khosrowshahi focusing on these findings (3-4 pages maximum). Final PDF to printer CASE 31 Chaos at Uber: The New CEO’s Challenge Syeda Maseeha Qumer Debapratim Purkayastha ICFAI Business School, Hyderabad ICFAI Business School, Hyderabad “I have to tell you I am scared,”1 wrote Dara Khosrowshahi, newly appointed CEO of ridehailing service Uber Technologies Inc., in a memo to his former team at Expedia, Inc.2 Besides growing Uber’s business, analysts said Khosrowshahi had the task of changing the dysfunctional culture within the company and improving corporate governance that had cost co-founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick his job. On June 21, 2017, Kalanick stepped down as CEO of Uber in the face of a shareholder revolt that made it untenable for him to stay on in that position. His resignation came after a review of practices at Uber including allegations of sexual harassment, a corporate theft lawsuit, defiance of government regulations, reports of misbehavior, and a toxic corporate culture leading to the departure of some key executives. Uber’s corporate structure ensured that its founders held super-voting shares and had disproportionate control over the company. Kalanick, because of the special class of shares he owned, enjoyed sweeping authority on the Uber board and nearly complete autonomy in running the company. According to some industry observers, Uber ignored corporate governance in its pursuit of growth and valuation, and flouted ethical norms while hiding behind notions of disruption and innovation. This was fine with investors until the beginning of 2017 when the company’s public image crumbled amid allegations of sexual harassment, they said. “The board chose to ignore the fundamentals of their governance role and failed to provide guidance in correcting a trait which would ultimately endanger the company in many ways.”3 said Prabal Basu Roy, a fund manager. tho75109_case31_C392-C405.indd C-392 The chaos inside Uber’s boardroom escalated in August 2017 when a small group of shareholders aligned with Kalanick dissented against Uber’s biggest investor Benchmark Capital,4 after it filed a lawsuit to oust Kalanick from the board. Benchmark Capital had accused Kalanick of fraud and of interfering in the search for a new CEO—accusations that he had denied. Some analysts felt that Uber’s board needed to grow up as the constant bickering among the members was hurting the company. According to them, the board’s aggressive infighting was spreading confusion and uncertainty among Uber’s investors, customers, and shareholders, and putting the company’s nearly $70 billion market valuation at risk. As Khosrowshahi began his new role at Uber, he had the daunting task of dealing with a fraught Uber board and mending the frayed relations among investors. “Boards are so unpredictable, and this one seems as if they’re at each other’s throats. It’s hard to know if he’ll have the force of personality to navigate that,”5 said Alice Armitage, director of Startup Legal Garage.6 Khosrowshahi would have to figure out a way to unite the divided board and end the acrimony among them. Moreover, he would also have to contend with the legacy of Kalanick who continued to remain on the Uber board. Khosrowshahi said that as Uber’s CEO he wanted to set the course for the future of the company, which included innovating and growing responsibly as well as acknowledging and correcting mistakes of the past. He planned to take the company public by ©IBS Center for Management Research 12/18/18 07:52 PM Final PDF to printer Case 31 Chaos at Uber: The New CEO’s Challenge 2019. “The culture went wrong, and the governance of the company went wrong and the board went in a very bad direction. But if the product is good, then if you can bring in good leadership, you can ultimately bring it together,”7 he said. However, some analysts wondered if the company valued at around $68 ­billion as of January 2018 could maintain its valuation as it prepared for an IPO. BACKGROUND NOTE Uber was co-founded by Kalanick8 and Garrett Camp9 in 2009. The duo was in Europe attending LeWeb, an annual European tech conference. On a snowy night in Paris, Kalanick and Camp could not get a cab. This was when the two came up with the idea of launching an on-demand car-service app. After getting back to San Francisco, Camp convinced Kalanick to partner with him in the new project that could fill the large and lucrative gap in the car service market. UberCab, as it was then known, started its service in San Francisco in the summer of 2010 with only a few cars, a handful of employees, and a small seed round. After entering credit-card information on the app, customers could book a car at the press of a button. The cost was automatically charged to the customer’s account. Uber required its drivers to have their own car and to pass a background check. In August 2010, Ryan Graves, Uber’s first hire, was briefly appointed as CEO of the company. In October 2010, the company was renamed Uber after some regulatory bodies objected to the use of “cab” in UberCab’s name as the entity was operating without a taxi license. Uber closed a $1.25 million seed funding in 2014. Chris Sacca of First Round Capital was its first institutional investor and he invested about half a million dollars in the company. Other investors included Napster co-founder Shawn Fanning, venture capital fund Lowercase Capital, and venture capitalist Mitch Kapor. In December 2010, Graves stepped down as CEO and Kalanick stepped into the position. Graves stayed on as Uber’s head of global operations. In February 2011, Uber closed an $11 million Series A funding round that valued the company at $60 ­million (see Exhibit 1). Benchmark Capital led the round and its partner Bill Gurley joined Uber’s Board of Directors. In May 2011, Uber was launched in New York City and thereafter it expanded to Seattle, Boston, Chicago, and Washington D.C. In December 2011, Uber raised $32 million in its tho75109_case31_C392-C405.indd C-393 C-393 Series B of fund raising from Amazon Inc’s CEO Jeff Bezos, Menlo Ventures, and Goldman Sachs. In July 2012, Uber unveiled its low-cost “Uber X” service. In August 2013, Uber entered India and Africa, and closed a Series C funding round which saw a massive $258 million investment from Google Ventures. In July 2014, Uber entered China after a $1.2 billion funding round. In August 2014, Uber launched its UberPOOL service. Notwithstanding strikes by angry taxi drivers over Uber threatening their livelihood and breaking local taxi rules, and unresolved questions of legal liability, the cab service expanded rapidly. The company continually rolled out new services from freight and helicopter rides to food delivery to driverless cars. Uber upended the tightly regulated taxi industry in many countries and changed the transportation landscape. In 2016, its gross bookings hit $20 ­billion, double that of the previous year (see Exhibit 2). As shown in Exhibits 3 and 4, net revenues were $6.5 ­billion for 2016, although losses were high at $2.8 billion. As of 2017, Uber had a presence in 724 cities in more than 84 countries.10 With a valuation of nearly $68 billion, it was by far the richest of the Silicon Valley’s private unicorn technology companies (see Exhibit 5). Analysts said that while Uber had tasted great success, its journey had been a bumpy one. According to them, the company was synonymous with controversies. Since its launch, Uber had been the subject of ongoing protests from taxi drivers and regulatory bodies who argued that the company should be subjected to the same regulations that they faced. From noncompliance issues to regulatory concerns and lack of driver background checks, Uber drew scrutiny and criticism. The service was banned in The Netherlands and in parts of Thailand and China. Uber’s surge pricing had been one of the most controversial aspects of the company’s business model. Customers equated it with price gouging as it took advantage of users in unfortunate situations. Uber had also been embroiled in a long-standing battle with some labor organizations as it classified its drivers as independent contractors and not employees, which deprived them of various benefits. There had also been cases of sexual assault on passengers, which some activists said happened because the background checks on drivers had not been stringent enough. Uber’s critics went to the extent of saying that the company ignored ethical and legal standards in the name of disruption and valued money, power, and control above morality. 12/18/18 07:52 PM Final PDF to printer PART 2 C-394 Cases in Crafting and Executing Strategy Uber Funding Rounds EXHIBIT 1 Valuation ($ billion) Date Amount/Round Lead Investor Investors April 2017 Undisclosed Amount — — 1 July 2016 $1.15 billion/Debt Financing — Morgan Stanley 4 June 2016 $3.5 billion/Series G — Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund 1 May 2016 Undisclosed Amount/Series G — — 1 Feb 2016 $200 million/Private Equity — Letterone Holdings SA 1 Aug 2015 $100 million/Private Equity — Tata Capital 1 July 2015 $1 billion/Series F — — 6 Feb 2015 $1 billion/Series E — Glade Brook Capital Partners 9 Jan 2015 $1.6 billion/Debt Financing — Goldman Sachs 1 Dec 2014 $1.2 billion/Series E 40.0 Glade Brook Capital Partners 8 June 2014 $1.4 billion/Series D 18.2 Fidelty Investments 9 Aug 2013 $363 million/Series C 3.5 GV 4 Dec 2011 $37 million/Series B — Menlo Ventures Feb 2011 $11 million/Series A 0.06 Benchmark Capital Oct 2010 $1.25 million/Angel — First Round Aug 2009 $200 thousand/Seed — Garrett Camp Travis Kalanick 11 6 29 2 Source: Crunchbase. EXHIBIT 2 Uber Gross Bookings (Q1 2015–Q3 2016) ($ in millions) $6,000.00 $5,400 $5,000 $5,000.00 $3,800 $4,000.00 $3,000.00 $2,149 $2,000.00 $1,512 $1,000.00 $0.00 Q1 2015 Q2 2015 *Q3 2015 Q12016 Q22016 Q32016 *Q3 2015: data not available Source: www.businessinsider.com. tho75109_case31_C392-C405.indd C-394 12/18/18 07:52 PM Final PDF to printer Case 31 EXHIBIT 3 Chaos at Uber: The New CEO’s Challenge C-395 Uber Quarterly Net Revenues, 2012–2016 ($ in millions) $1,584 $1,800 $1,700 $1,600 $1,320 $1,500 $1,400 $1,100 $1,300 $1,200 $960 $1,100 $1,000 $900 16 Q 4’ 16 Q 3’ 16 Q 2’ 16 Q 4’ Q 1’ $389 15 Q 3’ $274 Q 2’ Q 1’ Q 4’ 14 $57 14 Q 3’ $42 $46 14 Q 2’ 14 Q 1’ $29 Q 4’ 13 $19 Q 3’ 13 $13 Q 2’ 13 $8 Q 1’ 13 $4 Q 4’ 12 $2 12 Q 3’ Q 2’ Q 1’ 12 $0 12 $100 $1 $200 $114 $300 15 $228 $400 15 $500 $467 $600 15 $700 $560 $800 Source: www.investing.com/analysis/2017-39;s-uber-ipo-200170565. $750 $750 $520 $500 $602 $450 $385 $250 $175 $109 $52 $18 $12 $8 $7 $7 $5 $4 Q 1’ 1 Q 2 2’ 1 Q 2 3’ 1 Q 2 4’ 1 Q 2 1’ 1 Q 3 2’ 13 Q 3’ 1 Q 3 4’ 1 Q 3 1’ 14 Q 2’ 1 Q 4 3’ 1 Q 4 4’ 1 Q 4 1’ 15 Q 2’ 1 Q 5 3’ 1 Q 5 4’ 1 Q 5 1’ 1 Q 6 2’ 1 Q 6 3’ 1 Q 6 4’ 16 $900 $850 $800 $750 $700 $650 $600 $550 $500 $450 $400 $350 $300 $250 $200 $150 $100 $50 $0 $750 Uber Quarterly Losses, 2012–2016 ($ in millions) $4 EXHIBIT 4 Source: www.investing.com/analysis/2017-39;s-uber-ipo-200170565. tho75109_case31_C392-C405.indd C-395 12/18/18 07:52 PM Final PDF to printer PART 2 C-396 Cases in Crafting and Executing Strategy EXHIBIT 5 Top 10 Privately Owned Technology Unicorns in the World (as of August 2017) Rank Company Latest Valuation ($ in billions) Total Equity Funding ($ in billions) $68.0 $12.9 June 2016 April 2017 Last Valuation 1 Uber 2 Didi Chuxing 50.0 15.1 3 Xiaomi 46.0 1.4 December 2014 4 Airbnb 31.0 3.3 March 2017 5 Palantir 20.0 1.9 October 2015 6 WeWork 20.0 4.4 July 2017 7 Lufax 18.5 1.7 December 2015 8 Meituan-Dianping 18.3 4.4 January 2016 9 Pinterest 12.3 1.5 June 2017 10 SpaceX 12.0 1.1 January 2015 Source: http://graphics.wsj.com/billion-dollar-club/?co=Uber. UBER’S CORPORATE STRUCTURE Uber followed a “founder-friendly” governance structure wherein some board seats carried more voting power than others. In this kind of a dual-class share structure, one class of shares carried one vote while the other class shares came with 10 votes each or more. According to Uber’s articles of incorporation, the company had 11 board seats, 9 of which were controlled by shareholders with super-voting rights. Co-founders Kalanick and Camp along with longtime Uber employee Graves held super-voting shares and controlled a majority of shareholder votes. The trio held sway over company decisions leaving other independent directors who were mostly outsiders with fewer rights and little influence. Kalanick who had a larger stake in the company compared to Camp and Graves owned a special class of voting stock that gave him control over Uber irrespective of what percentage of shares he owned. He reportedly held approximately 10 percent of Uber’s stock, including approximately 16 percent of its voting power and 35 percent of its Class B common stock. According to Davey Alba, a tech writer, “It just so happened that at the time VCs were flush tho75109_case31_C392-C405.indd C-396 with cash, Uber was the hottest investment opportunity. So it raised gobs of money without having to dilute Kalanick’s power on the board. Investors just wanted to get a stake.”11 As of 2016, Kalanick had kept the Uber board small, leaving four board seats empty as shown in Exhibit 6. At the end of 2016 Cheng Wei, founder and chairman of Chinese ride-hailing service Didi Chuxing (Chuxing) joined Uber’s board after Uber sold its China operations to Chuxing in exchange for the company investing $1 billion in Uber. THE CRISIS UNFOLDS The crisis at Uber began in February 2017 when Susan Fowler, a former software engineer at Uber, went public with her account of sexual harassment, discrimination, and extensive sexism inside the company. In a blog post, she described how the human resources department had ignored her complaints, which included being propositioned by her manager. Fowler wrote that even after she had lodged a complaint with HR and higher management, she was told the manager was a “high performer” and he would not be disciplined for his actions. Fowler’s account was allegedly so condemning that it inspired other women 12/18/18 07:52 PM Final PDF to printer Case 31 EXHIBIT 6 Chaos at Uber: The New CEO’s Challenge C-397 Uber Board of Directors (as of 2016) As of 2016 Garrett Camp Ryan Graves Bill Gurley David Bonderman Arianna Huffington Yasir Al Rumayyan CEO Travis Kalanick Four Empty Board Seats Travis Kalanick Co-founder Garrett Camp Co-founder Yasir Al Rumayyan Chief Executive of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund Ryan Graves SVP of Global Operations, Uber Bill Gurley General Partner at venture capital firm Benchmark Capital David Bonderman Co-founder of private Equity Fund TPG Capital Arianna Huffington Founder of media platform Huffington Post As of August 2017 Garrett Camp Ryan Graves Matt Cohler Wan Ling Martello Arianna Huffington Yasir Al Rumayyan New CEO Khosrowshahi Travis Kalanick David Trujillo Cheng Wei Open Seat Matt Cohler (replaced Gurley) General Partner at Benchmark Capital Wan Ling Martello Executive Vice President for Asia, Oceania, and sub-Saharan Africa at Nestlé David Trujillo (replaced Bonderman) Partner at TPG Capital Cheng Wei Co-Founder & CEO of Chinese ride-hailing service Didi Chuxing employees at Uber to come forward with their own stories. This eventually led to at least 200 claims of sexual harassment against the company. Fowler also wrote about the organizational chaos at Uber saying that there was a “Game of Thrones” kind of a political war raging within the ranks of the upper management. According to her, projects were frequently tho75109_case31_C392-C405.indd C-397 abandoned and Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) were changed multiple times each quarter.12 Earlier in January 2017, Uber was accused of undermining a taxi union strike at JFK airport in New York protesting United States President Donald Trump’s refugee ban.13 Subsequently, more than 200,000 users uninstalled their Uber accounts as 12/18/18 07:52 PM Final PDF to printer PART 2 C-398 Cases in Crafting and Executing Strategy part of the #DeleteUber campaign triggered by Kalanick’s decision to be a part of Trump’s business advisory council. Kalanick subsequently resigned from the council. In February 2017, Google’s parent company Alphabet’s self-driving arm Waymo filed a lawsuit against Uber for theft of trade secrets and intellectual property. Alphabet alleged that one of its former executives, Anthony Levandowski, had decamped with 14,000 confidential files related to self-driving car technology that he had downloaded onto an external hard drive. He later started his own self-driving truck company, Otto, which Uber acquired in August 2016. Thereafter, Levandowski was appointed as the head of Uber’s self-driving car program. Alphabet claimed that Uber was using the stolen documents that Levandowski had allegedly taken to advance its selfdriving technology. Though Uber fired Levandowski in May 2017, experts said the move would not protect the company from the explosive charges contained in the lawsuit. To add to its list of problems, Kalanick was caught on a dashcam video berating an Uber driver for questioning him about the company’s treatment of drivers. The video went viral, prompting Kalanick to apologize. In May 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice launched a criminal investigation into Uber’s EXHIBIT 7 use of a secret software tool called “Greyball” that used data collected from the Uber app and other techniques to identify and evade government officials who were trying to clamp down on Uber in areas where its service had not yet been approved. Analysts said the controversies took a toll on Uber’s management team as several of the company’s key executives either resigned or were forced out. Since the start of 2017, 13 high-profile executives had reportedly departed, and Uber had yet to fill many of those roles (see Exhibit 7). Key executive positions including the post of COO, CFO, president, general counsel, and senior vice president of engineering were left vacant at the company. For quite some time, the corporate culture at Uber had been under attack. Critics alleged that the company had a “bro culture” enabled by the top management—covering up sexual harassment at the workplace and cutting ethical corners. One Uber manager, who was later fired, was said to have groped several female co-workers at a company retreat in Las Vegas. Another manager had reportedly threatened to beat an underperforming employee’s head in with a baseball bat. The ride hailing service was also accused of using a woman’s confidential medical record to contradict her claims that she was raped by an Uber driver in India. An internal email leaked Top Executive Departures at Uber Name of the Executive Designation Jeff Jones Uber President Ryan Graves SVP Global Operations Emil Michael SVP of Business Amit Singhal Senior Vice President of Engineering Raffi Krikorian Senior Director of Engineering at Advanced Technologies Center Charlie Miller Senior Engineer of Uber’s Autonomous Driving Division Ed Baker Vice President of Product and Growth Gary Marcus AI Labs director Brian McClendon Vice President of Maps Rachel Whetstone Head of Policy and Communications Anthony Levandowski Head of Uber’s self-driving car unit tho75109_case31_C392-C405.indd C-398 12/18/18 07:52 PM Final PDF to printer Case 31 Chaos at Uber: The New CEO’s Challenge in 2013 said Kalanick had allegedly instructed Uber employees at a company party on the ground rules for partying and having sex with co-workers. According to some Uber employees, the culture at the company was aggressive and demanding with emphasis on hustling, toe-stepping, and meritocracy. “This is a company where there has been no line that you wouldn’t cross if it got in the way of success,”14 said Hadi Partovi, an Uber investor. However, the final nail in the coffin was the blog post by Fowler. Calling the behavior meted out to Fowler “abhorrent & against everything we believe in,” Kalanick tweeted that “anyone who behaves this way or thinks this is OK will be fired.”15 He announced that the company would launch an independent investigation into Fowler’s claims. He hired former U.S. attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. and his colleague Tammy Albarrán, partners at the law firm Covington & Burling LLP, to probe the matter and conduct a review of Uber’s corporate culture. On March 1, 2017, Uber’s Board of Directors unanimously approved a resolution establishing a Special Committee of the Board16 to look into the allegations. The team also involved board member Arianna Huffington and the company’s newly appointed human resources chief, Liane Hornsey. Meanwhile, Uber investors Freada Kapor Klein and Mitch Kapor wrote an open letter to Uber’s board and investors criticizing the company for choosing a team of insiders to investigate the matter. According to them, Holder had previously worked on Uber’s behalf to advocate the company’s concerns while Huffington was on the board of the company. Hornsey reported to the executive team. “We are disappointed to see that Uber has selected a team of insiders to investigate its destructive culture and make recommendations for change. To us, this decision is yet another example of Uber’s continued unwillingness to be open, transparent, and direct,”17 they wrote. In response to the letter, the review committee said it would conduct the investigation impartially. THE HOLDER REPORT On June 13, 2017, Uber released the results of the highly anticipated internal investigation. Lack of oversight and poor governance were some of the key issues running through the findings of the report. The Holder report specifically identified Kalanick as part of the problem as the first line of the report read, “Review and Reallocate the Responsibilities of tho75109_case31_C392-C405.indd C-399 C-399 Travis Kalanick.” The report in total made 47 recommendations including emphasizing more on diversity and companywide performance reviews, and installing an independent chair and oversight committee to handle ethics issues. In the area of corporate governance, the report advised that the board should have greater independence and the additional board members should be directors with meaningful experience on other boards and should exercise independent oversight of Uber’s management. The same day, Kalanick in an email to employees announced that that he was taking time off to mourn his mother, who was killed in a boating accident. Kalanick said the company would be run by an executive committee and that he would be available if needed. Uber’s SVP and business leader Emil Michael, a close confidante of Kalanick who had reportedly been pressured to resign following the investigation, also left the company. In addition, at least 20 other employees were fired as a result of a separate investigations related to sexual harassment and discrimination by law firm Perkins Coie. Uber’s board unanimously decided to adopt all the recommendations for improving corporate governance including sexual harassment prevention and improving workplace diversity. However, during the meeting, Uber board member David Bonderman made a sexist remark18 and had to resign thereafter. David Trujillo, a partner at the private equity firm TPG Capital, replaced Bonderman. Also, Uber appointed Nestlé executive Wan Ling Martello (Martello) to the board. She was the second woman after Huffington to serve as an Uber Director. INVESTORS REVOLT When Uber became embroiled in a series of legal and ethical scandals, the investors who until then saw little wrong with Kalanick’s aggressive antics became suddenly combative. They felt that their investment in Uber was at risk and started agitating for change at the top as the #DeleteUber campaign and Fowler’s complaints gained traction. Exhibit 8 illustrates the impact of the scandals on Uber’s market share. The Board of Directors, who were under fire themselves, decided to replace Kalanick but that was easier said than done. According to Richard Mahony, an expert in communication strategy and investor relations, “[Kalanick’s super-voting shares] has made the task of removing him much more complicated. It took a former 12/18/18 07:52 PM Final PDF to printer PART 2 C-400 EXHIBIT 8 Cases in Crafting and Executing Strategy Impact of Senior Leadership Scandals on Uber’s U.S. Market Share Uber 90.00% 83.5% Lyft 79.1% 80.00% 78.7% 70.00% 60.00% 50.00% 40.00% 30.00% 20.00% 20.9% 16.5% 21.3% 10.00% 0.00% Before #deleteuber campaign (Week up to Jan 29) After #deleteuber campaign (Week up to Feb 19) Following Susan Fowler Story (Week up to Feb 24) Source: TXN Solutions. attorney general and a nearly constant stream of media leaks to pry Mr. Kalanick out of his seat.”19 Five of Uber’s major investors—Benchmark Capital, First Round Capital, Lowercase Capital, Menlo Ventures, and Fidelity Investments—which together controlled 40 percent of the company’s votes and owned more than a quarter of Uber’s stock, demanded Kalanick’s resignation. In the letter titled “Moving Uber Forward,” the investors wrote to Kalanick that he must immediately leave. On the other hand, some Uber board members including Camp and Huffington extended support to Kalanick as they believed that his leadership was necessary for Uber to survive in the aggressive taxi industry. Huffington even attested to Kalanick’s willingness to change. The shareholders’ unrest, however, made it untenable for Kalanick to stay on at the company. Finally, after hours of negotiations and consultations with his confidants, Kalanick agreed to step down on June 21, 2017. According to Fast Company’s Ainsley Harris, “Kalanick held on to Uber’s reins in the face of scandal after scandal—sexual harassment, discrimination, obstruction of regulatory enforcement, privacy violations. But when shareholders (with checkbooks and tho75109_case31_C392-C405.indd C-400 connections) at last found their voice, he had little choice but to step down. Quite simply, he needs their money.”20 Kalanick, however, continued to serve on Uber’s Board of Directors. “I love Uber more than anything in the world and at this difficult moment in my personal life I have accepted the investors request to step aside so that Uber can go back to building rather than be distracted with another fight,”21 he said in a statement. A day after his resignation, Gurley, who pushed Kalanick to leave, resigned from the Uber board. He was replaced by his colleague, Matt Cohler, also a partner at Benchmark Capital. CORPORATE GOVERNANCE FIASCO Experts attributed the root of Uber’s problems to weak corporate governance marked by a rapid chase after growth, the cult of Kalanick, and the company’s failure to address workplace issues. They felt that Uber’s Board of Directors did not care about governance issues and let Kalanick run the company the way he did as long as profits were generated and 12/18/18 07:52 PM Final PDF to printer Case 31 Chaos at Uber: The New CEO’s Challenge growth achieved. According to Jean-Louis Gassée, Editor of Monday Note, a tech and media blog, “Uber’s investors had one goal—the IPO—and one strategy: create a market position so dominant that it would eliminate the competition and, as a result, provide the pricing power that would support a stratospheric IPO price. As for tactics, investors left the matter to Kalanick while looking elsewhere.”22 Critics contended that Uber’s board had failed to institute a corporate governance framework that focused on the legal, regulatory, institutional, and ethical environment of the company. They added that the continued silence of board members had encouraged employees to commit and engage in criminal conduct, opened the door to corporate wrongdoing, and contributed to more lawsuits.23 Only when the scandals reached too far and investors realized that they could lose their money if Uber’s valuation was marked down, had the board woken up and fired Kalanick, they said. UBER’S BOARDROOM DRAMA Amidst a series of scandals, Uber’s Board of Directors found themselves divided. On August 10, 2017, investor Benchmark Capital, which held a 13 percent stake in Uber and spearheaded Kalanick’s ouster, filed a lawsuit against him for fraud, breach of contract, and breach of fiduciary duty. The investor wanted him removed from the Uber board. According to Benchmark Capital, Kalanick had concealed material information from investors when he created three new board seats and expanded Uber’s board from 8 to 11 directors in June 2016. Kalanick gave himself control to appoint members to those seats, it alleged. Benchmark Capital felt that Kalanick had covered up for the company’s failings and his own mismanagement before the Board of Directors in order to retain and increase his own power on the board. It called him a toxic force at Uber and held him responsible for its cultural failings. Kalanick’s spokesman said the lawsuit was peppered with lies and false allegations. However, on August 31, 2017, a Delaware judge stayed the lawsuit and sent the case for arbitration, moving the legal battle out of the ­public eye. Meanwhile, some pro-Kalanick investors including Shervin Pishevar, Managing Director of Sherpa Capital;24 Ron Burkle, co-founder of Yucaipa Companies;25 and Adam Leber, an investor who managed Maverick Records,26 sent an email to Uber tho75109_case31_C392-C405.indd C-401 C-401 investors and the board members asking Benchmark Capital to withdraw the lawsuit, divest its shares, and step down from Uber’s board. According to them, the tactics of Benchmark Capital were “ethically dubious and, critically, value-destructive rather than value enhancing.”27 They accused Gurley of holding Uber hostage to a public relations disaster by demanding Kalanick’s resignation. Calling it a “fratricidal” move against Kalanick, the investors said the lawsuit could harm Uber’s valuation, risk the company’s ability to raise funds, and hinder the search for a new CEO. They wanted Kalanick to make a comeback at Uber in an operational capacity. Commenting on the fallout, Heather Somerville, a technology reporter, wrote, “The division and hostility emerging among Uber investors and directors opens a new front in a highly unusual public battle for Silicon Valley. It is rare for a venture firm to sue the central figure of a valuable portfolio company, and equally unexpected for investors to make a counter-move to push out a fellow investor backing the same company.”28 According to some analysts, with the power play and ego battles among Uber’s Board of Directors, the company had been pushed to the point of a crisis. They felt that both the pro-Kalanick and proBenchmark factions were fighting for short-term personal gains and risking damage for everyone involved, including Uber’s employees and shareholders. On August 10, 2017, Graves, Uber’s longest running executive, announced that he would be stepping down from his role as SVP of global operations at Uber but would continue to remain on Uber’s board. The search for Kalanick’s replacement also left the Uber board deeply divided as they squabbled over the choice of CEO. Meg Whitman,29 CEO of tech giant Hewlett-Packard, and Jeffrey R. Immelt,30 former CEO of General Electric, were the front runners for the CEO’s post. While Kalanick and his loyalists Huffington and Yasir bin Othman Al-Ruayyan also an Uber board member supported Immelt, Team Benchmark Capital, including Cohler and Graves, favored Whitman. Later, Immelt pulled out from the race allegedly because he did not have the necessary support from Uber’s board. Meanwhile, Whitman, a strong contender, started negotiating for conditions including limiting Kalanick’s clout and potentially reshaping the Board of Directors were she to accept the job. She showed strong affiliation toward Benchmark Capital that wanted Kalanick’s removal. 12/18/18 07:52 PM Final PDF to printer PART 2 C-402 Cases in Crafting and Executing Strategy As a result, some of the Directors who were reportedly put off by Whitman’s tactics swung decisively in favor of Khosrowshahi who until then had not even been in the reckoning. They felt that Khosrowshahi was a stronger candidate and came with fewer disadvantages. Finally, on August 29, 2017, Uber’s board voted unanimously to appoint Khosrowshahi, an Iranian American who had led Expedia for 12 years, as Uber’s new CEO. And just when the public thought that Uber would not get any worse, in November 2017 the company announced that it had discovered a major data breach as part of a board investigation into its business practices. Uber had concealed a massive cyberattack that took place in October 2016 that affected around 57 million driver and customer accounts whose personal data had been stolen. The company revealed that it had paid the hackers $100,000 to delete the stolen data and prevented the news from going public. The deal was allegedly arranged by the company’s chief security officer Joe Sullivan under the watch of Kalanick. Khosrowshahi said he had only learned of the breach after he took over as CEO of Uber in September 2017 and publicly apologized for the hack. “None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it. While I can’t erase the past, I can commit on behalf of every Uber employee that we will learn from our mistakes. We are changing the way we do business, putting integrity at the core of every decision we make and working hard to earn the trust of our customers,”31 he said in a company blog post. THE ROAD AHEAD Despite a tumultuous 2017, Uber’s business continued to grow. In the second quarter of 2017, Uber raked in $8.7 billion in gross bookings, a 17 percent increase from the previous quarter and a 102 percent increase year-over-year.32 The company also curbed losses. In the second quarter of 2017, adjusted net loss fell almost 9 percent quarter-over-quarter to $645 million compared to $708 million in the first quarter. The company’s adjusted net revenue amounted to $1.75 billion, a 17 percent growth compared to the first quarter of 2017. Buoyed by holiday travel, Uber’s adjusted losses narrowed to $741 million in the fourth quarter of 2017, compared with $1.02 billion during the third quarter.33 Meanwhile, gross bookings and net revenue both rose 61 percent year on year, reaching $11.1 billion in bookings and $2.2 billion in net revenues, a record level for the company. Exhibit 9 presents a summary of Uber’s financial performance for 2017. In February 2018, Uber settled its legal dispute over trade secrets against Waymo in a deal that gave Alphabet a 0.34 percent stake in Uber, worth about EXHIBIT 9 Summary of Uber’s Quarterly Financial Performance, 2017 Net revenue Adjusted ebitda $bn 3 Net income* 2 1 0 –1 –2 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 * Includes stock-based compensation Source: Financial Times reporting; Uber https://www.ft.com/content/a0f2af96-1117-11e8-940e-08320fc2a277. tho75109_case31_C392-C405.indd C-402 12/18/18 07:52 PM Final PDF to printer Case 31 EXHIBIT 10 Chaos at Uber: The New CEO’s Challenge C-403 Uber’s Cultural Norms Under Kalanick Under Khosrowshahi 1. Customer obsession (Start with what is best for the customer). 2. Make magic (Seek breakthroughs that will stand the test of time.) 3. Big bold bets (Take risks and plant seeds that are five to ten years out.) 4. Inside out (Find the gap between popular perception and reality.) 5. Champion’s mind-set (Put everything you have on the field to overcome adversity and get Uber over the finish line.) 6. Optimistic leadership (Be inspiring.) 7. Superpumped (Ryan Graves’s original Twitter proclamation after Kalanick replaced him as CEO; the world is a puzzle to be solved with enthusiasm.) 8. Be an owner, not a renter (Revolutions are won by true believers.) 9. Meritocracy and toe-stepping (The best idea always wins. Don’t sacrifice truth for social cohesion and don’t hesitate to challenge the boss.) 10. Let builders build (People must be empowered to build things.) 11. Always be hustlin’ (Get more done with less, working longer, harder, and smarter, not just two out of three.) 12. Celebrate cities (Everything we do is to make cities better.) 13. Be yourself (Each of us should be authentic.) 14. Principled confrontation (Sometimes the world and institutions need to change in order for the future to be ushered in.) 1. We build globally, we live locally. We harness the power and scale of our global operations to deeply connect with the cities, communities, drivers, and riders that we serve, every day. 2. We are customer obsessed. We work tirelessly to earn our customers’ trust and business by solving their problems, maximizing their earnings, or lowering their costs. We surprise and delight them. We make short-term sacrifices for a lifetime of loyalty. 3. We celebrate differences. We stand apart from the average. We ensure people of diverse backgrounds feel welcome. We encourage different opinions and approaches to be heard, and then we come together and build. 4. We do the right thing. Period. 5. We act like owners. We seek out problems and we solve them. We help each other and those who matter to us. We have a bias for action and accountability. We finish what we start and we build Uber to last. And when we make mistakes, we’ll own up to them. 6. We persevere. We believe in the power of grit. We don’t seek the easy path. We look for the toughest challenges and we push. Our collective resilience is our secret weapon. 7. We value ideas over hierarchy. We believe that the best ideas can come from anywhere, both inside and outside our company. Our job is to seek out those ideas, to shape and improve them through candid debate, and to take them from concept to action. 8. We make big bold bets. Sometimes we fail, but failure makes us smarter. We get back up, we make the next bet, and we go! Source: https://www.uber.com/en-IN/newsroom/ubers-new-cultural-norms/. $245 million. The settlement also included an agreement to ensure that Waymo’s confidential information was not incorporated into Uber technology, which Waymo said was its main intent in bringing the lawsuit. As part of his cultural overhaul at Uber, Khosrowshahi introduced eight new cultural norms for Uber, replacing the 14 values first introduced by his predecessor Kalanick, in 2015, as shown in Exhibit 10. Khosrowshahi also made some changes internally, including hiring a new set of executives. In October 2017, he appointed Tony West, a former federal prosecutor, from PepsiCo as Uber’s new Chief Legal Officer. Barney Harford, the former CEO of online travel site Orbitz, who has been working as a tho75109_case31_C392-C405.indd C-403 senior adviser to Khosrowshahi at Uber since October 2017, was named Chief Operating Officer at Uber. Uber’s valuation of nearly $70 billion as shown in Exhibit 11 left some analysts wondering if and when the company would go public. However, some analysts were concerned that all the scandals and internal strife could result in Uber’s market value going down. Following the company’s scandal-­ridden year, four mutual fund companies marked down their investments in Uber by as much as 15 percent for the quarter ended June 30, 2017.34 However, in January 2018 a group of investors35 led by SoftBank Group Corp36 acquired a 17.5 percent stake in Uber, thereby providing the much-needed boost to the 12/18/18 07:52 PM Final PDF to printer PART 2 C-404 EXHIBIT 11 Cases in Crafting and Executing Strategy Uber’s Market Valuation $ 70 60 Valuation 40 40 30 Funding 20 10 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 0 Source: CB Insights. controversy-ridden company. The deal brokered by Khosrowshahi, included a large purchase of shares from existing Uber investors and employees at a discounted valuation. SoftBank became Uber’s largest shareholder with a stake of 15 percent. As part of the terms of the deal, Uber would expand its board from 11 to 17 members including four independent directors and limit voting power of some early shareholders. Benchmark had also agreed to drop its lawsuit against Kalanick upon completion of the deal. Analysts said that, going forward, Khosrowshahi would have to face some daunting tasks, including prepping Uber for the long-awaited IPO. According to them, another challenge for him would be working with his predecessor. The company still bore the imprint of Kalanick, who remained a major shareholder and a board member of Uber, all of which would give him significant influence over Uber’s future. The question, according to some analysts, was whether with Kalanick on the board, Khosrowshahi would be able to make the decisions that he needed to make.37 As Uber set out to incorporate the basic tenets of corporate governance, a key task for Khosrowshahi would be dealing with an uptight board whose divisions and rivalries had reached epic proportions and ending the bitter war among the Board of Directors. Some key challenges before Khosrowshahi were: fixing Uber’s culture and helping evolve some of its own core cultural practices to foster growth and improve stakeholder relationships; working with a splintered board and ushering in corporate governance reforms; and regaining the confidence of its investors, employees, and customers. Sanket Vijayasarathy, a tech journalist, “[G]iven the timing of his entry, Khosrowshahi had a lot of fires to douse, which by no means is an easy task. The silver lining to this was that despite the events of the past year, Uber financial situation was still good. The company is still in a good position today, and the recent cyber-attack may hurt the company further, but not so much as to cause a collapse. This still gives time for Khosrowshahi to turn the company around.”38 ENDNOTES 1 Kara Swisher, “‘I Have to Tell You I Am Scared’: Dara Khosrowshahi Says in a Memo to Expedia’s Staff That He Has Finally Been Hired at Uber,” August 29, 2017, www.recode.net. 2 One of the world’s leading online travel companies. 3 “The Uber Episode: Is Monoculturalism the Real Problem?” June 30, 2017, www.livemint .com. 4 A US-based venture capital firm responsible for the early stage funding of successful startups including Dropbox, Twitter, Uber, Snapchat, and Instagram. 5 Carolyn Said, “History of Uber’s CEO Pick Praised,” August 29, 2017, www.pressreader .com. 6 An innovative program in which law students provide legal work for early stage Tech and BioTech startups. tho75109_case31_C392-C405.indd C-404 7 Seth Fiegerman, “Uber CEO Says Company Plans to Go Public in 2019,” November 9, 2017, http://money.cnn.com. 8 Kalanick was a college dropout whose first business venture went bankrupt. He sold his second start-up Red Swoosh, a contentdelivery company to Akamai Technologies for $20 million. 9 Camp was an entrepreneur who had sold his company StumbleUpon, a Web discovery engine, to eBay for $75 million in 2007. 10 https://uberestimator.com/cities. 11 Davey Alba, “Even Uber’s Crisis Won’t Kill Founder Worship in Tech,” June 13, 2017, www.wired.com. 12 Julia Carrie Wong, “Uber’s ‘Hustle-Oriented’ Culture Becomes a Black Mark on Employees’ Résumés,” March 7, 2017, www.theguardian .com. 13 On January 27, 2017, Trump signed an executive order for a temporary ban on refugees and a suspension of visas for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries. 14 Leslie Hook and Hannah Kuchler, “Uber’s Turmoil Compounded by David Bonderman’s Sexist Quip,” June 14, 2017, www.ft.com. 15 Danica Kirka, “Uber to Investigate Sexual Harassment Claim by Engineer,” February 20, 2017, www.chicagotribune.com. 16 The investigation team conducted over 200 interviews with current and former employees of Uber who shared a broad range of perspectives. Covington interviewed individuals with knowledge of Fowler’s allegations, employees who reported workplace environment-related complaints, employee representatives of Uber’s diversity groups, and present and former members of the Senior Executive Team. 12/18/18 07:52 PM Final PDF to printer Case 31 17 Mitch & Freada Kapor, “An Open Letter to The Uber Board and Investors,” https:// medium.com, February 24, 2017. 18 As the board was discussing the addition of a new female board member, Huffington said that the presence of one woman on the board would eventually lead to more. To this, Bonderman retorted “actually what it shows is that it’s much more likely to be more talking.” After the meeting, Bonderman apologized and later announced his resignation from the board. 19 Richard Mahony, “Uber’s Shareholder Revolt,” June 14, 2017, www.mahonypartners.com. 20 Ainsley Harris, “Uber’s Ousted CEO Travis Kalanick Discovered the Limits of Founder Control—The Hard Way,” June 21, 2017, www.fastcompany.com. 21 Sam Byford, “Travis Kalanick Resigns as Uber CEO,” June 21, 2017, www.theverge.com. 22 Jean-Louis Gassée, “Travis Kalanick’s Bosses Share Just as Much Blame for the Uber Calamity,” June 28, 2017, https://qz.com. tho75109_case31_C392-C405.indd C-405 23 Chaos at Uber: The New CEO’s Challenge Davey Alba, “Even Uber’s Crisis Won’t Kill Founder Worship in Tech,” June 13, 2017, www.wired.com. 24 San Francisco-based venture capital firm. 25 An American private equity firm. 26 A U.S.-based music company. 27 Heather Somerville, “Uber Investors Seek to Oust Benchmark After ‘Destructive’ Lawsuit– Report,” August 11, 2017, www.cnbc.com. 28 Ibid. 29 Meg Whitman, a tech veteran, is one of the most respected corporate executives in the world having led companies like eBay. 30 Jeffrey R. Immelt was the chairman of GE from 2001 until August 1, 2017. 31 Mike Isaac, Katie Benner, and Sheera Frenkel, “Uber Hid 2016 Breach, Paying Hackers to Delete Stolen Data,” November 21, 2017, www.nytimes.com. 32 Johana Bhuiyan, “Uber is Curbing its Losses and Growing its Business While it Searches for a New CEO,” August 23, 2017, www.recode.net. C-405 33 Leslie Hook, “Uber Pares Quarterly Losses and Lifts Revenues,” February 14, 2018, www.ft.com. 34 Trevor Hunnicutt, “Unhappy Uber Investors Mark Down Value of the Scandal-Ridden Ride-Sharing Company,” August 23, 2017, www.independent.co.uk. 35 The investor group led by SoftBank includes Dragoneer Investment Group and Sequoia Capital. 36 SoftBank Group Corp. is a Japanese multinational conglomerate that together with its subsidiaries provides information technology and telecommunication services. 37 Marisa Kendall, “Uber’s Ex-CEO Isn’t Really Leaving. Can the Company Change Anyway?” June 28, 2017, www.santacruz sentinel.com. 38 Sanket Vijayasarathy, “Uber Hacking Scandal Proves Ghost of Ousted Travis Kalanick Still Haunts The Ride-Hailing Company,” November 23, 2017, www.india today.in. 12/18/18 07:52 PM
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Explanation & Answer


Outline: Strategic Management Report
• Uber’s Corporate Culture
The corporate culture of any company refers to the beliefs and behaviors that help in the
determination of interaction patterns of the employees and management.
• Analysis of Issues for Prioritization to Improve the Culture of the Company
From the above issues, it is evident that the failures of Uber emanate from the lack of dealing
with issues of corporate governance and workplace issues.
• Analysis of Current CEO’s Achievements and the Improvement Strategies
Uber’s current CEO has worked a lot for the advancement of the company and its recovery
from Kalanick’s era that had put the company at a bad place.


Strategic Management Report




Strategic Management Report
Uber’s Corporate Culture
The corporate culture of any company refers to the beliefs and behaviors that help
determine the interaction patterns of the employees and management. The corporate culture is
also a determinant of employee and management interaction with handling outside business
transactions. An organizational culture develops over time as the employees continue to
practice it, and the management embraces that (Amah, 2013). There are four distinct types of
culture: the clan, ad hoc, market, and hierarchy culture. The focus of this section will be an
analysis of the corporate culture at Uber, which is a market corporate culture. A market
corporate culture is where there is a keen focus on the organization's results. This means that
the company goes down to business, fostering a competitive environment even among coworkers.
Uber is a company that has experienced massive strides and successes since its
inception in 2009. Despite this, it has faced numerous challenges emanating from its market
corporate culture. Qumar & Purkayastha (n.d) note that "This is a company where there has
been no line that you wouldn’t cross if it got in the way of success." This statement shows
that the company has no limits in what it could do in the pursuit of its success. One of the
characteristics of this culture evident from the company is that it has produced a toxic work
environment. When a company is results-driven and fosters competition among employees,
there is bound to be up against each other. This may promote an environment where
employees engage in dishonest practices to be ahead of their colleagues. At Uber, this is
evident in that there was a kind of game of thrones war among the top leadership. This led to
the abandonment of objectives and key results frequently, which interfered with the
company's overall productivity in the long run.
The toxic culture is also evident in the sexual harassment cases that have come up in
the company. There have been accusations that female employees have fallen prey to sexual
harassment creating a not so friendly environment for their maximum productivity. The
desire to achieve results has brought a form of Hobbesian culture in the company. There has
been a cover-up of offenses by the top performers. The case study refers to this as the 'bro
culture.' There is an employee who even indicates that on reporting a sexual harassment case,
she was informed that the offender was a top performer. Therefore no action would be taken
against the individual.
Further, sexual harassment has spiraled over to the 'independent contractors' or the
drivers who have also been accused of sexually harassing the clientele, which affects the
brand reputation of the company (Arli et al., 2018). This has been traced back to the lack of
proper background checks of the drivers before the company hires them. This shows that the
company focuses on the results in this corporate culture, such that the means to get to results
do not matter. It compromises the ethics and morals of doing business.
Another instance that can define the market corporate culture, which is results-driven,
is the case of theft of trade secrets. There is a shortcoming on the side of Uber because it
could have conducted background checks on the individual who brought the idea to the
company. The lack of getting proper information on the supposed innovation cost Uber good
relations with fellow companies and, once again, their brand reputation. Despite all these ills
brought about by the negative corporate culture, there is one positivity in that Uber has grown
exponentially, attracting influential investors. This is because of its focus on innovative
practices boosting the company's performance over the years.



Analysis of Issues for Prioritization to Improve the Culture of the Company
From the above issues, it is evident that the failures of Uber emanate from the lack of
dealing with corporate governance issues and workplace issues. Corporate governance is the
system of direction and control, which dictates the management styles and strategies of a
company's board of governors (Mudashiru et al., 2014). One element of corporate governance
that the new CEO should prioritize is accountability. There is a need for the top management
and board to explain to the stakeholders the actions they are taking for the company. This
prevents activities that would be detrimental to the sustainability of the company. Due to
Kalanick's position at Ub...

Excellent resource! Really helped me get the gist of things.


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