Dara Khosrowshahi’s global goodwill tour as Uber’s CEO took in a tech conference in Munich this week before heading to the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Speaking first at the 2018 Digital, Life, Design (DLD) Conference, the former Expedia boss was able to present the German market – and its regulators – with an Uber-branded olive branch while also highlighting some of the positives he inherited when he took over the scandal-plagued business last August.
DLD has posted an edited version of the on-stage interview onto YouTube, in which he repeats the new Uber mantra of “responsible growth, not growth at all costs…”. Part of this responsible growth, as his goodwill tour shows, is Uber’s desire to talk to regulators as “partners, about what we can achieve together.”
But Uber is still prepared to be proactive in these conversations with regulators, and will try to “convince them” as well as listen. When asked specifically about the German market, he said that “there are some regulations which don’t make sense over the next decade…”
The shortcomings of Uber’s “prior management” have been widely discussed and dissected, but Khosrowshahi gave his predecessors credit for putting together “an execution machine” and for building a business “which is everywhere in the world and where the local teams have very strong entrepreneurial control over what they do”.
The entrepreneurial spirit within Uber, it appears, is being controlled rather than killed. “There is a rebel in every start-up, but Uber took it too far,” he admitted.
When asked how it was doing financially, he said that “business is surprisingly good for everything that has happened.” Coverage of his speech elsewhere appends this soundbite from the edited video with an important qualification, “The part that is not going well is the profitability part. This has been a business tuned for growth, and not efficiency.”
The three-and-a-half minute video concludes with his saying that he hopes that Uber will become “one of the greatest comebacks in technology”.
That comeback appears to involve addressing the legacy of the previous regime, without completely ignoring everything that has gone before. The profitability part might be more difficult and take longer than simply doing the right thing.
Here’s the video:
Next stop for Dara, the World Economic Forum in Davos, where he was a panellist on a session discussing trust in technology.
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