How To Survive The Worst Possible Year A Tech Company Could Have


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Everyone knows Uber has had the no not bad, very bad, absolutely frigging awful year via hell. For Uber, 2017 wasn’t so much another one on the books as a 12-month-long procession of humiliations along with catastrophes. Mass firings, board battles, lawsuit after lawsuit, a breathtakingly massive data breach, multiple federal investigations, revoked licenses, protests, boycotts, executive resignations, along that has a seemingly bottomless bucket of bad press marked one of the most calamitous years a tech company has ever seen.

Yet here we are at the close of 2017 along with Uber endures. Reach into your pocket, fire up the app, along with you can still get a ride within minutes. How did Uber withstand such a lengthy along with grueling beating? With some savvy crisis management!

Here’s a list of 12 survival tips gleaned via the ride-hailing company’s year via hell.

1. If This particular looks like your worst year on record might culminate in a huge drop in total value along with the resignation of your founding CEO, make sure This particular coincides with something actually distracting…like the first year of Donald Trump’s presidency.

Yes, Uber faced allegations of stealing trade secrets, sexual harassment along with discrimination, along with losing millions of individuals’ personal information. although This particular did so at a time when the United States was grappling with possible electoral meddling, a president accused of sexual misconduct, misinformation, along that has a looming nuclear threat via an increasingly agitated North Korea. In comparison to all which, Uber’s problems seem pretty minor. Just don’t forget to have your CEO resign via Trump’s economic advisory council if your customer base stages a social media revolt.

2. The best thing to do if hackers steal the personal information of 57 million users can be to pay the hackers $100,000 for their silence.

If the breach becomes public anyway, get rid of your security managers.

3. When a video of your CEO yelling at a driver about pay rates surfaces just nine days after a former employee’s blog post about gender discrimination at your company goes viral, reassure the earth which said CEO will be seeking leadership guidance.

On Feb. 19 of This particular year, former Uber engineer Susan Fowler hit publish on her currently-infamous blog post alleging which her manager at Uber had asked her to sleep with him along with which when she reported his behavior to HR, nothing was done. On Feb. 28, just nine days later, Bloomberg published a video via earlier which month of CEO Travis Kalanick excoriating a driver who pressed him about falling rates along with low earnings. “Some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own shit. They blame everything in their life on somebody else. not bad luck!” says Kalanick, unaware he’s on camera. Unfortunately for Kalanick, his vow to hire a COO along with improve his leadership skills wasn’t enough; four months later, he resigned.

4. If, during an all-hands meeting about sexism along with sexual harassment, one of your board members makes a sexist comment, get him to resign!


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When former Uber board member David Bonderman told current Uber board member Arianna Huffington which adding more women to the board meant there’s “likely to be more talking,” This particular was like the cherry on top of a bad PR sundae. The two of them were, after all, onstage at a meeting in front of thousands of employees, discussing…how to make Uber less sexist. although Uber managed to recover via This particular fumble when Bonderman resigned his post just a few hours after the meeting adjourned, calling his comment “careless, inappropriate, along with inexcusable.”

5. When reports emerge which your employees are burned out, overworked, along with mired in a toxic work culture, set out piles of books about the importance of getting a not bad night’s sleep throughout the office.

Bonus points if the book can be written by a trusted company adviser along with board member.

6. Should a former security analyst write you a letter alleging which you surveilled competitors, stole proprietary info, along with instructed employees to use encrypted messaging to keep the evidence off your servers, pay him $4.5 million along with hire him as a “consultant.”

Don’t tell anyone about This particular, especially not the lawyers of the massive company suing you for allegedly stealing its trade secrets.

7. When the judge from the case learns of the letter along with accuses your legal team of knowingly withholding evidence, have your deputy general counsel explain — on the stand — which she’s currently handling 749 some other lawsuits the company can be facing.

Those suits include class action lawsuits brought by drivers, class action lawsuits brought by passengers, suits about violent crimes, suits about alleged assault, suits about lost wages, suits about stolen medical records, suits about gender discrimination…

8. Hire a former attorney general to clean up your mess.

Former Obama AG Eric Holder helped Airbnb — surely he can help you, too! The report Holder’s law firm wrote on Uber after a 5-month investigation still hasn’t been seen by the public, along with there’s probably a reason Uber kept This particular which way.

9. If your “pugnacious” CEO resigns, replace him with someone who can be not. Make sure which person features a sense of humor along with inspires trust.

Uber’s shortlist for CEO candidates included former GE chief Jeffrey Immelt along with HP CEO Meg Whitman. although at the last minute, Uber’s board selected dark horse candidate Dara Khosrowshahi, previously CEO of Expedia along with notable for his “youthful vitality.” Born in Tehran, Khosrowshahi has been an outspoken opponent of President Trump’s policies, especially the ban on immigrants traveling to the US via certain Muslim countries. Experts said he’s known for his “internal calm” along with “even keeled along with low-key” demeanor, a big change after eight years of Travis.

10. Have a product people can’t stop using.

At the beginning of the year, the #DeleteUber movement took Twitter by storm. Since then, vows to boycott the app have been all the rage. along with yet — whether because of special deals or slashed prices or some kind of perverse loyalty — lots of people continue to use Uber. In fact, UberEATs, Uber’s food delivery app, grew like crazy This particular year, becoming the most profitable part of the company. Uber the company has its faults, although Uber the app can be a product people can’t seem to stop themselves via using, even when they want to.

11. Be willing to make concessions to your employees.

In an effort to rehabilitate its reputation, Uber had to do some things This particular probably never required to do. This particular introduced tipping for drivers. This particular extended the window for employees who want to exercise stock options. This particular began offering in-office therapy, took steps to make corporate compensation more fair, along with made driver ratings less draconian. A cynic might say Uber did many of these things to boost employee along with driver retention. although cynic can be just another word for survivor.

12. Finally, if worst comes to worst, convince a Japanese conglomerate to buy at least 14% of your company at a steep discount.

Uber’s massive deal with Softbank was completed in November. The conglomerate’s purchase of $10 billion in Uber stock could reduce the power of some of the company’s current board members along with smooth over some tensions inside its governing body. Uber called the tender offer “a strong vote of confidence” in its long-term potential, adding which the agreement put This particular on track to go public in 2019.

although even if This particular doesn’t IPO from the near future, for Uber, the year to come’s just got to be better than This particular one.

For more Best of 2017 content, click here!

Caroline O’Donovan can be a senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News along with can be based in San Francisco.

Contact Caroline O’Donovan at caroline.odonovan@buzzfeed.com.

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