Depending on what you read or with whom you speak, when Apple hired former Pepsi CEO John Sculley to provide the ever-petulant Steve Jobs with adult supervision, the former fired the latter, the board fired Jobs or Jobs quit.
Whatever happened remains relevant since Uber finds itself in a similar, if not far worse, predicament than Apple did when Sculley was hired.
I don’t need to repeat each, and every setback, but several DO stand out:
– Misbehaving frat boy CEO Travis Kalanick admitted he needs an experienced executive to help him better manage Uber and himself (after engaging in a heated argument with an Uber driver caught on tape).
– Company president Jeff Jones quit after a mere six months in the position.
– The company was hit with countless sexual harassment suits and creates the widespread perception of an organization that not only embraces harassment, but rewards it.
– A worldwide #DeleteUber boycott.
– The recent departures of many other top executives who headed such critical areas as: research, development of the autonomous driving car and Uber’s artificial intelligence unit.
Talk about a brain drain and a ship listing heavily as it takes on more and more ocean water. This has all of the ingredients necessary for another Leonardo DiCaprio/Kate Winslet summer blockbuster!
Whomever Uber selects as their chief operating officer, she or he is going to need the following personality traits:
– The patience of Job.
– A soothing presence second only to Mother Theresa’s.
– An avuncular Wilford Brimley-type personality that will enable him to rein in the reckless CEO. (Note to Millennials: Please Google Brimley for reference).
She or he will also need the following executive skills:
– The managerial wisdom of a Jack Welch or Jeff Immelt who can oversee the operations of a vast global organization
– The gut instincts of Chicago Cubs General Manager Theo Epstein who can turn around a flailing enterprise by attracting new and superior talent
– The rah-rah motivational charisma of a Joel Osteen who can breathe life into a workplace culture that might be likened to Dickens’ Bleak House.
– The tech savvy of a Bill Gates who can decide which new projects to green light and which offerings to sunset (God, I love ConsultantSpeak)
– The courtroom charisma of a Johnny Cochran who can fend-off, settle or even win intellectual property theft lawsuits from the likes of Google.
Last, and certainly not least, the new COO MUST undestand the nuances of rebuilding a bloodied, bruised and battered brand. And, that takes years, not months or weeks (Note to new COO: I’m available to help you with the latter for the right price or enough free rides).
Uber’s board will obviously select the person they feel is best qualified to lead the brand out of the wilderness but, if I were a betting man, I’d guess either the COO or board will quickly reach the breaking point with Kalanick and send him on his last Uber ride.
That will unshackle the company to begin anew while setting loose the savage who built ground transportation’s version of “The Wolves of Wall Street.”
Kalanick will then start a new venture that will equal Uber in both its revolutionary and revolting ways. And, a new and unnerving story will unfold. And, such is life in the fast lane.