I really don’t envy Uber’s management these days – especially the CEO and General Counsel. As in all brands, there’s a positioning game that you play for a short while by portraying yourself as a brash, fast growing, and arrogant, young company that really only cares about growth. But as a long-term, sustainable strategy it may not have enough legs – unless supported by plenty of checks and balances of, among other things, egos.
These headlines and the map (sourced from Bloomberg) will be giving the entire management some food for thought and hopefully, they will come up with a long-term measured response:
- Uber Under Attack Around The Globe: Wall Street Journal
- Uber Needs To Say More Than I’m Sorry: Marketplace.org
- Uber In The Middle of A Social Media Whirlwind: Exchange4Media.com
- Things Are Going Downhill Fast For Uber: TheDailyBeast.com
- Uber Drivers Hit With Penalties: The West Australian
- City of Portland Sues Uber: Forbes
- Uber Under Pressure As More Bans & Lawsuits Loom: BBC
- Uber’s Plot To Spy On Reporter Is Latest Controversy: USA Today
- Chicago Police Investigating Allegations That Uber Driver Assaulted Female Customer: Chicago Tribune
- Uber Driver In India, Accused Of Rape, Faces Other Charges: New York Times
We are dealing with a company which has been valued at almost $40 billion recently. The least that the organization can do is own up to its shortcomings, raise its hands and apologize. But it should not just stop there. It should then start to clean up its act, change its business practices and very importantly, learn that each country is a different beast. In order to thrive, and not simply survive, it needs to take into account the dynamics of the host country.
It cannot be an action as farcical as British Petroleum changing its brand and logo BP.
Uber needs to invest some of that hot PE money into good crisis managers (not PR guys), especially given the pace at which it has grown. In countries like India, where there is a dearth of reliable data for its citizens, Uber must make that extra effort and invest in background checks & fix GPS trackers in cars. I’m sure it won’t cost the company even a fraction of the $1.2 billion it recently raised.
It might even be HUGE brand victory if they were to rethink their current Terms & Conditions which absolve them of any wrongdoing by the so-called “third party provider”. A protection, even a limited one, could act as a good service differentiator.
Now it’s up to the management to either get some good PR people to spin another story or to roll up their sleeves and go back to the market more humble, but equally confident & ambitious.