Startup Advice

Uber’s new boss details “cultural norms” in bid to stop employees being “assholes”

Dominic Powell /

The past year has been a firestorm for global ridesharing powerhouse Uber, with then-chief executive Travis Kalanick resigning after numerous allegations of sexual harassment in the company and high ranking executives streaming out of the startup.

Ex-Expedia boss Dara Khosrowshahi was brought in for the job after two months of the company searching desperately for a female chief executive. At the time, Khosrowshahi told his staff he was “scared” but excited to take on the significant responsibility.

Now, two months into his leadership, the Uber chief executive has laid out the company’s new “cultural norms” in a post on LinkedIn, saying the “culture and approach” that has propelled Uber to its current status will not be what gets the company to the next level.

“Our values define who we are and how we work, but I had heard from many employees that some of them simply didn’t represent the kind of company we want to be,” Khosrowshahi said.

“For instance, ‘toe-stepping’ was meant to encourage employees to share their ideas regardless of their seniority or position in the company, but too often it was used as an excuse for being an asshole.”

“Toe-stepping” is just one of the previous values instilled in Uber employees by Kalanick and his executive team. Others include “principled confrontation”, “always be hustlin’”, and “superpumped”, reports Quartz.

But Khosrowshahi’s outlook strips away some of the initial ‘startup mentality’ that accompanied early day Uber, and takes a more balanced and holistic approach. The chief executive said he aimed to build the values from the bottom up, after receiving more than 1200 submissions from staff, which were then voted on.

“There were some common themes: many people liked how the spirit of the previous values encouraged problem-solving and speed, but they wanted to see more around inclusion, teamwork and collaboration,” he said.

“They also wanted to make clear that we will put integrity at the core of all our decisions, and that we’re unafraid to admit mistakes when they happen.”

The most succinct of Khosrowshahi’s new values is simply: “We do the right thing. Period”. And only one of Kalanick’s original values have made it through to the ‘new’ Uber: “Big bold bets”.

Here’s the full list of Khosrowshahi’s new company values:

“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.

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.

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.

We do the right thing. Period.

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.

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.

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.

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!”

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Dominic Powell

Dominic Powell is the lead reporter at StartupSmart.

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