The Startup Grind 😬
How Travis Kalanick’s Iron Grip Weakened Uber
Several months ago, at an Uber company staff meeting, an employee asked CEO Travis Kalanick about a regulatory matter in Southeast Asia. When Mr. Kalanick said he didn’t know about the issue, Uber’s top operations executive for Asia, Andrew MacDonald, spoke up to tell Mr. Kalanick he’d fill him ...
In a previously unreported survey of company employees last fall, the vast majority of respondents said they believed in Uber’s mission, but many said they were stressed and overworked—a finding shared widely across the company.
Reflecting on one very, very strange year at Uber
As most of you know, I left Uber in December and joined Stripe in January. I've gotten a lot of questions over the past couple of months about why I left and what my time at Uber was like.
It seemed like every manager was fighting their peers and attempting to undermine their direct supervisor so that they could have their direct supervisor's job. No attempts were made by these managers to hide what they were doing: they boasted about it in meetings, told their direct reports about it, and the like....We all lived under fear that our teams would be dissolved, there would be another re-org, and we'd have to start on yet another new project with an impossible deadline. It was an organization in complete, unrelenting chaos.
We loved our work, we loved the engineering challenges, we loved making this crazy Uber machine work, and together we found ways to make it through the re-orgs and the changing OKRs and the abandoned projects and the impossible deadlines. We kept each other sane, kept the gigantic Uber ecosystem running, and told ourselves that it would eventually get better.
Another area has been vacations. For years at Uber, employees in some groups were told to take a break whenever they needed, but that simply caused people to feel pressure never to take time off, said one longtime employee who left last year.
Thinx Promised a Feminist Utopia to Everyone But Its Employees
From inadequate maternity leave to hostility to salary negotiations, Thinx employees saw a gap between the company’s message and their reality.
In interviews over the past month with a half-dozen current and former employees, who asked not to be named for fear of retribution, all described a company culture in which substandard pay, flimsy benefits, and scarce perks are endured in exchange for working toward a mission they truly believe in.
...without a designated human resources manager — which many startups eschew on the premise that such old-school bureaucracy may hinder growth, though as Motherboard found last year, the lack of structure often hinders women’s advancement — there was little recourse for resolving disputes, so the incident ended up driving a permanent wedge.
Let's clear up the air:
- HR isn't bureaucracy that hinders growth
- HR isn't just more than perks and #swag