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Uber is Enron Deja Vu: Culture Trumps Strategy


For over a  year now I have blogged here about the red flags flying about Travis Kalanick and Uber. Many investigative articles have been published over this time, in the New York Times and other publications, which have raised disturbing questions about Uber, Kalanick and some members of his team. The Board of Directors has finally taken action but it feels like its a day late and a dollar short.  Why did it take so long?  I have bluntly used the epithet that “Uber is Trump,” but now on reflection, it is more apt to describe Uber as Enron the sequel, and “deja vu all over again.” Remember the audio of two Enron electricity traders laughing about “screwing grandma?” That is Uber. 

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Rogers Ranks Lowest In Canada Wireless Customer Care


Many observers and former employees say it is run like an offshore sweatshop, complete with stressful bullying No quality customer service can come from such a dysfunctional work environment. The gig economy philosophy is apparent with employee’s reduced to total submission to draconian work rules, total surveillance of all voice and written communication, and apparent high turnover. Burnout is common. Three years ago, there was something of a Sykes employee revolt, when a number of supervisory employees were fired, and an anonymous broadcast email was posted describing the poor management practices. Outsourcing like this has been a common means to cut costs in the wireless industry.

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Pope Francis TED talk echoes Harvard Professor John Kotter on Leadership


Humility and Leadership Go Hand in Hand

There is a fundamental truth here. Pope Francis and the Harvard Business School are aligned.

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Jerks And The Start-ups They Ruin


Perhaps the premiere of Season 4 of “Silicon Valley” twigged me to share this post. but despite the title, the HBO series only connection may be the now viral “mean jerk time algorithm.” The real “Silicon Valley jerk” has been around for decades, buried with all the other dirty laundry. Uber’s Travis Kalanick has only brought it front and center at this moment. It is something of a conundrum as some of the jerks are also the most successful. We all now know about the “bad” Steve Jobs. Oracle for years had a very bad reputation that came directly from Larry Ellison himself. Microsoft was long known as a “sweatshop” with a highly negative culture led by Steve Ballmer. Even venture capitalists themselves have caught the disease as evidenced by Reid Hoffman and the late Tom Perkins of KPCB. The best assessment I have heard is that these aggressive unrestrained corporate cultures destroy their own goals. Or better yet, the saying that “culture trumps strategy.”

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Uber’s Aggressive, Unrestrained Culture Destroys It’s Own Goals


UPDATE: KALANICK VIDEO SURFACES. Suffice to say, people are angry with Uber, and things aren’t getting better. This is actually deja vu all over again. We have seen this before in Silicon Valley. The hubris of a company founders or founders creates an ugly overly aggressive and unrestrained culture in its employees and before long things begin to unravel. This has been quietly observed at Uber for some time, and can be gleaned by its own actions as reported in the press. Now, new self-inflicted cracks are appearing. More than 200,000 people have deleted the UBER app off their smart phones in the past month. After former employee Susan Fowler Rigetti published a detailed blog post about the sexual harassment and discrimination she allegedly experienced at the company, people began deleting the ride sharing-app again. As more and more employees have spoken out about the alleged poor working conditions, Uber’s customer base is dwindling … and the company is getting desperate.

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Canadian Startup Case Study Underscores Canada’s VC Challenges


UPDATE: It is worth noting that this 2012 case study on a company in British Columbia, Mobile Data International, and its CEO Barclay Isherwood, attracted the ire of followers of Werner Erhard, prominent San Francisco New Age cult leader, with similarities to L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology.  It is a lens into New Age cults at that […]

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British Columbia: The ‘Wild West’ of Canadian Political Cash – NYTimes.com


British Columbia has no limits on political donations, leading critics to say the provincial government has become a lucrative business dominated by special interests. As the premier of British Columbia, Christy Clark is on the public payroll, pulling down a salary of 195,000 Canadian dollars in taxpayer money. But if that were not enough, she also gets an annual stipend of up to 50,000 Canadian dollars — nearly $40,000 — from her party, financed by political contributions. Personal enrichment from the handouts of wealthy donors, some of whom have paid tens of thousands of dollars to meet with her at private party fund-raisers? No conflict of interest here, according to a pair of rulings last year by the province’s conflict-of-interest commissioner — whose son works for Ms. Clark.

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Uber Is Still Trump


UPDATE: This February 3, 2016 post on Uber deserves an update. This week Uber announced that it lost $800 Million in its 3rd quarter. That’s correct, $800 Million in only three months. The Uber announcement tries to spin the loss as good news for Uber as ” increased by only 25% over the third quarter last year. An $800 Million quarterly loss is right up there in the same league with Trump lost money. I guess we need to remember Trump’s admonition that debt is good, and it’s ok to lose other people’s money. Uber’s announcement goes on to project continuing losses projected to be greater than $3 Billion next year, as Uber continues its plans for an apparent IPO for brain dead investors.

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Nortel executives continue drawing bonuses years after bankruptcy – Ottawa


    Former Nortel workers who are still owed money say they’re frustrated that executives with the now defunct company are still drawing retention bonuses, eight years after the company started bankruptcy proceedings. Source: Nortel executives continue drawing bonuses years after bankruptcy – Ottawa – CBC News

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Are LinkedIn and HR technology suppressing hiring?


Yes, LinkedIn and Human Resources screening technology are suppressing hiring. The fact is, the task of submitting a resume’ that will make it past the filtering technology used by almost all recruiters these days, requires cunning and a shrewd understanding of how to manipulate these screening apps, something akin to Search Engine Optimization (SEO). However, HR SEO techniques requires a knowledge of the app itself, which is a closely guarded secret. WRT to LinkedIn, I have growing concerns that LinkedIn no longer meets the “WIIFM” test, or “what’s in it for me?” LinkedIn seems to have aligned its business and destiny more with the needs of the recruiting industry than with my own needs, while still trying to sell me on the benefits of paid “Premium Membership.” Increasingly blog discussions on the value of LinkedIn to business users are concluding that it’s value has diminished sharply. Perhaps the recruiting industry represents a bigger potential revenue stream and LinkedIn does not wish to reveal that to its individual users. Then there is the matter of the LinkedIn merger with Microsoft, which has left many observers underwhelmed, despite pronouncements of the exceptional strategic value to both companies.

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