Uber CEO Travis Kalanick resigned this week after a group of investors pressured him to step down. Kalanick co-founded Uber in 2009 and it is widely observed that the company and its aggressive culture were formed in his image. That, it turns out, was both a good and a bad thing.
On the positive side, under Kalanick's aggressive leadership Uber rapidly became one of the most highly-valued private companies in the world, with a valuation just under $70 billion. He deserves a lot of credit for that.
The company disrupted its industry by offering those of us who relied on taxicabs for years an alternative that is easier, less expensive, and cooler. Pushing a button on our smartphones is so much more convenient than hailing a taxicab and paying cash that most of us haven't braved the elements and crowded streets to hail a taxicab since becoming hooked on Uber.
On the negative side, a culture that tolerated widespread sexual harassment, mistreated employees, and ran roughshod over regulatory requirements grew in parallel with the tremendous economic growth of the company. That is why Mr. Kalanick's legacy is sadly and avoidably mixed.
His downfall demonstrates the way in which the very qualities that enable an executive to achieve great success have a shadow side and can become a detriment if not counterbalanced by other qualities.