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滴滴遭遇危机,Uber近况如何?

Tim J. Smith 2018年08月28日

Uber在三个关键领域进行了改革。

图片来源:视觉中国

达拉·科斯罗萨西离开艾派迪公司,接替特拉维斯·卡拉尼克成为Uber的首席执行官后,他为Uber的一系列可能致命的商业失误承担了责任,保持了公司的高速增长,并且积极准备推动公司上市。当时的Uber已经成了政府、竞争对手、员工和客户的众矢之的,很多人都在质疑它的道德水平。

在多数人看来,科斯罗萨西这次跳槽无异于职业上的自杀。但科斯罗萨西却向我们证明,道德的勇气和战略的权衡确实能推动企业绩效的提高。在这个过程中,他打破了企业的惯例,在三个关键领域进行了改革。

尊重监管机构

在这方面,最典型的一个例子是他与伦敦政府打交道的经历。2017年9月,也就是在他任职CEO后不久,伦敦市政府吊销了Uber的营业执照,理由是该公司工作条件不达标,且对一起性侵案件隐瞒不报。到2018年6月,科斯罗萨西终于让法庭相信,Uber正在翻开崭新的一页,使法庭批准Uber继续在伦敦运营18个月,以观后效。

伦敦交通部门主管授予执照的官员似乎对Uber的新策略颇为满意,他在听证会上表示:“如果一个运营商请求的是许可,而不是请求原谅,那么在申领证照的过程中,肯定效果会更好。”

另一个例子,是他对公司的UberPOP服务的立场变化。UberPOP是该公司在欧洲推出的一档廉价网络叫车服务,类似于美国的UberX。前几年,包括西班牙、德国在内的欧洲各国禁止了UberPOP,理由是它违规使用了不专业的司机。

Uber没有跟这些国家的监管机构硬刚,而是采取了更加顺从的立场,不再呼吁在德国恢复UberPOP服务,而是计划在巴塞罗纳推出一项新的UberX服务,该服务的司机均有合法授权。Uber公司的南欧地区负责人表示,公司已经在一篇博客文章中承认了此前的错误。

这位负责人写道:“我们正在改变我们做生意的模式,将诚实作为每个决策的核心,努力获得合作城市的信任。”

即便是在网民讨论得火热的飞行汽车问题上,科斯罗萨西也表示,Uber“将按照规则来”。

收编竞争对手

面对行业内的竞争对手,Uber也采取了一种非对抗性的方式。谷歌母公司曾状告Uber窃取了其子公司Waymo研发的自动驾驶技术,2018年2月,Uber与Alphabet就此案达成和解。Uber表示将不会使用Waymo的自动驾驶技术,并向Alphbet赠予了Uber公司0.34%的股权。Uber还对此事演变到如此地步表示了遗憾。这起案件如此收场,是非常了不起的,在公司面临很多其他复杂问题的情况下,此案的成功和解为Uber平息了很多负面报道和干扰。

Uber在海外市场也同样采取了降低对抗的策略。比如该公司战略性地从东南亚和俄罗斯撤出,以换取竞争对手Grab和Yandex的股权。与此同时,Uber继续在巴西和印度展开竞争。这种战略决策表明,Uber不再仅仅关注增长和垄断全世界,而是终于开始关注利润问题了。

文化变革

此外,Uber还发生了其他一些变化,但在硅谷以外,这些变化就不那么引人关注了,不过它们对建设一家长久发展的公司却是至关重要的。比如Uber一度也曾盛行硅谷臭名昭著的“男程序员”文化,公司往往对性骚扰和种族歧视视若罔闻,工作中盛行“唯结果论”。结果到2017年3月,Uber的全球员工只有36%是女性。而在技术团队中,更是仅有15%是女性。

通过在艾派迪公司的工作经历,科斯罗萨西深知多元化对科技公司的重要性。他开始积极征询Uber员工的意见建议,以改革公司的内部文化。就此,公司先后成立了20多个员工组织,提交了1200余条意见建议,投了22000多张票。在此基础上,他重新编写了一套企业的文化规范。现在,科斯罗萨西不再鼓励“冲刺式”发展,而是强调“我们要做正确的事情”,“鼓励差异”,“创意高于等级”。从语言入手,改变企业的文化规范,标志着Uber向着改革自身文化迈出了积极的一步。

在“文化革命”的同时,科斯罗萨西还对高管团队进行了“大清洗”。去年,Uber的原人力总监、产品总监和其他几个高管相继离职。卡拉尼克时代遗留的16名高管中,目前只有7位仍然留在公司。

下一步?

科斯罗萨西已经带领Uber打开了局面,但他的改革仍未完成,科技界离彻底消灭性别歧视、种族歧视依然任重道远,Uber与监管机构的龃龉也没有完全解决。本月初,纽约市投票通过一项决定,一年内将暂停颁发新的网络叫车服务执照,在此期间,纽约市有关部门将对交通拥堵问题进行研究。与此同时,Uber也必须应对竞争局面的快速变化,想办法在无人驾驶技术、电动自行车和无人飞行器的围剿中杀出一条生路。

我们对科斯罗萨西还是应该报有希望的。2015年2月,他还是艾派迪公司CEO时,就曾在领英上写过这样一段话:“只要勇于承担巨大风险,再有一支你信任且也信任你的团队,即便是方寸之局,也能赢得长久胜利。” (财富中文网)

本文作者Tim J. Smith是Wiglaf Pricing公司CEO、德保罗大学市场营销学客座教授,也是《Pricing Done Right》一书的作者。

译者:朴成奎

When Dara Khosrowshahi left Expedia to take over for Travis Kalanick as CEO of Uber, he assumed responsibility for resolving a series of potentially fatal business missteps, maintaining high growth, and preparing the company to go public. Uber was in the crosshairs of governments, competitors, employees, and customers, with many questioning its morals.

For most, this would have been career suicide. For Khosrowshahi, it has been an opportunity to demonstrate that moral courage and strategic tradeoffs can drive improved performance. In doing so, he broke past corporate norms and brought reform in three key areas.

Respecting regulators

Khosrowshahi’s approach to addressing government challenges is typified with his handling of London. In September 2017, shortly after Khosrowshahi assumed the helm, London canceled Uber’s operating license, citing inadequate working conditions and failures to report sexual assault. By June 2018, Khosrowshahi had provisionally convinced the courts that Uber was turning over a new leaf, winning a conditional license to continue operating for 18 months.

The director of licensing for London’s transportation agency seemed pleased with Uber’s new tack, saying during the hearing that the licensing process “certainly works better when an operator is asking permission rather than seeking forgiveness.”

Another instance of the new CEO’s change in tack is the company’s changed stance on UberPOP, essentially a low-cost ride-hailing option in Europe similar to UberX in the U.S. Over the last few years, European countries like Spain and Germany banned UberPOP, arguing that it illegally used non-professional drivers.

Now Uber has taken a more compliant position, dropping its appeal to restore UberPOP service in Germany and planning to initiate a new UberX service in Barcelona with licensed drivers. Uber’s director for Southwest Europe acknowledged the company’s previous mistakes in a blog post accompanying the latter announcement.

“We are changing the way we do business,” he wrote, “putting integrity at the core of every decision we make and working hard to earn the trust of the cities in which we operate.”

Even when it comes to flying cars, Khosrowshahi has declared Uber will “play by the rules.”

Co-opting competitors

Uber has taken a similarly non-combative approach with its industry cohorts. In February 2018, Uber settled a lawsuit with Alphabet, Google’s parent company, over allegations that Uber had stolen autonomous vehicle technology developed by Waymo, another Alphabet subsidiary. Uber pledged not to use Waymo’s autonomous vehicle technology, gave Alphabet a 0.34% equity stake in Uber, and expressed regrets over how the situation was handled. Settling the suit was a great move, as it quelled bad press and distraction at a time when many other issues need to be addressed at the company.

Such de-escalation is also visible in Uber’s approach to competitors in foreign markets. The company strategically retreated from Southeast Asia and Russia in exchange for equity stakes in competitors Grab and Yandex, respectively. Uber continues to compete in Brazil and India, but this kind of a strategic decision-making demonstrates that Uber is no longer focused solely on growth and world domination. It may even be finally focused on profits.

etting the house in order

Other changes may be less noticeable outside of Silicon Valley, but are nonetheless significant in creating a company that will endure. Uber suffered from Silicon Valley’s immoral “brogrammer” culture, where a blind eye was often turned to sexual harassment and racial discrimination, and arrogance and winning at all costs ruled. The inattention to creating an inclusive workplace resulted in only 36% of Uber’s worldwide employees being female as of March 2017. In addition, only 15% of its technical team were women.

Khosrowshahi was well aware of the challenges of diversity in technology from his time at Expedia. He started to fix the internal culture by soliciting feedback from Uber employees. Two dozen employee focus groups, 1,200 submitted ideas, and 22,000 votes later, he scripted a new set of cultural norms. Now, instead of encouraging stepping on toes, Uber has adopted mantras such as “We do the right thing. Period,” “We celebrate differences,” and “We value ideas over hierarchy.” Changing the language of cultural norms is a positive step toward changing Uber’s culture itself.

Along with cultural change, Khosrowshahi has also cleansed the executive ranks. The chief of human resources, chief product officer, and several others departed in the last year. Overall, of the 16 executives running Uber when Kalanick left, only seven remain at the company.

What’s next

Khosrowshahi has had an auspicious start at Uber, but his reformation is incomplete. The goal of a level playing field for women and minorities in technology remains distant. Uber’s challenges with regulators are not fully resolved; earlier this month, New York City voted to freeze the distribution of new ride-hailing vehicle licenses for one year while it studies traffic congestion. And Uber must address the fast-moving competitive frontier in transportation, from autonomous vehicles to electric bikes and to autonomous flying machines.

We can take hope in Khosrowshahi’s own words. In February 2015, while he was still head of Expedia, Khosrowshahi wrote on LinkedIn, “Taking big risks combined with having a team you believe in and that believes just as much in you as a leader make for long-term wins even in a game of inches.”

Tim J. Smith is the founder and CEO of Wiglaf Pricing and an adjunct professor of Marketing at DePaul University, and the author of Pricing Done Right.

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