Uber's CEO: Innovators Shouldn't Have To Ask For Permission Or Forgiveness

from the just-innovate dept

We've written a bunch about the disruptively innovative transportation company Uber, which has been running into regulatory issues with multiple local regulators. Andy Kessler recently had a fantastic interview with Travis Kalanick, Uber's CEO, concerning the regulatory battles he keeps running into. If you've followed Uber over time, very little in the interview will be surprising. It tells of Kalanick's past -- he was sued for $250 billion at one point for running Scour.com, an early file sharing site -- but also of his belief that these regulations are protectionism for legacy industries.

One bit that struck me however, was his response to Kessler posing an expected question concerning Uber's penchant for launching first and dealing with the regulatory fallout later (well, and reaping the publicity rewards of complaining about being stifled by regulations):
When I suggest to Mr. Kalanick that Uber, in the fine startup tradition, was using the "don't ask for permission, beg for forgiveness" approach, he interrupts the question halfway through. "We don't have to beg for forgiveness because we are legal," he says. "But there's been so much corruption and so much cronyism in the taxi industry and so much regulatory capture that if you ask for permission upfront for something that's already legal, you'll never get it. There's no upside to them."
I think this is actually pretty important. There's been plenty of talk about the importance of permissionless innovation and permissionless creativity. That is very important. But, somehow, we rarely talk about the flipside, which is that those engaged in creating wonderful and innovative things also should be proud of what they're doing, rather than feeling like they need to ask forgiveness for upsetting the apple cart. Disruption is a messy business, but in the end it creates tremendous benefits for nearly everyone (except those who relied on the old way, and refused to change). It's great to see a company like Uber leading the way.

Filed Under: forgiveness, innovation, permission, travis kalanick
Companies: uber


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  1. icon
    Ninja (profile), 25 Feb 2013 @ 3:25am

    The established power is always hard to crack regardless of where it is (economical, political, territorial etc). Sometimes you'll see violent conflicts to break down those powers and allow innovation. Other times they'll simply break under the weight of their own incompetency to evolve with times. This is but a symptom of a larger problem with our very Governments. It was fairly hard to break the power of the old aristocracy and form the current Governments. Then these fruits of such innovation have become old, enshrined in the power and they forgot their origins, they let themselves be corrupted.

    I'm not sure how things will develop but it's quite clear that a minority has captured each and every sector of our current society. And thus we've reached a barrier, we've become stagnant or at least we (and I mean we generically speaking) are evolving much slower than our potential.

    How can it be fixed?

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