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
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 25 Feb 2013 @ 4:04am

    If Uber had timidly asked if the legacy players would let them on the playground, we'd be saying Uber who??

    The huge splash they have made time and time again in the media, followed by politicians making claims that are just completely detached from reality and show the public the emperor is naked and is deep in the pocket of the legacy players.

    The legacy players are completely terrified of Uber, and I like it. They might need to look at updating their model to appeal to people who prefer the Uber model, rather than forcing the world to adapt to how it was done 50 years ago... there is a couple other industries that could benefit from this... the acronyms escape me for the moment.

    Giving consumers a real choice is always a good thing, look at what the cable co did in the land of Google Fiber... much faster speeds, much lower prices... but only in that market because they fear the loss of the market.
    Once people taste the freedom that fiber can give they will be unable to claim cord cutters aren't real.
    I just wish more places would ask/beg/bribe Google to come and wire the neighborhood.

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