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
    Suzanne Lainson (profile), 26 Feb 2013 @ 2:23pm

    The future of disruptive technology

    I like to speculate about a business environment where new technologies and new forms of manufacture and distribution come out so rapidly and are copied so quickly that the whole idea of putting together huge companies goes out the window. And if there is no opportunity to make a killing with an IPO, that changes the dynamics of the entire VC and financial industries.

    I'd like to see small projects and small organizational groups become the norm, where as much as possible every consumer is his own source for his needs. And when he can't do it in his own house, what he needs can be acquired locally or online without any middlemen taking a cut. I'd like to see property/business ownership flattened as much as possible. While some people may possess more expertise, training, and/or talent than others, if all of that is collectively shared, then whatever one person can do well benefits everyone and nearly instantaneously.

    The Internet is allowing us the opportunity to replace some of the organizational benefits that once were held in-house in large organizations. But you still have companies such Facebook, Google, Amazon, and the like who want to amass that big data in-house rather than simply putting out in the public domain. Of course, as that data is accumulated, and if it is available for everyone to see, we have privacy and security issues which are being bigger problems by the day.

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