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. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    out_of_the_blue, 25 Feb 2013 @ 6:13am

    As that great innovator Bernie Madoff said:

    "Innovators Shouldn't Have To Ask For Permission Or Forgiveness" -- and he added, "the only problem is getting control of the regulators so they look the other way".

    Look, no one can argue with a truism, BUT now that you inform this guy ran "an early file sharing site", it explains why you promote him and his pirate philosophy so much. You're always promoting those who after quick and unearned riches. Okay, he may have mildly reformed since pirating, but he's not letting go of the loot.

    However, he's simply saying that The Rich are entrenched and have an effective monopoly, just as I say in various phrasing. My conclusion is that only way to fight The Rich is by class war -- they start and profit from it, while everyone else at most only gets them off our back -- so we need societal attitude that sees The Rich as thieves and keep them from getting too much money and power. It's as American an idea as was kicking out the inbred inherited entrenched tyrants back in 1776.

    The way to do it in this case is with effective regulation, using the moral basis that the already Rich should have to pay increasingly steep fees to stay in (besides steeply progressive income taxes -- and BTW, a key point is the difference between wages and income, the latter being unearned: if only there were an economist here who could and would explain that), anyway, new and small companies should be heavily favored in the regulation of this or any other biz.

    BUT YET AGAIN, Mike complains but doesn't have anything to propose.

    Economic policy is QUITE easy if you keep in mind that The Rich are thieves and bullies. Suppress the entrenched interests and everyone else is freer.

    Take a loopy tour of Techdirt.com! You always end up at same place!
    Where arrogance meets ignorance to discuss what they'll do with someone else's 100 million dollar movie.

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