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Uber co-founder: We’ve been too obsessed with growth

Garrett Camp, Uber’s largely MIA co-founder, says the company neglected parts of its culture.

New York Uber Drivers Protest Rate Cuts Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

When Garrett Camp first proposed the idea for an on-demand black-car service in late 2008 — so the story goes — it’s unlikely that he could have predicted the meteoric rise of Uber, or that the very thing that helped it grow would also practically undo it close to 10 years later.

But Uber has come up against the limits of the grow-at-all-costs attitude that Camp’s co-founder Travis Kalanick embodied and embedded in the fabric of the company, and which recently led to his temporary leave of absence.

Camp, who doesn’t play a big role in the day to day of running Uber, finally surfaced as the company purports to be embarking on its next chapter to say: We screwed up because we didn’t listen.

“In a highly competitive market it is easy to become obsessed with growth, instead of taking the time to ensure you’re on the right path,” Camp wrote in a Medium post. “Now is that time ... to pause for a moment and think about what really matters here: providing 65 million riders transportation when they need it, giving 2 million drivers flexible work options, and creating a company culture we are proud of.”

Camp’s reemergence is significant in the wake of Kalanick’s absence and the current jockeying for leadership that’s taking place at the troubled startup. There has been a public relations push as well as an actual reworking of the company culture. It’s not always easy to see which is which.

Camp’s post refers to some of the sweeping changes at Uber, including adding more human resources representatives, along with forming a new leadership team and recruiting new executives.

Uber has already hired Apple marketing executive Bozoma Saint John as its chief brand officer — charged with changing the company’s narrative — and noted Harvard academic Frances Frei to help restructure the company. The company is also in the midst of hiring a COO, to be the company’s second-in-command and a partner to Kalanick if he returns.

“I believe that our business can have 10x the impact it has today  —  once we have additional leadership and training in place, and evolve our culture to be more inclusive and respectful,” Camp continued. “We should still push hard for what we believe in, and be much more collaborative going forward.”

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