Fast Company


What the fastest-growing startup in history has revealed about Silicon Valley

Not long after Uber cofounder Travis Kalanick was forced to step down as CEO following a spate of scandals at his ride-hailing company, one influential venture capitalist tried to convince me that there were no larger lessons to be learned from the debacle. Uber, explained this VC, who would only speak on the condition of anonymity, was not emblematic of some “rottenness” at the heart of Silicon Valley. Rather, Kalanick’s tenure at Uber was simply an “anomaly.”

Across the tech industry, startup founders, employees, and investors have been grappling with how to interpret Kalanick’s stunning rise and fall. Having built Uber into a disruptive force, a global service with more than 14,000 employees in 600-plus cities, and the highest-valued startup in history (approximately $70 billion)—all in just eight years—Kalanick seemed to embody the best of the startup ethos: what a Valley-style innovator can accomplish when unleashed on a stagnant industry.

His example reverberated across Silicon Valley. Calling your company “the Uber of X,” after all, doesn’t just describe an app that instantly delivers a real-world service; “Uberizing” a

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