New CEO Dara Khosrowshahi introduced a new set of cultural values meant to strike a softer tone for the 8-year-old company.
Dara Khosrowshahi has spent the past two months learning the ins and outs of Uber, the embattled ride-hailing company where he took over as chief executive in August. Now begins the hard work of repairing Uber’s negative image.
On Tuesday, Khosrowshahi — who left the CEO post at Bellevue-based Expedia to head Uber — introduced a new set of cultural values for the company, replacing a list previously conceived by Travis Kalanick, the former chief executive who in June was pushed out of the startup he had helped to create.
Introduced to employees at an all-hands staff meeting in San Francisco, the list is meant to strike a softer tone for the 8-year-old company, which has long been seen as hard-edged and combative. It includes warmer, fuzzier goals like perseverance and celebrating differences. Another entry reads: “We do the right thing. Period.”
The list also represents something of a repudiation of the culture created under Kalanick. Uber has long held a reputation for a willingness to fight any and everyone, from competitors like Lyft to lawmakers seeking stronger oversight of the company. That aggressiveness led to difficulties in cities like London, where Khosrowshahi is scrambling to keep the service alive.
“It’s that forward-leaning, fearless approach that has underpinned much of Uber’s success and has attracted many employees, including me, to the company,” Khosrowshahi said in a LinkedIn post. “But it’s also clear that the culture and approach that got Uber where it is today is not what will get us to the next level.”
Uber’s cultural baggage caught up to it this year after Susan Fowler, a former employee, penned a lengthy blog post detailing a history of sexual harassment by a superior and complaints to human resources that had fallen on deaf ears. Fowler’s post was the first in a series of events, including the discovery of a program to deceive law enforcement called Greyball, that eventually led to investors pushing Kalanick to step down.
Khosrowshahi has spent much of his tenure so far on an apology tour, trying to improve relations with the millions of people who drive for the company. He is also working to improve relations with the hundreds of cities Uber operates in around the world.
“As we move from an era of growth at all costs to one of responsible growth, our culture needs to evolve,” he said.