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One More Lesson From the Downfall of Kalanick

One of the lessons some in the media have been quick to draw from the downfall of Travis Kalanick is the peril of unchecked power bestowed on startup founders. And, thus, they prescribe solutions like curbing founder voting rights and stepped up board involvement (which I have long advocated for a number of reasons.) 

But the argument that absolute power corrupts ignores the fact that the tech industry has been full of founders with extraordinary power from Bill Gates to Larry Page to Mark Zuckerberg. Kalanick’s real problem wasn’t power; it was that he never learned how to use it.

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But if he had actually been willing to learn over the past two years—and not just talk about it over the last two weeks—I believe Kalanick could have solved these problems. He could have learned to check his own behavior as well. History tells us that Kalanick didn’t have to be a saint to save his job. He just needed to be a student.

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Terrence Yang, Rahul Harkawat and 6 others commented on this article.
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When Kalanick disagrees with you he doesn’t listen—he lectures, whether on the phone or through a battery of texts.