Sunday, March 10

GEEKSTA PARADISE: The Ballers of Uber + GitHub

Part of the Lean Startup conference track.

His first startup in late 90s was a filesharing company that was sued globally for $250 billion until he shut it down (pre-Napster). Uber launches in cities where their business model is legal, expecting they’ll meet resistance. The regulatory playbook is predictable that cities/taxi industry use to try keep them out. It is mostly the taxi industry lobbying cities to pass new laws to regulate them out of operating there. Regulating technology is a threat to shut down innovation. Uber won’t meet them halfway to get a compromised offering into the city. They’d rather pull out and have users lobby city officials on their behalf.
As a fast-growing company, organizational scale is tougher than technology scale (go from 200 to 800 employees). Their first app barely worked and drivers’ phones died after 4 hrs of use. When growing a small company, you need to go from lean to muscular. Keep a lean culture but know when to bulk up offerings/services.
Best quote = “You need to push your business/strategy/services to the point where you get uncomfortable, otherwise you aren’t innovating.” In other words, if you aren’t nervous about a new strategy then you should reevaluate your plans. Discomfort Ideas.
Uber clones (Sidecar, Lyft in SF) are fast followers just recreating the Uber biz model at a local level. They forced Uber to innovate and bring two services to market = High end black car (existing model) and low end price offer/lesser quality (to compete).
GitHub is an extremely decentralized company lacking a lot of the structure you would expect. No departments, no managers (“we replaced manager positions with technology/tools”), no work hours or location expectations.
Their approach to solving problems is what they call First Principles. Basically asking “what’s the problem?” and not allowing a standard solution. Mental reset to solve it in an interesting way. For example, as they grew staff, many started wanting an office. So instead of just moving into an office, they asked “Why do we need an office?” The reason was they were getting kicked out of cafes because too many employees were showing up and spending all day there without buying much. So they decided to treat their office space like a cafe = communal spaces, no set seating chart or hours, barista coffee machine.

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