- REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Newly disclosed text messages from former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick reveal all kinds of insights into his mind. Among them: How he feels about firing people.
Kalanick is an advocate of doing it “fast.” But not in every case.
This insight comes from a cache of 400 text messages released to the public thanks to the lawsuit between Uber and Waymo, the self-driving car company spun off from Google’s parent company Alphabet. In one set of the texts, Kalanick describes his principles for firing someone (emphasis ours):
8/12/2016: Kalanick: Three principles:
8/12/2016: Kalanick: 1) don’t tell anyone about the deal before it happens ESPECIALLY someone you’re about to fire
8/12/2016: Kalanick: 2) firing fast is a cultural imperative you don’t want to break except in the most extreme situations.
8/12/2016: 3) get creative
Kalanick sent the messages to former Waymo engineer Anthony Levandowski, who is at the center of the Uber-Waymo lawsuit. After Levandowski left Waymo, he founded a self-driving truck company called Otto, which was quickly acquired by Uber. Waymo is suing Uber claiming that Levandowski stole Waymo’s trade secrets and used them to help Uber build self-driving cars.
We don’t know from the conversation string who was going to get fired or if it was someone related to Uber’s organization or Otto’s.
News did break later that same month of one high-profile parting when Uber confirmed that board member David Drummond, a senior vice president at Alphabet, had resigned. However, if this conversation was about Drummond, only Kalanick and Levandowski can say.
News of Drummond’s departure came hours after news broke that Uber had been barring him from its board meetings for about a year, thanks to the increasing tensions between Alphabet and Uber over self-driving car technology.
By April, 2017, Waymo was suing Uber.