But even when it steers through that thicket of crises, Uber will
have to come to grips with a fundamental vulnerability that is
increasingly apparent in the company’s business model. Uber may be
great at technology, but unlike the businesses of Google,
Facebook, Apple or Amazon, technology hasn’t proven to be a
significant barrier to new entrants in ride-sharing. Across the
globe, Uber has dozens of competitors, and in many markets they
have grabbed the lion’s share of the ride-sharing market.
Even if Uber fixes all of its current problems, it’s increasingly
unlikely that it can live up to the inflated expectations that
come with the nearly $70 billion valuation that have made it the
world’s most valuable startup. There are barbarians at Uber’s
gate, and it’s sorely in need of a moat.
This is why they’re pursuing self-driving technology so aggressively. There’s simply no way that Uber is worth $70 billion without some sort of exclusive technical advantage. That’s the interesting flip side to Kalanick’s ouster — I’m not sure who would want the job.