Matt Allen
November 2016.

Do 'disruptive' businesses like Uber cause more harm than good?

1 answer

Yes and no. Every business action has an equal and opposite reaction, and we live in a time where people are so consumed by the pursuit of money that they forget the trigger actions of their ideas – which often arrive with good intentions. That can create a lot of problems. So, in San Francisco, where they’re experiencing a tech boom, house prices are spiraling out of control because of the success of the app developers working there. Now people are throwing rocks at the Google bus.

What we’ve created, unintentionally, is a winner-takes-all economy. If you’re the person that’s developed an app that everyone wants, you and your company can reap financial benefits and these rewards are sometimes wildly disproportionate to the innovations unleashed. These people make up five to ten per cent of the population in an area such as San Francisco and while they’re having the time of their lives, the other 90% don’t feel part of the new economy. There hasn’t been nearly enough reckoning in terms of how we’re building our companies, and organising our societies, so that more and more people can get a share in this remarkable revolution.

Instead, what we have all over are painful, awkward, embarrassing, and troubling symptoms of the bigger underlying condition, which is this winner-takes-all logic of innovation. Still, there are fresh ideas in play. One person who understands this problem is Hamdi Ulukaya, owner of Chobani, the bestselling yoghurt in America. This year he announced he would be giving his employees a 10% stake in the company should Chobani go public, so everybody can share in the wealth. At the time, his company was valued between $3 billion and $5 billion. [Editor’s note: it was reported that the average employee payout would be $150,000.] Ulukaya is an amazing guy who’s wrestling these issues head on.

Bill Taylor is the author of Simply Brilliant: How Great Organizations Do Ordinary Things In Extraordinary Ways