You Can’t Replace Vision

Former Uber COO Emil Michael tweeted a interesting response to Benchmark venture capitalist Bill Gurley’s recent Bloomberg interview claiming he had to famous force out Uber Founder and CEO, Travis Kalanick.

You can watch the full interview with Gurley here but TDLR; Uber was founded by Kalanick and Garrett Camp, famously changed the way we move with the Uber app now the ubiquitous global ride hailing app.

Gurley meanwhile built a case around why Kalanick should be booted out of the company, from accusations of bullying and harassment to the need to replace Travis with a so called ‘Professional CEO’. And that’s the point of this post: you can’t replace a founder’s vision.

Founder vision

The term "founder vision" refers to the clear and compelling long-term vision that a founder or founders have for their company or startup. It is the ability of the founder(s) to articulate a strong sense of purpose, direction, and goals for their venture, often extending far into the future.

A founder’s vision is a crucial element in the early stages of a company's development, as it serves as a guiding force and inspires stakeholders, employees, investors, and customers to align with the company's mission.

Kalanick set about changing the taxi industry and bulldozed his way through to success. And ultimately, the Uber app would never have come to fruition without this vision.

Founder passion

The vision is something that only founder’s can really set and execute on. Professional CEO types can make the business work, but they can’t deliver on the vision. It’s a clear understanding of why the company exists! not just the problem it aims to solve or the value it aims to create for its customers.

It’s not just about the company's growth and impact over a short period, often spanning several years or even decades. Again, why guys like Steve Jobs were so successful even after being forced and returning.

It’s also about passion. The founder's enthusiasm and dedication to realizing the vision, which can be infectious and attract others to join the venture. This is why guys like Elon Musk can attract the best engineers in the world to SpaceX and Tesla.

When you’re thinking about doing business, bottom lines like revenue, profit and customers matter. But what really matters is the vision and where you want to go. It’s your north star; without it, you don’t have the map to guide you.

You must have and can’t replace, vision.

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