Organisational learnings and life learnings in a tough kind of a year
This week marked my first year at Uber. Anyone who remotely follows Uber, knows that this year was a hard one for us. So for someone who put their faith in Uber in this very publicly messy year, how did it feel to be in the inside? How did it feel to process and overcome these issues in front of a team? When I think of my year, I think of it in four different ways.
Urban anthropology may not be top of mind for most people (or most anthropologists for that matter), but I’m here to argue it is the key to creating livable cities for people. In fact, applying this concept to the management and design of our urban environments could be the single most important thing to ensure the livability of our urban future. This may sound outlandish, but I assure you it’s not so radical as it seems. Believe it or not, the methods used by urban anthropologists are surprisingly similar to a far more common staple of the design world: user experience research and design.
In the world of tech and product design, user experience (UX) is key. You basically can’t design something efficient for humans without it. From your favorite app to your web browser, that chair you’re sitting on to an egg beater, nearly everything goes through some kind of user testing before it’s ready for launch. Whether that’s by playtesters ahead of a video game release, or focus groups giving feedback on product messaging, vast amounts of research is being conducted in order to create the best product for “users” of all sorts.
One of the best kinds of NewCos are those that are “hindsight obvious” — at first you don’t get what the big deal is, but after you spend a bit of time grokking the company’s story, it’s undeniable how much better their version of the world is than that which came before.
Such is the case with Typeform, a four-year old startup I came across during NewCo Barcelona last Fall (NewCo Barcelona is coming up again next week). TypeForm’s co-founder and joint CEO David Okuniev spoke at the NewCoBCN kickoff event, and later came to San Francisco to visit our offices. His is a compelling NewCo narrative, the story of a bootstrapped company formed to scratch its founders’ itch, now scaling past 10,000 paying customers — all on the cloud-based SaaS model much beloved by Valley insiders. This narrative is so common in the Valley that what initially struck me about Typeform wasn’t its business model, it was its location. The company feels like a typical San Francisco Internet startup, but when you dig in, it’s unique.