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Startup fever: Undone by ambition?

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

A recent spate of trouble for high-profile startups may have the business world rethinking Silicon Valley’s magic. The problems at companies like Uber and Theranos have reminded us all of what can happen when a company is seen as driven by one personality, and intense media focus thrusts inexperienced CEOs constantly into the spotlight. Meanwhile, the rapid rise and fall of young companies like troubled Zenefits receive extraordinary and very critical attention.

According to Erin Griffith, writing in Fortune, investors may begin to assess startups differently when they enter the arena with a founder-controlled board. Suspicion of “unicorn” CEOs who are always in the spotlight may grow, which will affect the types of people who go to work for them. Even the day-to-day operations of up-and-coming businesses could get a closer look from labor regulators.

The obsessions for winning at all costs and “disruption” over all things has led to great successes recently. But startups may now be searching for a different playbook from Uber, which has been tainted by charges of everything from operating in legally gray areas to fostering a culture of sexism and harassment.

The lesson: A corporate culture is a delicate thing; populating it with aggressive, hugely driven dreamers can lead to both fantastic profits and dangerous oversights. Who at your organization is keeping an eye on its ethics and values?

— Adapted from “What Uber Means for the Valley,” Erin Griffith, Fortune.

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