Bumps that did not become roadblocks for these companies in 2014
Closer home, fortunately the year did not see companies face crises of this nature or magnitude; but the road wasn’t bump-free either.
The same week that the high court banned Uber in Delhi, they imposed another embargo, owning the tech news cycle that week. Chinese mobile handset maker Xiaomi was banned from selling its handsets after it was accused of patent infringement by Ericsson, whose technology Xiaomi handsets run on. As a part of the ban, Flipkart, with which the Chinese company has an exclusive sales arrangement, was also disallowed from selling the handsets. However, there has been some relief. The company has been allowed to sell handsets temporarily. Xiaomi has also been asked to deposit Rs 100 for every device it has sold in India till February 3 last year.
Xiaomi founder Lei Jun
App-based taxi company Uber may enjoy a whopping valuation of $40 billion, but with it come the woes. The company ran into central bank headwinds mid-way through the year after other cab operators complained to the Reserve Bank of India that Uber’s payment mechanism was circumventing the mandatory two-step card verification process. After much back and forth, Uber’s fixed the problem and introduced mobile wallets.
However, there’s more trouble since. One of Uber’s drivers was accused of raping a female passenger in Delhi last month. In the aftermath, Uber was banned in the capital. While the ban has been lifted, Uber’s hardly pleased with being classified as a radio taxi company and having to comply with regulations applicable therewith.
Uber founder Travis Kalanick Flipkart’s big billion day fail
The online portal may have raised a billion dollars in funding this year, but failed to deliver on the promise of “big billion day sale”. Shoppers encountered several technical glitches and price anomalies as they tried to navigate the maze of offers on the sale day. The outcry was immediate. Social media was flooded with complaints and jokes about this epic failure. But, founders Sachin and Binny Bansal were quick to apologise, sending out a long email to users. The speed at which they handled the incident made it a textbook case of crisis management.
Flipkart co-founder Binny Bansal
SpiceJet fails to take off
After the spate of aviation tragedies emerging out of Malaysia last year, many deemed 2014 the worst year for the sector. Sadly, there was a rub-off effect on the Indian skies too. Kalanithi Maran-promoted SpiceJet made headlines through 2014 and was finally left stranded on the runway temporarily in December. Given the airline’s ailing financial health, oil companies refused to provide oil on credit to SpiceJet, leaving operations disrupted. Former promoter and director, Ajay Singh, has since stepped in. Reportedly, a cash infusion to the tune of Rs 1,200 crore is being planned. This dual booster is expected to turn the fortunes of the airline around. Hopefully.
Ajay Singh, co-founder of SpiceJet
Satya Nadella’s goof up
Big bosses shooting off their mouths can be the worst nightmare for their PR. The Microsoft CEO, India-born Nadella, served up his PR team one such nasty situation last year when at a conference — with primarily female engineers in attendance — Nadella said that women shouldn’t ask for a raise and trust in karma. This karmic gaffe led to a furore, with Nadella’s interviewer, Maria Klawe, president, Harvey Mudd College, disagreeing with him on the spot. Of course, there was social media backlash. Nadella apologised later for his thoughtless comments. The positive outcome has been that the conversation on fair pay has opened up a bit more.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella