Travis Kalanick’s recent string of run-ins with reality have put me to thinking, as I occasionally do, about how weird it is that we ignore empathy when evaluating intelligence. While anyone who has been paying attention can tell you that Kalanick’s apologies are insincere, the hurt and confused demeanour isn’t. He’s genuinely at a loss, because he’s getting in trouble for the exact behavior that has caused people to throw money at him. Kalanick may be the (punchable) face of the problem at the moment, but the fact that VCs are clamoring to get in on a company that’s hemorrhaging precisely because of its cavalier attitude towards its employees, the law, and the world at large constitutes a problem on a much larger scale.
We can quibble about lionizing sociopaths having been appropriate in the past, but for people trying to make their money off the opportunities presented by the connected world, not being sympathetic to someone else’s perspective is basically wanting to have your cake and eat it too, which I think is something that everyone can agree is a sign of limited intelligence.