A conciliator and political influencer, a product visionary or an operations guru?

Picking the right person to run the leaderless Uber depends on what sort of business you think it is — and what sort it has the potential to become.

Repairing the damage from this year’s upheavals, including a sexual harassment scandal, barely scratches the surface. The bigger job lies in capturing a future that Uber has hardly even begun to define. There is a tendency to see Uber as a leader in a maturing business. According to this view, after huge growth — and equally vast subsidies to lure riders — competition in ride-hailing is moving into a more stable period. Network effects and economies of scale have taken over. If so, then a consolidation phase may already have set in. Uber’s decision last year to cede its foothold in China to local competitor Didi Chuxing sounded like the starting gun. That was followed last month by the news that it was folding its hand in Russia, trading its position there for a minority stake in market leader Yandex. The market maturity thesis leads to the conclusion that Uber is well on the way to becoming an entrenched monopoly in the markets where it has refocused. That would call, in a CEO, for...

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