One thing I have noticed in startups is if things start to spin out of control, they tend to stay out of control. Like a top that gets off kilter, the startup rarely seems to recover. It will be interesting to see if Uber can. They have the money, the scale and the incentive to right the ship. At earlier stages, it’s really really hard.
I am not saying that it is only bad things that cause startups to spin out of control. Sometimes it is just managing people. Normal everyday things. Sometimes it’s external forces beyond control that cause a wave to hit the startup boat. For example, if you were selling into banks or insurance companies in 2008, you might have had an unexpected wave hit your boat.
Managing through that and getting the company righted in a hurry is key survival. I think that’s the point. It is all about survival to the next round. Every startup goes through a valley of death experience. Every startup gets jostled around. The resilient ones keep the top spinning.