Book review | Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber by Mike Isaac
If Uber is one of the most influential companies of all time, then this book is one of the most influential works of business journalism in a while. That’s saying something, because this millenium of business and technology, particularly the Silicon Valley giants, have brought with them some well-told astonishing tales of corporate ambition and prowess.
New York Times technology reporter Mike Isaac tells an incredibly important story about a company that is a household name today. Ride-hailing firm Uber is important for many reasons. Its core business, as fundamental as transport - as broken as it gets in big cities - is only one reason. Uber heralded the era of seemingly forever loss-making Silicon Valley startups, a trend which is also seen in the consumer internet markets such as India, Indonesia and China.
The “Uber of XYZ” became a part of pitch decks that startups presented to investors. Uber’s breakneck pace of growth, its scant regard for regulation, dramatic fights with all stakeholders putting soap operas to shame, and the creation of the gig economy are a part of modern technology lore.
Co-founder and CEO (until mid 2017) Travis Kalanick built Uber into a juggernaut, raising truck loads of venture capital from blue chip investors in every part of the globe, expanding to multiple countries double-quick, and driven by “growth at all costs”, another phrase synonymous with startups everywhere in the past decade. The cost of that growth becomes clear later on.
Isaac’s story is more a story of Kalanick, and less of ...
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