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SPARK OF THE CORPORATE

The headstrong, enthusiastic, and oh-so combative Travis Kalanick, CEO of Uber has ushered in a cult of so-called disruption in the taxi-hailing business. Uber was unique right from its launch and ‘uber’ special. In fact, it was so disruptive that legal amendments were named after it (uber amendments!)

What a vision it was by Travis and Co., the bunch of school mates to develop Uber and run a taxi-hailing business which surprisingly, neither owns vehicles nor employs drivers. It only enables the business by having made the technology that connects a user to a driver.The success and popularity, not to speak of the mass-acceptance of the service, are unmatched in recent history. So much so that cities have changed their laws to accommodate this Silicon Valley approach to transportation- invented, propagated, and propelled to enigmatic heights, by Uber

This is a brief peek into what made Kalanick click. Obviously, the technician and a biz-dev wizard rolled into one, could easily pass off as an investor's dream CEO proved by the runaway success of Uber – reportedly one of the most valuable privately held tech companies in the world

Education& Coding

Travis Kalanick was born on 6 August 1976, in Los Angeles (CA) to Donald, an engineer, and Bonnie, who worked in advertising for the Los Angeles Daily News. Kalanick grew up in Los Angeles's Northridge neighbourhood and pursued his Computer Engineering, Business Economics from UCLA (1994 – December 1998) – which he did not finish out of choice. He apparently learnt to code when he was only in the sixth grade, and continued on a technical track through college at UCLA until dropping out.

Scoured

Having dropped-out from college, Kalanick founded his first company, called Scour.net which, at the time, was a pioneer - a peer-to-peer service, file-sharing. But it had to be closed down in 2000 after not receiving any support from media companies besides the fact that the company was sued for about $250 million by about 30 companies for copyright infringement and other things.

Swoosh…ed

But he was not be cowed down. He co-founded Red Swoosh that he defines in his own words to be running the world's largest Data Grid with over 200,000 machines simultaneously connected, and 3 million machines worldwide participating. We deliver data at speeds equal to premium CDNs and do so without having to ever pay for bandwidth again. But, the idea could not be propagate for long as one of the principal investors wasn’t convinced of the idea any longer. Thus, Travis sold off Red Swoosh to Akamai for a reported USD$ 19 million in 2007.

Re-invention

Kalanick was made of sterner stuff - never one to give in or let go. So, he kept himself afloat with a spate of investments while all along looking to rise again from the snub he and his company got through his initial days of entrepreneurship. All along he was scheming to, primarily build a business with his know-how, one of the under-currents was seemingly to score even with people who had obstructed the idea of ‘Scour’ from flourishing.

Thus he co-founded UberCab with Garrett Camp, in the June of 2009. The app caught the imagination of people in the taxi-hailing space and went on to shake some of the long-standing practicesin the business.

But founding a business based on a cool app is one thing and keeping it upto speed in today’s rapidly transforming life-styles is quite another. However, the cool bloke that Kalanick is, there is supposedly a playbook of the company for every situation, which he as well as the associates employ with precision every time the company needs help – from launching it in a new location, or making people relate to it, or just combating the criticism (warranted as well as unwarranted) coming it’s way, to recruiting the people taking care of the business and its interests, to addressing legal issues confronting the company.

Today, the company is valued (unconfirmed) at around USD $50 billion – to mean achievement for someone who seems to ever so inadvertently rub people the wrong side.

Brash as can be..

Fame (often) and success (sometimes) come with a price. Especially, if you are one of the most headstrong, uncompromising, and very combative person like Travis Kalanick is. So, he has had his share of acknowledged unpopularity (particularly of not being sensitive to some issues raised). But, he shrugs it off saying it is all – including the blame – part and parcel of the game.

Awards & Recognition:

Top technology innovators under 35 (MIT Technology Review TR35 – 2002)
World Economic Forum - Technology Pioneer, 2005
Quotes
 If we can get you a car in five minutes, we can get you anything in five minutes. His vision for Uber.
 What we did in Chicago, what we do in all these cities, is reach out to all of our users and say, take action--email your councilperson; email the mayor. Uber riders are the most affluent, influential people in their cities. When we get to a critical mass, it becomes impossible to shut us down.
 That's part of me, that freedom fighter in me. It's like Brave­heart. Like, 'freeeeeduuuuuuuuum.'"Š"
 On Valentine's Day in Chicago, we had every driver give every woman who got in the car a rose. That is scaling romance
 Uber is efficiency with elegance on top. That's why I buy an iPhone instead of an average cell phone, why I go to a nice restaurant and pay a little bit more. It's for the experience.
 After Scour, I started a company called Red Swoosh. The idea was to take those litigants who sued us for a huge amount of money and turn them into customers with the same technology. I wanted to get them to pay me. It was a revenge business
 On digging in your heels: "Stand by your principles and be comfortable with confrontation. So few people are, so when the people with the red tape come, it becomes a negotiation
 I spent a disproportionate amount of my time in a car in L.A. I'm 35 years old. If you add up the hours spent in cars, it would be years
 Look, I'm a passionate entrepreneur. I'm like fire and brimstone sometimes. And so there are times when I'll go—I'll get too into the weeds and too into the debate, because I'm so passionate about it
 As an entrepreneur, I try to push the limits. Pedal to the metal
 He was probably America's first capitalist." On his favourite founding father, Alexander Hamilton
 My politics are: I'm a trustbuster. Very focused. And yeah, I'm pro-efficiency. I want the most economic activity at the lowest price possible. It's good for everybody; it's not red or blue
 The entrepreneur community, there's a certain kind of founder, they call them a 'lone wolf.' I probably fit in that category
 If you don’t agree with the core principles, which are the premise of that compromise, then you have to have what I call principled confrontation. And so that is the thing that we do that I think can rub some people the wrong way
 There's been so much corruption and so much cronyism in the taxi industry and so much regulatory capture, that if you ask for permission upfront for something that's already legal, you'll never get it
 The regulatory systems in place disincentive innovation. It's intense to fight the red tape
 You want supply to always be full, and you use price to basically either bring more supply on or get more supply off, or get more demand in the system or get some demand out. It’s classic Econ 101
 I have a list of the hardest, most challenging problems that our company needs to solve and I start at the top and work my way down. And I have a list of the coolest most fascinating things that we can invent and I start at the top of the list and I work my way down."On handling his company's hockey-stick growth
 We have two turbines in our company: One is engineering, and the other is operations. And so our business people are on equal footing with our engineering and technology culture. Cars are moving because of what we do, so there's an imperative to go beyond just the technology." On what sets Uber apart from competition
 It’s not Pinterest where people are putting up pins. You’re changing the way cities work, and that’s fundamentally a third rail
 We’re in a political campaign, and the candidate is Uber and the opponent is an ass-hole named Taxi

Hope viewers caught up the spark…

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