How Travis Kalanick Decided to Take On the Taxi Industry
How I Did It: Uber Disrupts Urban Transport
Travis Kalanick, the founder of Uber, talks about the day he knew his luxury cab service was a disruptive technology company that needed a fearless leader.
00:07 Travis Kalanick: It was just a very simple idea. And when it first got going, it was really a lifestyle company. It was about us and our 100 friends. You know, push a button and get around San Francisco like ballers.
00:21 Kalanick: So what it is in practice, it's an unmanned car service. You get your smart phone out, you push a button, in five minutes a car arrives and takes you wherever you want to go. At this point, we're now in nine cities around the world, two of them outside the United States: Toronto and Paris. We're going to be hitting Europe pretty hard the next several months. And Asia's going to really get going in the second part of this year.
00:41 Kalanick: Very quickly it became clear that this business was taking off, that it wasn't a limo company, but actually a technology company. And I had just had enough recharging time from my last business. So go to a board meeting, we were there to confirm that I was coming on as CEO full time. Going from sort of co-founder and incubator status to full-time CEO, that's kind of a big day. And during that board meeting, we were served with Cease and Desist's by the city of San Francisco and the state of California.
01:20 Kalanick: Essentially, they had a... It came down to a couple different issues, one of which is they wanted to take the name... Our name is Uber, started out as Uber Cab, and they thought that was more ourselves as a taxi company. So we became Uber. But also there was an industry that was very concerned, and basically upset, that we existed. And I think they just put in a call and said, "Shut these guys down."
01:48 Kalanick: Now for me, I've done a lot of disruptive businesses before, a lot of tact that sort of disrupted certain industries. I've been sued before and, in fact, I had a suit two companies ago that was a quarter of a trillion dollars by 33 of the largest media companies in the world. So when we got the Cease and Desist on this day where I was basically coming in as CEO formally, it was actually kind of like homecoming. It was like... It actually got me... For me it was like in my happy place. It's like it was meant to be.
02:20 Kalanick: And we're still operating in San Francisco and we haven't changed our business. And I think the lesson we learned from that, and that we've seen in a couple other cities, actually one other city since then, is that... It's just the principle that if you're legal and you're allowed to operate a business, which we are, that we don't have to cower to regulators or to incumbents who don't want us to exist. But at the end of the day, we're making cities better. And there's a principle to standing up for, I guess, free enterprise and building a business.
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