Book Review of Wild Ride


(Brandon Bhangoo) #1

The Author Adam Lashinsky published an interesting book, a review of what is happening in Uber and who is Travis Kalanick. This inciteful work offers a lot of insights into how Uber operates and what it is all about. In this global village of transportation, Uber is a major impact on many countries, in fact, Uber has influenced entire nations and states, so knowing what is happening in Uber will help to understand what and how these global changes are all about.

The Outer Story

Uber's phenomenal rise and private funding sources are all secondary to the driving force behind Uber, the man that vision it and pushed it forward; Travis Kalanick. This amazing personality, for good or for worse, created a mobile platform that utilized the world's most abundant strategic resource with the world's most abundant transportation solution; the human and his car. This vision is now incorporated in over 700 cities and employs under independent contracts over 2 million drivers!

This makes the Uber impact more than just finance and technology; it makes it a significant ethical issue as well.

Travis Kalanick allowed Lashinsky to interview him and be exposed to the inner workings of Uber, perhaps as part of the global marketing plan, providing probable transparency, but not to all the inner workings, just enough to whet the appetites of the readers.

One of the major findings, which is not unusual in many starts ups is the issue of perception. During 2015, Uber had already become a major global force, yet behind this global image sat a slightly disorganized group of venture capitalists and their employees wining it through experience. They were making decisions not out of experienced calculations but out of envisioned gambits and sometimes just wild leaps of faith.

The Inner story

This part of the book looked at how Uber marketed itself to investors, and how they were cornered into joining the team. Travis used every possible detail to persuade investors in the probability of success, such as including graphs and data representing how customers would leave a service, what is termed "churn rate," and showing it on a global reach, including data from Uber sties from around the world.

This might seem an improbable key factor for investors to consider, but when bombarding investors with facts and figures the more, you usually present proves that the company is much more serious in how it visions the future and has invested heavily in organizing its developmental and marketing process.

With all of this, what surprised everyone and is, in fact, a major feat and must be held up for the benefit of Travis is the fact that Uber managed to raise $17 billion in private market equity. This interesting away of averting the need for public transparency required when going for an IPO only recently caught up with Travis, as he was ousted from the top executive position, remaining on the board but without the strength of leading the decision-making process. This is partially due to the way Travis directed the company is sometimes reckless abandonment rather than in calculated thinking, which is why Uber shows constant billion-dollar losses.

Another interesting insight is how Travis and Emil Michael managed the deals together, Travis is a super fund-raising giant while Emil is an exceptional dealmaker, having negotiated the China exit that led to an infusion of cash, a billion-dollar infusion. We also find out that Travis was never interested in the process, or path but only in outcomes, which is apparent by the way many of Uber's activities have been handled.

Ambition and Expectation

Kalanick and Michael managed to create in eight short years one of the world's biggest and most comprehensive logistics operations, transporting people and food on a global scale. Uber has not yet reached its full potential, but that will change over time. What they managed to do was raise a market cap of $70 billion, change public transport and the delivery market worldwide and show the world how mobile applications are not just about messaging and viewing videos.

With all this success there is a downside, a huge one: Profitability. Is Uber profitable and will expectations meet the ambitions? The book discusses Uber's global conquest ambitions; it presents all the possible and probable investments and markets that Uber wants to dominate, and remember, once you are handling such large amounts of money, you can invest in just about any venture you want. Also, with a global reach, you can produce immediate change globally. The impact is enormous.

Criticism

Lashinsky gives a lot of in-depth details about organizational structure, investor relations, and global reach. The book does not cover the financial aspects and doesn’t point out the fact that Uber is losing billions of dollars every year. It might be hard to raise funds, but it’s easy to send them, and it’s much harder to convert them to profit. Being succinct, Uber’s financial management is the core and key function of its real success. Throwing investors’ money around by building up a global presence does not show intelligent and successful business acumen, it only shows how an inventor can propagate his invention through stupid investment.

The other issue that this book doesn't press is the legal implication of "independent contractors" or the drivers. By not referring to them as employees, Uber and the Lashinky continue the legal charade that relieves Uber of any real corporate responsibility to its "employees" as well as customers. Also, the fact that Uber pays hundreds of Lawyers to deal with thousands of legal issues globally is not covered in depth.

What we have is the first of many books that will be written about Uber, I expect Uber will become a university academic exercise in many ways and subjects.