“Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber“ delivers a gripping account of Uber’s rapid rise, its pitched battles with taxi unions and drivers, the company’s toxic internal culture and the bare-knuckle tactics it devised to overcome obstacles in its quest for dominance, New York Times reporter, Mike Isaac writes for his book promotion.
Due to be released on September 3rd by publishers W.W. Norton & Co, Isaac based his upcoming book about Uber on hundreds of interviews with current and former Uber employees, along with previously unpublished documents.
Super Pumped promises to be a page-turning story of ambition and deception, obscene wealth and bad behavior, that explores how blistering technological and financial innovation culminated in one of the most catastrophic twelve-month periods in American corporate history.
According to The New York Times, the new book, titled, “Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber“ presents the dramatic rise and fall of Uber, set against an era of rapid upheaval in Silicon Valley. Backed by billions in venture capital dollars and led by a brash and ambitious founder, Uber promised to revolutionize the way we move people and goods through the world. A near-instant “unicorn,” Uber seemed poised to take its place next to Amazon, Apple, and Google as a technology giant.
What followed would become a corporate cautionary tale about the perils of startup culture and a vivid example of how blind worship of startup founders can go wildly wrong. Isaac recounts Uber’s pitched battles with taxi unions and drivers, the company’s toxic internal culture, and the bare-knuckle tactics it devised to overcome obstacles in its quest for dominance. With billions of dollars at stake, Isaac shows how venture capitalists asserted their power and seized control of the startup as it fought its way toward its fateful IPO. (Source: Amazon)
Even before the book’s release date, excerpts from Isaac’s publication is trending on social media. The online discussion stems from the New York Times story, “How Uber Got Lost“ where Isaac writes about how in April 2014, Uber announced a new $1 charge on fares called the “Safe Rides Fee.”
The start-up described the charge as necessary to fund “an industry-leading background check process, regular motor vehicle checks, driver safety education, development of safety features in the app, and insurance.”
But that was misleading. Uber’s margin on any given fare was mostly fixed, at around 20 to 25 percent, with the remainder going to the driver. According to employees who worked on the project, the Safe Rides Fee was devised primarily to add $1 of pure margin to each trip. Over time, court documents show, it brought in nearly half a billion dollars for the company, and after the money was collected, it was never earmarked specifically for improving safety. (Source: New York Times)
Owen Thomas of the San Francisco Chronicle writes, “If you want to understand how Uber became so big, so fast, it’s in this book. If you want to learn how the #DeleteUber movement took off and customers and drivers came to hate a company they loved, it’s in this book. If you want to know how Travis Kalanick rose to an unassailable position running the world’s most valuable private tech company and then was toppled, it’s in this book.”
Isaac also exposes the bro culture that cast a shadow over the company. For example, Uber executives had a pet phrase to describe expensing strip clubs to the corporate card: “tits on Travis.” Even the NY Post has reported on Uber’s sexual harassment claims, wage complaints from drivers and its rowdy, inappropriate workplace culture. The US Attorney General investigated the accusations and issued new employee guidelines that suggested limiting alcohol in the workplace.
Female employees accused the company of failing to address the allegations of sexual harassment. It’s no wonder that Uber resists allowing drivers and passengers to choose their rideshare experience based on gender.
In June 2017, Travis Kalanick, the CEO of Uber, was ousted in a boardroom coup that capped a brutal year for the transportation giant. Uber had catapulted to the top of the tech world, yet for many came to symbolize everything wrong with Silicon Valley. (Source: Mike Isaac)
For those of you interested in learning more about Uber’s ride-sharing history and corporate culture, Super Pumped stands to deliver an exciting read.
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