What's so great about Travis Kalanick

Current start-up dates

An asshole called Taxi

Travis is not squeamish about criticism. His notorious comment: "We are in a political campaign in which the candidate is called Uber and the opponent is an asshole called Taxi." Cartel and as the savior of the free market. And at the same time he sees himself as a visionary entrepreneur who wants to free our cities from useless cars and car journeys and who wants to give us a lot of free time for other things through his driving service. Travis, of course, is anything but a benefactor or do-gooder. It is also not about being part of the sharing economy in the original sense of sharing among equals. It is hardly surprising that Uber is a profit-oriented company that simply uses the method: Profits to me (broker), risks to you (driver). It's not for nothing that Travis is considered one of the most aggressive players in the tech industry.

Move fast - break things

Travis and Garrett drive their business model with the special Silicon Valley spirit: Move fast - break things. So get started first and provide facts and improve afterwards if necessary. In practice, this means that legal hurdles are simply ignored in the cities in which Uber is active. In many places in the USA it is consequently the Uber founders who deliberately ignore laws, bans or cease and desist statements and thus usually manage to re-dictate the regulations for passenger transport in cities. Travis comment: cease and desist letters are nothing more than hate letters and he can use them to paper his office walls.

And where there is hesitant behavior on the part of the administration - such as the start of business in Washington - Uber unceremoniously mobilizes its fan base via Facebook and exerts pressure until those responsible move in the "right" direction. The image of the Uber rolling command is making the rounds in the USA, and then also internationally from 2012, first in Paris, then Toronto, London and Asia.

The strict European regulations have so far largely prevented Uber from competing with taxis in Europe as powerfully as they do at home. In Germany, for example, Uber is only used in Berlin and Munich with commercial services. In dealing with the European market, which is not that easy, Travis also seems to be trying to get rid of his oops-come-now-I image. Because in future he wants to “approach the authorities in a spirit of partnership” and “adhere to the laws that apply here”. On the one hand, he will probably have no choice, on the other hand this can be interpreted as an insight that Travis would like to learn how other markets and countries tick before he rolls out his business. Despite many hurdles, Travis ’success as a taxi fright cannot be denied: Uber is currently active on six continents, in over 70 countries and in more than 400 cities.

Billions in investments

The success is also reflected in the sales. According to the Reuters news agency, this is said to have been around $ 2 billion in 2015 and, according to Travis, doubles every six months. The Uber model is also very popular with investors. With the exception of Facebook, no other company has been trading as high as Uber by VC donors. In 2014, Uber's market value was estimated at around $ 17 billion. Investors such as Goldman Sachs, Google, Benchmark Capital or Amazon founder Jeff Bezos as well as Russian oligarchs rely fully on the transport service provider: Travis and Garrett raised 1.2 billion dollars in capital in June 2014 alone. In the past four years, Uber has invested $ 7.4 billion in debt, according to the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones VentureSource.

The company's value is currently estimated to be as much as 69 billion dollars (as of the end of 2016). The IPO appears to be in preparation and is expected by analysts in around two years. Profits that Uber now makes in 100 cities are - according to Travis in an interview in mid-2016 - directly reinvested in the further worldwide expansion of the offer.

Mega defeat in China

The damper that Uber has received in China, the market with the greatest Uber potential, is unlikely to change much in the long term. After investing a large part of all revenues in the China business, and in February of this year had to admit that China loses more than a billion dollars a year, the Chinese Uber subsidiary was recently sold to its biggest local rival Didi Chuxing. In return, Uber acquired around a fifth of Didi. Since the market value of Didi and Uber-China is currently estimated at around 35 billion dollars, this corresponds to a sales value of around 7 billion dollars. Lots of money for Uber, but a hard slap in the face for Travis ’global ambitions.

Uber had and must invest a lot of money in its global growth. Analysts estimate that around $ 4 billion has been consumed since 2009. The reason for this lies in the combination of low income and comparatively high spending on investments - this is neither unusual nor (currently) dangerous for a functioning business model like Uber, especially with a market value of 69 billion. Where should Uber save now? Perhaps the drivers, who are allowed to keep 80 percent of the travel income? Hardly, because in the USA and elsewhere there are quite serious competitors like Lyft who are just waiting for Uber to alienate its drivers in order to then take them over. And by no means all Uber drivers are satisfied with the reimbursement of the risk that is 100 percent on them as drivers and car owners. Uber is even willing to pay 100 million dollars to put the current legal dispute with around 385,000 of its drivers aside. In a class action lawsuit, they had previously criticized Uber for treating them as employees rather than self-employed.

New challenges

Perhaps this is also a not insignificant reason why Uber has been using driverless driving for a long time with large investor Google at its side. "If the other guy in the car (the Uber driver, editor's note) disappears, the costs go down," Travis is often quoted with this statement. One will have to wait in vain for such robust statements in the future. Instead, Travis, who has long since ceased to serve his outrageous image, expresses himself like this today: “You cannot become a good entrepreneur if you are satisfied with just solving one problem. There are still bigger challenges. Driverless cars are next on the agenda for us and other companies in this industry. "

In order to develop new sources of income, Uber will in future rely on car pooling, i.e. instead of one passenger, several paying passengers will be transported in one and the same vehicle, similar to regular transport. Uber is also experimenting with the helicopter brokerage model in Sao Paolo, and in some US cities you can have food or parcels delivered to your home via an app. It is easy to see here that Uber has long since ceased to be the taxi killer in the beginning, but has instead embarked on the path to becoming a global platform for all kinds of driver services. “To make transport services as reliable as tap water”, Travis is currently tirelessly proclaiming as a vision, and ultimately means to bundle the urban traffic flows of people, goods and service providers or providers of all kinds in the future logistically and technologically and to want to lead the way around the world.

The future is on demand

It can therefore be assumed that everything at Uber in the future will revolve around the topics of on-demand mobility and connected mobility (i.e. the digital networking of all modes of transport, structures and providers). And that ultimately comes down to the question of who will hold the technological and entrepreneurial threads in their hands when it comes to future mobility. Because there has to be someone who plays a key role in controlling the complex flow of mobility within a city and beyond. Travis ’vision, uttered on the occasion of Uber’s five-year anniversary, is:“ The current status quo of transportation is falling apart. We can choose to just do nothing and thereby create a future where our cities are crammed with cars and polluted with exhaust fumes. But we can also welcome a future in which companies like Uber are working with the public on a 21st century transportation system. "

Since Uber does not make any further statements about its vision, we consider below where the global mobility journey of Travis' tech company and thus that of the other mobility players could go in the coming decades and look speculatively into the year 2050.