Uber is riding high on a high valuation (nearly $50 billion) and a promise to take over the world. From a San Francisco based startup to one of the hottest companies in Silicon Valley – Uber’s come a long way.
And along the company’s success, Travis Kalanick, the co-founder and CEO of Uber, made it to the Forbes list of billionaires. But it was not just his entrepreneuring skills that worked for the company’s success. The man has a now-not-so-secret passion and some “weird ways”, that investor Lowercase Capital partner Chris Sacca, finds important in an entrepreneur.
Chris Sacca, the founder of Lowercase Capital and an early Uber investor shares a story from a years ago.
“A few years ago, Uber was barely started, Travis was at my house up in the mountains over the holidays hanging out with me and my family, and he’s pal-ing around with my dad. And my dad says, “Hey, let’s play a game of Wii Tennis (Nintendo Wii).” My dad had a Wii at home and considered himself a pretty good tennis player. He’s like mildly athletic and has played in a few local tennis tournaments. So Travis is like, “Alright.”
Travis is barely awake yet. And they sit there and they start playing this Wii Tennis game and my dad is getting abused. He’s losing handily to Travis… And Travis is like, in full “Princess Bride” style, he says… “I’m playing with my opposite hand.” And so he switches the controller to his other hand.
They start the match again, and my dad doesn’t score a single point. He is absolutely swinging away and he gets no points in, and half of Travis’ serves are just aces. My dad is completely dejected. So this grin comes over Travis’ face, and… he starts thumbing over on the controller to the settings page on the Wii and to where they have the global high score. And he says, “I’m actually tied for second in the global rankings in Wii Tennis.” He was the second best player in the world in Wii Tennis.
I don’t know when the day was when Travis decided he wanted to be one of the best Wii Tennis players in the world while founding what’s gone on to become the biggest transportation company in history. But it was in that moment that I saw his true obsession with obtaining a goal. Once he sets something out as a goal for himself, he will absolutely accomplish it – at probably any cost.”
Travis Kalanick has carried that sportsman and problem-solving spirit to Uber. “He doesn’t sleep. He doesn’t lose focus. He will even forget to eat. He executes again and again, inspiring those around him to have the same passion for the end game as he does”, Sacca said. “He would even take the cheapest hotels and hostels while traveling, and he’s a billionaire” Sacca added admiring Kalanick’s ability to stay grounded into the bootstrapped startup culture.
Kalanick didn’t have a golden fortune. His first startup failed and filed bankruptcy and the second one didn’t quite work out either and sold for $18.7 million in stock. He invested eight hard years in entrepreneuring, dropped out of U.C.L.A and reached almost mid-30s when Uber happened finally. But when it clicked, it clicked big time. And the next few years changed the transportation history forever.
Today Uber is competing with taxi services in the USA and 58 other countries all over the world and Kalanick holds at least 12% of the company.