Inside the Uber drama
Book review: Wild Ride: Inside Uber's Quest for World Domination
Veteran scribe gets to heart of the story
Timing is everything and this book on Uber hits the news stands at a most opportune moment. The ride-hailing group is mired in scandal. Each week seems to herald some fresh corporate horror. In the past six months, the company has grappled with regulators, a sexual harassment scandal and the resignation of its CEO, Travis Kalanick.
In Wild Ride, Adam Lashinsky looks at Uber’s origins and the personal, financial and social aspects of its rise. It had a dodgy start but, seven years since it began, it has more than 80m users in 77 countries. It essentially reshaped the ingrained consumer behaviour of not accepting a lift from a stranger.
What I like about the book is this: Lashinsky is a fine writer. He’s a veteran Fortune magazine scribe, now executive editor. Remember, he also wrote the acclaimed Inside Apple. His reporting skills make this a rather valuable read — the pace of the narrative is excellent and he leaves nothing out, particularly not the four-letter words so associated with Uber’s rap sheet.
His interview with Kalanick spans almost a chapter but it doesn’t take place in a boardroom. They go walkabout through San Francisco and end up taking an Uber after three hours. It’s important to know that this book is not biased, despite the insider access afforded to Lashinsky, who once travelled by private jet — from Beijing to Hangzhou — with Kalanick and some of Uber’s top execs.
When the book ends, you can’t help but feel a bit emotional. Kalanick, despite being called a jerk (and worse), is so intertwined in the DNA of Uber that you can’t help but wonder what the future of the company will be without him.
Wild Ride: Inside Uber’s Quest for World Domination