Monday, May 22, 2017

What happened when VC Fred Wilson met Uber's Travis Kalanick: 'We just didn't like each other'

From CNBC, May 17:
  • Union Square Ventures investor Fred Wilson had harsh words for Uber on stage at the Techonomy NYC conference.
  • He criticized CEO Travis Kalanick's "win at all costs" strategy and says it "didn't actually work."
  • But he acknowledged that one big insight at Uber, that the economy is shifting toward more gig-based freelance work, is right.

Venture capitalist Fred Wilson said he met with Uber boss Travis Kalanick about investing in the ride-hailing company — but it didn't go well.

"We didn't like each other," Wilson said Wednesday at the Techonomy NYC conference.
Wilson is a partner at Union Square Ventures, an early investor in internet companies like Stripe, Twilio, LendingClub, Etsy, Tumblr, Twitter and Indeed.

Uber has been under pressure amid an internal investigation into sexism claims, a trade secret dispute with Alphabet and allegations that the company evaded regulators. Wilson said Uber's "win-at-all-costs" strategy assumed that drivers and consumers would be loyal — rather than adopting multiple platforms to compare prices.
"I think Uber had a strategy that didn't actually work, which was that they were going to run the table on the ride-sharing industry, and they were going to put everybody out of business by raising more money than anybody else," Wilson said. "They thought that they were going to do in ride-sharing what Google has done in search ... and it just didn't work."
Uber's valuation, though, has exploded — it was valued at over $68 billion in its last funding round, according to reports. Union Square Ventures invested in Sidecar Technologies, acquired by General Motors, which collaborates with Uber's rival, Lyft.

But Wilson said because the Kalanick tightly controlled the way the company was financed, most of the money from Uber's business is "only on paper."

"No one has made any money in reality," Wilson said. "Everything that's gone wrong is a function of their strategy to control everything and go very aggressively."...