The Life Story of Travis Cordell Kalanick
In a time when taxis were the only option to get around, one person had a different idea: make ridesharing a thing.
Kalanick has many ideas and controversies, but his ideas allowed him to go high up the billionaire ranks.
Mostly known for his contributions to the transportation industry, his entrepreneurial endeavors brought him a lot of recognition. In this article, we will discover how he climbed the wealth ladder.
“Imagine if we could create the most just workplace in the world. We would naturally be a magnet for all the great minds out there.” ~ Travis Kalanick
Early Life and Education
Travis Kalanick was born on the 6th of August 1976 in Los Angeles. His father was Donald Edward Kalanick, and his mother was Bonnie Renée Horowitz Bloom.
Unfortunately, he lost his mother on the 26th of May 2017 due to a boating accident. Kalanick grew up in California, in the Northridge suburb. He has one brother, a firefighter, and two half-sisters.
Kalanick was quite young when he began showing an interest in computers.
When he entered middle school, he knew how to write computer code. When he was in middle school and high school, Kalanick was very driven to win and compete for the best spot.
As a teenager, he would sell knives door to door for a company called Cutco. Then, when he was 18, he started a test preparation company called “New Way Academy.” A classmate’s father would help him with this project, adding extra experience.
He furthered his education at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), majoring in business economics and computer engineering.
He was also a member of the Theta Xi fraternity there but did not finish his education at UCLA. In 1998, he dropped out of UCLA to work full-time at a peer-to-peer filesharing service.
Founding and Growth of Scour
When Kalanick dropped out of UCLA, he did so with two other college mates: Vince Busam and Michael Todd.
The trio began working for Dan Rodrigues, who founded Scour Inc. Kalanick would handle the marketing and sales of the company during his time there.
He would also refer to himself as a co-founder of the company. However, the other co-founders did not agree with this statement.
Scour saw about a month of growth, after which they hit an impasse. Strapped for money, they began seeking funding from Michael Ovitz and Ronald Burkle, two venture capitalist investors.
Unfortunately, the negotiations were rather difficult, and Ovitz sued Scour Inc. for breach of contract.
Scour had no choice but to accept the unfavorable investment terms. This resulted in Ovitz acquiring most of the company. This made Kalanick obtain a sour view of investor-founder collaborations overall.
In September 2000, the company was close to a $250 billion lawsuit. To protect themselves, they had to file for bankruptcy.
This happened after they were accused of copyright infringement by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the Motion Pictures Association of America (MPAA), and the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA).
“There is a core independence and dignity you get when you control your own time.” ~ Travis Kalanick
Red Swoosh and Success in the Tech Industry
In 2001, a year after Scour went bankrupt, Kalanick had fairly recovered and began looking for new opportunities.
He started collaborating with Michael Todd, creating a second peer-to-peer filesharing startup. This one would be called “Red Swoosh.”
Kalanick had a blog during that time, Swooshing, where he would share his experiences.
He admitted that the first few years at Red Swoosh were difficult. He went back to living with his parents to save on rent. He also owed a $110,000 debt to the IRS.
Almost every engineer he had in the company quit and looked for other positions. Soon after, Kalanick also began living in Thailand and Trivandrum (India) to save some money.
Things started shifting for Red Swoosh, the business accelerating after it gained some prominent corporate clients.
Eventually, in 2017, Kalanick sold Red Swoosh to Akamai Technologies, receiving $19 million for it. However, he could not enjoy the money as he was accused of tax and securities perjury and fraud.
This happened because he failed to make the appropriate payments to the shareholders.
“You can’t control who you fall in love with.” ~ Travis Kalanick
Co-Founding of Uber
In 2009, Kalanick partnered with investor Garrett Camp to co-found a car-drive-sharing service.
This company would be known as “Uber.” Kalanick gave Camp credit for the idea, as he was the one to create the concept’s base model.
After that, Kalanick, Conrad Whelan, and Oscar Salazar merely joined Camp as his advisors.
By 2010, Kalanick was already Uber’s CEO. However, the company was criticized after Kalanick announced he would join Donald Trump’s “Strategy and Policy Forum.” Trump had a negative image, so Kalanick’s association with him was criticized, and he was eventually pressured to withdraw.
Controversies and Resignation from Uber
In February 2017, a former employee at Uber pointed out that the Uber company policy against sexual harassment was not enforced properly.
Kalanick dismissed the engineering SVP, Amit Singhal, for hiding a sexual harassment charge previously filed against him.
Later, Kalanick called former general attorney Eric Holder to investigate the charges. At that time, Kalanick was known as an “abrasive leader.”
During the investigation, in February 2017, a video was released of Kalanick and two women in an Uber Black having a heated argument with the driver.
Aside from the numerous sexual harassment charges that followed for the company, Kalanick was also facing fraud and breach of contract accusations.
So, in 2019, he stepped down from Uber, trading about 90% of his shares.
“When people start to perceive you as the big guy, you’re not allowed to be scrappy, fierce.” ~ Travis Kalanick
Other Business Ventures and Investments
Amidst controversy and changes in the Uber company management, Kalanick was involved in a new venture fund, the “Ten-One-Hundred (10100).
This would aim to offer employment opportunities in real estate and e-commerce. In addition, he would make investments in emerging market development.
FoodStars, a UK-based startup, offered controlling interest in Kalanick’s 10100 investment company for real estate. This led to the expansion of City Storage Systems.
Through this, he could venture into the prepared food delivery sector, often called “dark kitchens.” He also began serving as an advisor to Neom, a planned futuristic city in Tabuk Province, Saudi Arabia.
Travis Kalanick did not marry but had several relationships over time, including Gabi Holzwarth, Daniela Lopez Osorio, and Angie You.
He enjoys reading Ayn Rand novels and watching football games. He also expressed a fondness for playing football or tennis.
Kalanick purchased a townhouse in the Castro District, San Francisco, named the Jam Pad. The townhouse would have its own Twitter account, from which Kalanick would post.
He advocated for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and supported the Libertarian Party.
“What we like to say is that the vision for Uber is the cross between lifestyle and logistics.” ~ Travis Kalanick
Legacy and Impact
Kalanick’s legacy to the tech industry is significant, especially during his time at Scour and as the Uber CEO. He offered innovative use for cloud computing, smartphones, and GPS technology.
He also turned a taxi app into one of the world’s most valuable startups, which millions rely on daily.
His legacy is not in the lawsuits he received but in the companies, he helped build. “Sharing” became his work motto, whether ridesharing or filesharing. This would bring numerous opportunities to people looking for employment.
Kalanick’s road was not an easy one. But, packed with lawsuits and controversies, he became a billionaire through relentless work.
He may not have finished college, but he became one of the most successful men in the world and helped create one of the most known companies.
- Travis Kalanick is the co-founder of Uber, a ride-sharing app that revolutionized the transportation industry.
- Kalanick had an early interest in computers and dropped out of UCLA to work for a peer-to-peer file-sharing service called Scour Inc.
- After Scour went bankrupt, Kalanick founded Red Swoosh, which he later sold for $19 million but was accused of tax and securities perjury and fraud.
- Kalanick co-founded Uber in 2009 and served as its CEO until he resigned in 2019 amidst numerous controversies, including sexual harassment charges and accusations of fraud and breach of contract.
- Kalanick is involved in other business ventures and investments, including a venture fund called Ten-One-Hundred and City Storage Systems, which ventures into the prepared food delivery sector.
- Kalanick’s legacy is significant in the tech industry, and his work motto is “sharing,” whether it’s ride-sharing or file-sharing.
Listen to the Life Story of Travis Kalanick
Timeline of Travis Kalanick
Travis Cordell Kalanick is born on August 6th in Los Angeles, California.
Kalanick drops out of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to work full-time at a peer-to-peer file-sharing service.
Scour Inc, the company Kalanick works for, files for bankruptcy after being accused of copyright infringement by the Recording Industry Association of America, the Motion Pictures Association of America, and the National Music Publishers Association.
Kalanick starts collaborating with Michael Todd to create Red Swoosh, a peer-to-peer file-sharing startup. Kalanick sells Red Swoosh to Akamai Technologies in 2017 for $19 million.
Kalanick partners with Garrett Camp to co-found Uber, a car-drive-sharing service.
Kalanick becomes CEO of Uber.
Kalanick Unfortunately lost his mother on the 26th of May 2017 due to a boating accident.
Kalanick trades about 90% of his shares in Uber and steps down from the board. He is involved in a new venture fund, the “Ten-One-Hundred (10100),” which aims to offer employment opportunities in real estate and e-commerce. He also begins serving as an advisor to Neom, a planned futuristic city in Tabuk Province, Saudi Arabia.
Lessons From The Life of Travis Kalanick
There are a few lessons we can look at from the life of Travis Kalanick. I focused on the lesson of knowing and abiding by the rules.
Kalanick sold Red Swoosh to Akamai Technologies, receiving $19 million. However, he could not use the money as he was accused of tax and securities perjury and fraud. As a result, he failed to make the appropriate payments to the shareholders.
When it comes to business, there are many regulations, and ignoring them has consequences. Not understanding them is not a legitimate excuse. You must know the rules or at least deal with people that know the laws.
When it comes to managing money, you may need to postpone some payments to pay urgent ones, and this is common practice, but you need to take a calculated risk.
For example, if you use the money allocated for a payment for something else, what if things don’t go as planned? Then you have a bigger problem than the original.
A business audit can happen anytime, and if your records aren’t up to date, clear, and available, you could get into big trouble.
It’s not just money that can get you into trouble when running a business. It could be with employee issues. Some laws protect employees from being taken advantage of or being mistreated. You have to make sure there is no reason for any of your employees to file a complaint again your business, or you will lose credibility and have a lot of legal trouble that can keep you preoccupied and distract you from your goals.
If foul play is found, it will be on your record for the rest of your life. The only way to run a business is to understand the rules, abide by them, and deal with credible people that will ensure you are managing your business by the rules, such as a reputable CPA, lawyer, and HR manager. Doing so will ensure you reap the benefit of running a business, keep you out of trouble, and allow you to sleep at night!
For More, See Playing by the Rules the Only Way To Manage a Business
11 Facts About Travis Kalanick
1. Travis Cordell Kalanick was the co-founder and former CEO of Uber, a car-sharing service.
2. Kalanick grew up in California and was interested in computers from a young age.
3. Kalanick dropped out of UCLA to work full-time at a peer-to-peer file-sharing service.
4. Kalanick co-founded Scour Inc. but had to file for bankruptcy due to a lawsuit accusing them of copyright infringement.
5. Kalanick started a second peer-to-peer file-sharing startup called Red Swoosh, which he eventually sold for $19 million.
6. In 2009, Kalanick co-founded Uber with Garrett Camp.
7. Kalanick faced controversy and accusations of fraud, sexual harassment, and breach of contract during his time at Uber.
8. Kalanick stepped down from Uber in 2019 and traded about 90% of his shares.
9. Kalanick was involved in a new venture fund called Ten-One-Hundred (10100), which aimed to offer employment opportunities in real estate and e-commerce.
10. Kalanick did not marry but had several relationships over time and enjoys reading Ayn Rand novels and watching football games.
11. Kalanick’s legacy in the tech industry is significant, especially during his time at Scour and as the Uber CEO.
12 Questions & Answers About Travis Kalanick
The information in this post answers many of the questions about Travis Kalanick. In addition, this section provides a summary and any further information.
1. Who is Travis Cordell Kalanick?
Travis Cordell Kalanick is the person who created the idea of ridesharing and made it a reality through the creation of Uber.
2. When and where was Kalanick born?
Kalanick was born in Los Angeles, California, on August 6, 1976.
3. What happened to Kalanick’s mother?
Kalanick’s mother, Bonnie Renée Horowitz Bloom, passed away on May 26, 2017, due to a boating accident.
4. What was Kalanick interested in as a young boy?
Kalanick was interested in computers from a young age.
5. What company did Kalanick start at 18 years old?
Kalanick started a test preparation company called “New Way Academy” at 18 years old.
6. Where did Kalanick attend college, and what did he study?
Kalanick attended the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and majored in business economics and computer engineering.
7. What was the name of Kalanick’s first peer-to-peer filesharing startup, and what happened to it?
Kalanick’s first peer-to-peer filesharing startup was called “Scour.” Scour filed for bankruptcy in September 2000 after being accused of copyright infringement by several associations.
8. What was the name of Kalanick’s second peer-to-peer filesharing startup?
Kalanick’s second peer-to-peer filesharing startup was called “Red Swoosh.”
9. What controversy was Kalanick involved in during his time as CEO of Uber?
Kalanick was involved in several controversies during his time as CEO of Uber, including sexual harassment charges and fraud, and breach of contract accusations.
10. When did Kalanick step down from Uber, and what did he do afterward?
Kalanick stepped down from Uber in 2019 and became involved in a new venture fund called “Ten-One-Hundred (10100),” which aimed to offer employment opportunities in real estate and e-commerce.
11. Did Kalanick get married, and what are some of his hobbies?
Kalanick did not marry but had several relationships over time. He enjoys reading Ayn Rand novels, watching football games, and playing football or tennis.
12. What is Kalanick’s legacy in the tech industry?
Kalanick’s legacy in the tech industry is significant, especially during his time at Scour and as the Uber CEO. He offered innovative use for cloud computing, smartphones, and GPS technology and turned a taxi app into one of the world’s most valuable startups.
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