The new series Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber on Showtime and Paramount Plus shows insight into how Uber’s ride-sharing service got established and made its mark internationally. Though the story is based on the book written by Mike Isaac of the New York Times, there is always a grain of truth with the stories you see on the big or small screen.
In episode one, you see Travis Kalanick, portrayed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, announce that drivers have started joining the company to begin advancing the goal: taking over the world. Randall Pearson, performed by Richard Schiff, talks to Travis on a balcony where he is warning Travis that trouble is coming from the taxi companies who will sue, disrupt and hopefully destroy “UberCab” for their loss of customers and drivers. Instead, Randall proposes that Travis joint venture with the taxis, putting his technology in their cabs, so both parties could greatly profit.
Rather than accept the offer and develop those relationships, Travis heavily declines. This is a powerful moment to witness on the screen that deeply resonates with business owners and entrepreneurs. Even though it’s great to develop profitable joint ventures, competition forces you to continually improve. To always stay on the cutting edge of new development and ideas.
Another powerful example of this is that Apple did not partner up with Microsoft. They remained rivals, but that rivalry forced them to continue building better systems, codes, technology, and more within their structure. This is a situation where, although seeing another party and yourself both grow together, there are situations where you must decide who your competition is and hope they rise to the occasion.
It takes a massive risk to develop new ideas that challenge the “status quo” because that could be disrupting the comfortable bed that companies and individuals make for themselves. Also shared in the episode from Kalanick is that San Francisco started with a horse and carriage, but then came the streetcar. Then the cable car was replaced by jitneys, and local buses, making cable cars a tourist attraction. This was all followed by the taxi and now, Uber.
In the tv show, Kalanick says, “We are disruptors– because that is what revolution requires.” Just because there is a product or service already in existence that people are happy with does not mean that something better shouldn’t come along. The limit is your own belief and imagination.