The GQ story is an excellent first-person take on what's cool about Uber, and what's simply curious.
In this month’s GQ magazine, a writer signs up to be an uberX driver in Los Angeles and shares both his stories on the road, and a few good lines from Kalanick. We’ve pulled out the most interesting ones, below.
On being the CEO of a high-flying startup: When I tease [Travis Kalanick] about his skyrocketing desirability, he deflects with a wisecrack about women on demand: “Yeah, we call that Boob-er.”
On safety in the upper middle class: I was basically picking up hitchhikers and trying to convince myself: Murderers don’t use iPhones.
On the driver-to-Uber relationship: Uber operates more like a pimp than a boss: Depending on the city, Uber gets approximately 20 percent; the driver pockets the rest.
On keeping the riders happy: Passengers rate drivers anonymously on a scale from 1 to 5; I needed to maintain a 4.7 rating to stay employed.
On awesome technology that’s changing the industry: My Uber phone was equipped with a “heat map,” which shows drivers where the company’s most active customers are currently located. Staring at the heat map is like being connected to the Matrix; you can see where shit is going down.
On ego: No one feels like a baller getting out of a yellow cab. But disappearing into the night? You’re not lame—you’re Rick Ross.
On dealing with regulation rather than relaxation: Says Kalanick: “I’m spending a lot of time with city officials in Miami when I would much rather be at the Shore Club. Or the SLS.”
On throwing Charlie-Sheen-inspired hashtags into everyday conversation: “If you can get a Prius for cheaper than a taxi, you just changed 100,000 people’s lives in a city. If you can get it reliably? Holy shit.” Kalanick pauses to sum up the experience, then says unabashedly: “That’s hashtag winning.”
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Photo credit: Transportation app Uber is seen on the iPhone of limousine driver Shuki Zanna in Beverly Hills. Lucy Nicholson / Reuters