Uber Technologies Inc. hasn’t bought a single company and doesn’t plan to change its strategy, Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick said after being asked about the likelihood of acquiring ride-sharing startup Lyft Inc.
“We are not in acquisition mode,” Kalanick, who co-founded the mobile car-booking company, said today at TechCrunch’s Disrupt SF conference in San Francisco.
Asked in an onstage interview whether he would buy Lyft to end its complaints about Uber’s competitive tactics, Kalanick said, “Uber has not acquired a single company. We are focused on the product. We are in 45 countries. We haven’t spent time on M&A,” referring to mergers and acquisitions.
Uber and Lyft’s rivalry has been escalating as they compete for drivers and customers in the expanding mobile car booking market. Both San Francisco-based startups have accused one another of using aggressive tactics to recruit new drivers. Lyft said last month that Uber employees had canceled more than 5,000 booked rides, while Uber said Lyft was responsible for 12,900 voided trips.
Uber was founded in 2009 and has since expanded to more than 140 cities. It recently raised $1.2 billion in a round of financing that valued the company at $17 billion. Kalanick said that Uber creates 50,000 jobs every month. Beijing, where there are 70,000 cabs compared with 13,000 in New York, has become Uber’s fastest growth market, the CEO said.
“In China, I can be the little guy and for me it’s like homecoming,” Kalanick said, referring to the challenges of his early startup days.
Uber customers use their smartphones to book luxury car services as well as a new ride-sharing service called Uber Pool. The company is also looking at markets outside of passenger transport, such as logistics. Uber offers bicycle courier deliveries in New York, and has tested moving services in Atlanta and Nashville, Tennessee.
Uber hired David Plouffe, U.S. President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign manager, to be senior vice president of policy and strategy and lead policy and political activities, branding and communications.
“When you are perceived as the big guy, you can’t be the fierce, scrappy guy, you have to approach things differently and you have to communicate them differently,” Kalanick said of Uber’s communication needs.
Kalanick compared the car-booking and ride-sharing market to a political campaign, where the main opponent is an established taxi industry, while the challengers are small upstarts such as Uber and Lyft. The stress of competing against incumbents is his worst enemy, Kalanick said.
“Stress will kill me,” he said.
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