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Two Founders Who Changed the World

September 28, 2016

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Smart, creative people in the digital world can make a difference in our daily lives. Two who have done this are Jack Dorsey, a co-founder and CEO of Twitter and Travis Kalanick, a co-founder and chief executive of Uber.

Twitter was founded in March 2006 and Uber in March 2009 – this means that together they have been on the planet a total of 17 years. In the start-up world this is amazing. Why?

Uber can be found in 50-plus cities in China

Let’s take a look at a few statistics from the venture capitalist, Marc Andreessen. He states, “We meet with 3,000 companies each year and we invest in 15. Ten of these will fail, four will survive and one might become a unicorn.” [Note: a unicorn is one that lasts, e.g., Facebook]

An even more sobering fact is that of the 18 companies valued at more than $1 billion in 2000, an astounding 11 have imploded and are no longer in business.

TWITTER IS ALWAYS IN TURMOIL

In Vanity Fair, Summer 2016 issue, writer Nick Bilton takes a close look at Twitter in an article called, Dorsey’s Dilemma. Like Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, Dorsey was fired from Twitter in 2008. And, like Jobs, he had a remarkable comeback: he founded a mobile-payments company, Square (estimated to be worth around $5 billion).

Twitter: sending info in 140-characters or less

A NEAR-CONSTANT STATE OF CHAOS: Twitter has had five leaders in 10 years and it happened again with the most recent CEO, Dick Costolo, who left abruptly in June 2015 – mainly because the company had stopped being cool. Even though it had 300 million active users its stock was on a jagged decline for 18 months. When Costolo left, the job was offered to Jack Dorsey, who promptly refused it because, as he said, “I’m not going to leave Square.”

TWITTER HAD TO BECOME COOL AGAIN: It was decided that the only one who could do this was the person who created the magic originally. And so, to the amazement of everyone, at the end of 2015, Dorsey became CEO of both Twitter and Square.

Twitter still has problems but Dorsey notes that, “Apple at its low, was worth $271 million. Then Steve Jobs returned and set it on a path to a market capitalization of $774 billion.

UBER’S BATTLE FOR CHINA

This car-hailing app has disrupted companies around the world. But in China it is losing $1 billion a year in a fight for market share. Leslie Hook reports in the Financial Times 6/18/16 on Uber and where it is today. China is now the company’s largest market, accounting for more than a third of its business in terms of weekly trips. This makes it Uber’s biggest bet and toughest market. The company loses more money here than anywhere else.

UBER NOW OPERATES IN 68 COUNTRIES but Kalanick, its 39-year-old leader spent nearly one in five days in China in 2015. Most tech giants (Facebook, Google, Amazon) have met with failure in China. Kalanick says, “When we came to China, people called us crazy and maybe we still are.”

CURRENTLY UBER IS IN 50-PLUS CITIES IN CHINA but is aiming for 150 by the end of 2016. Kalanick says, “We use our profits from other markets to support our investment in China.” Uber has been profitable in North America [see ADEA’s No-hassle Travel at Last] Australia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

 China has 20% of the world’s population. That’s why Uber is there.

THE BIGGEST PROBLEM FOR UBER is that it has finally met a counterpart every bit as disruptive and aggressive as itself. UPDATE: on August 1st, it was announced that Uber China is merging with Didi Chuxing – its fiercest competitor. In other words, Uber lost. Now, here’s the snapper. Guess who’s the president of Didi Chuxing? A 37-year-old Harvard-educated Asian female named Jean Liu. You go girl!  

Shaun Nelson-HenrickSaveSaveSaveSave


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