Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Global Impact of Two Tech Giants

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Global Impact of Two Tech Giants

Article excerpt


THE UPSTARTS: HOW UBER, AIRBNB AND THE KILLER COMPANIES OF THE NEW SILICON VALLEY ARE CHANGING THE WORLD by Brad Stone (Bantam, PS20) AT THE end of this entertaining book on the rise of Uber and Airbnb and their central figures Travis Kalanick and Brian Chesky are described as the "new architects of the 21st century", with as much power as the world's political leaders.

It is a bold claim but one that author Brad Stone makes credible as he unfolds the story of how these multi-billion-dollar businesses have grown from fledgling Silicon Valley start-ups to global phenomena, using popular support to overcome regulators and "outdated" laws, while transforming the holiday rental and taxi markets for millions of people worldwide.

Their achievements are impressive, and emerge as all the more so as Stone, a journalist who has covered California's technology industry for more than 15 years, sets out how Chesky, the driving force behind Airbnb, and Kalanick, the oftenconfrontational Uber boss, have used determination, ruthlessness and the mastery of technology and data to make their respective ideas fly, giving insights along the way into the qualities needed for an entrepreneur to succeed.

Chesky and his fellow Airbnb founders are, for example, described as "cockroaches" in an early meeting with a potential investor and adviser after failing to accept a rebuff. The description turns out to be the "highest possible compliment", signifying something "unkillable" and capable of weathering any challenge.

Kalanick comes across as more determined still and is portrayed as openly aggressive, turning his chair to face away from a regulator in one meeting in a deliberate sign of disdain, and ready to take on legal battles whenever Uber's attempts to spread its business to a new city are challenged. …

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