Bill Maris, a managing partner and the president of Google’s investment fund Google Ventures, has backed a number of companies, ranging from science and oncology startups like Flatiron Health to more consumer-facing services like Nest and Uber.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, he seems to think Uber CEO Travis Kalanick gets a bad rep in the press.
“How we judge startups should be how they respond to challenges,” Maris said. “It’s impossible not to have issues in growth.”
Onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt on Tuesday, Maris also told his favourite story about Travis Kalanick.
When Google Ventures was thinking about investing in Uber’s first round of funding, Maris went to go meet with Kalanick to kick the tires and see if it would be a good fit for Google Ventures to invest in his company.
“I said, we really think we can help and want to be part of this,” Maris recalled onstage. “We asked, what does it take to take it off the table? We don’t want to get into an auction.”
Kalanick told Maris and his colleagues: Here’s the price we’re looking for. Here’s what I want this round to look like.
“We shook on it. Travis was good for his word and that’s what we look for in entrepreneurs,” Maris said. “He did not come back to the table and say, ‘we have an offer for 15% more, 20% more,’ and he absolutely could have. It really speaks to the way he runs the company.”
Google Ventures invested in Uber’s $US258 million Series C round of funding in August 2013 and its $US1.2 billion Series D round of funding in June 2014.