Travis Kalanick is no stranger to legal battles. After dropping out of UCLA to work on a file sharing company Sour, Kalanick found his startup sued for a quarter of a trillion dollars and filed for bankruptcy.
So how did he go from that to the founder of a soon-to-be billion-dollar car service startup, Uber?
Inc’s Christine Lagorio wrote an in-depth profile of Kalanick and Uber in this month’s issue of Inc. In it, she describes Kalanick’s roots and turnaround.
Kalanick, who hails from Los Angeles, learned to code in middle school. After Sour filed for bankruptcy, Kalanick wooed investors such as Mark Cuban into backing a new startup, Red Swoosh. Logorio writes that he lived with his mother during this time and didn’t pay himself much.
After some struggles with the business (Mark Cuban even asked for his money back), Kalanick pulled out a win and sold Red Swoosh for $19 million. Then, Kalanick became an angel investor.
The 36-year-old says he and his co-founder Garrett Camp, came up with the idea for Uber on a cold winder day at the 2008 LeWeb conference. It was actually Camp who pitched the initial idea, which was presented as a “time share for limousines.”
He writes the founding story on Uber’s blog:
Amongst the amazing food, the copious amounts of wine and inevitable nightlife crawls there were all kinds of discussions about what’s next. Garrett had sold StumbleUpon to Ebay and had been doing “hard time” at a big company. I had just completed my tour with Akamai after selling Red Swoosh to them in 2007.
Jamming on ideas, rapping on what’s next is what entrepreneurs do. Garrett and I would get some good music, good drinks and jam until 5am. Garrett’s big idea was cracking the horrible taxi problem in San Francisco — getting stranded on the streets of San Francisco is familiar territory for any San Franciscan. Garrett’s m.o. fits the Uber brand. He likes to roll in style, comfort and convenience. His over-the-top idea in Paris that winter started as a limo timeshare service. I think his original pitch had me and him splitting the costs of a driver, a Mercedes S Class, and a parking spot in a garage, so that I could use an iPhone app to get around San Francisco on-demand. Hilarious! Obviously things have changed quite a bit :)
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