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商业 - 科技

它的创始人现在个个身家50亿美元:Uber最真实的创业史

Adam Lashinsky 2015年06月14日

风靡世界的打车软件Uber刚刚度过5岁生日。最早加入的5名员工近日回顾了Uber的创业史,真实地向我们展示了他们是如何加入这家公司,创业初期的任务是什么,以及如何管理业务的迅猛增长,如何应对监管挑战的。

    Uber首席执行官特拉维斯•卡拉尼克(左二)与他的团队。照片摄于Uber创业初期。

    Uber已经整整5岁了。对于许多用户来说,那些只能靠出租车或打电话叫车外出的日子,似乎已经成为一段难以想象的历史。Uber当然已经长大,就算它还没有成长为一家巨头级企业。目前,Uber已进入全球58个国家的311个城市。为了纪念成立5周年,Uber在它的家乡和第一个市场旧金山举办了一系列推广活动。该公司CEO特拉维斯•卡拉尼克将对Uber的员工、司机和各路贵宾发表演讲。演讲的主题包括大城市面对的挑战(比如,怎样让道路变得更安全,怎样应对交通拥堵,怎样提高经济增长机会等),以及Uber计划如何应对。此外,Uber在旧金山的员工本周也将分头赶往城市各处,志愿参加一些市政工程建设。

    为了纪念成立5周年,Uber最近允许最早加入该公司的5名员工接受媒体采访,谈谈他们是如何来到Uber的,最早的任务是什么。他们的故事都有一些共同的主题,比如意外加盟了一家一开始似乎毫不起眼的公司,然后拼命创新,利用Twitter求职,与重要的科技发展保持同步等等。以下是采访记录。

    Uber turns five this week. For many users it’s hard to imagine a time when taxis or dial-a-number car services were the only way to be driven around. If Uber isn’t quite grown up yet, it certainly has grown. It is now in 311 cities in 58 countries, and it employs more than 3,000 people worldwide. To celebrate its anniversary the company is running a series of promotions in its home town and first market, San Francisco. Travis Kalanick, the company’s chief executive, also plans to give a speech to Uber’s employees, drivers, and various dignitaries. He’ll focus on the challenges that cities face (including safer roads, congestion, and economic opportunity) and how he thinks Uber can help. As well, Uber’s San Francisco employees plan to fan out across San Francisco over the weekend, volunteering on a handful of public-works projects.

    In celebration of its anniversary, Uber recently made five of its earliest employees available for interviews to talk about how they came to Uber and what some of their first tasks were. Their stories have some common themes, including the serendipity of joining something that didn’t look like much at first, scrapping to get something new going, and using Twitter to job hunt and stay abreast of critical developments. Their comments follow.

    莱恩•格拉维斯与奥斯汀•盖特在公司创业早期。

    2009年,莱恩•格拉维斯还在为通用电气工作,他觉得自己需要改变。

    我说:“我不能当一个通用人。”我想进入创业界。于是我在Twitter上关注了纽约的很多人,以及全国各地的天使投资人,因为我猜想天使投资人知道下一个大事件是什么。

    我想了解下一个创新。我去见了Foursquare(一家基于用户地理位置信息的手机服务网站)的人,当时他们只有四五个人,也没有提供任何实习机会或业务岗位,但我还是去了芝加哥,其实就算开始为Foursquare工作了。我干了大约3个月,然后通过我关注的某位天使投资人的Twitter账号看到了特拉维斯发的一条推文。他谈到了Uber获得大机构投资,有大人物支持。我觉得那听起来非常有意思。

    于是我给他发了私信,然后写了几段话介绍我自己。我们整整聊了两个小时,一直聊到凌晨一点钟。然后,我在半夜叫醒我妻子说:“嘿,我们搬到旧金山怎么样?”当时我们住在芝加哥。她说:“如果你觉得好,我支持你。”

    格拉维斯于2010年2月搬到旧金山。新公司当时有很多工作要做,特别是要继续完善Uber联合创始人加勒特•坎普开发的产品。

    加勒特有一个原型产品,但运行得不是很好。所以我们首先做的,就是在进入苹果应用商店之前,找家公司重新构造。那家公司名叫Mobley,后来被团购网站Groupon收购了。然后,我们设计了UberCab.com的网站。我们还完善了注册流程和集成信用卡支付系统。所有最基础的商务框架都需要被构建出来。当时我们经常约一名司机在咖啡店见面,问他问题,以了解现实世界能否接受我们的理念。

    Ryan Graves was working for GE in 2009, and he decided he needed a change.

    I said, “I cannot be the GE guy.” I wanted to get into the startup world. I started following on Twitter a lot of guys in New York and angel investors around the country, figuring that angel investors know what’s coming next.

    I wanted to know what was coming next in terms of starting something. I met the Foursquare guys when there were four or five them. They weren’t offering any kind of internships or business roles at the time, but I went out to Chicago and essentially started working for Foursquare. I did that for about three months. Then I saw a Tweet from Travis through some random angel investor who I was following who didn’t know him from Adam. He talked about big equity, big people involved. And I thought that sounded interesting.

    So I tweeted at him and I shot him a couple of paragraphs about who I was. We spoke that night ’till one in the morning. It was a two-hour conversation. I woke up my wife in the middle of the night and said, “Hey, what do you think about moving to San Francisco?” We were in Chicago at the time. To her credit, she said, “If you think it’s a good idea, I’m up for it.”

    Graves moved to San Francisco in February 2010. There was a lot of work to do at the new company, including improving on the work of one of Uber’s co-founders, Garrett Camp.

    Garrett had a prototype that didn’t work very well, so one of the first things we did was go out and get a firm to rebuild it before we pushed it to the App Store. They were called Mobley and were later acquired by Groupon. Then we designed the site for UberCab.com. We also worked on things like the sign-up flow and integrated credit card payment systems. All of the basics of commerce needed to be built out. We had one guy who was a driver that we would meet with at coffee shops, asking him questions so we could get an idea if the real world would accept this idea.

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