BY L.A. LOREK
Founder of Silicon Hills News
Uber, a ride-sharing app available in 30 cities nationwide, wants to change the way you get around.
Dave McClure, founder of 500 Startups, quizzed Travis Kalanick, CEO of San Francisco-based Uber during a morning session Saturday at South by Southwest Interactive titled “Geeksta Paradise: the ballers of Uber, Airbnb and Github.”
They kicked off the morning by playing the Harlem Shuffle and serving up Mimosas. More than 500 people packed into the A B and C conference rooms at the Hilton Austin downtown. It’s part of a day-long conference within the mega conference of SXSW, focused on Lean Startup methodology, based on the book by author and entrepreneur Eric Ries.
During the morning session, Kalanick discussed the challenges and opportunities of disrupting an incumbent industry: taxi cabs. He said Uber has received cease and desist orders in most of the markets in which it now operates. But it sued and won the right to operate in the those markets.
Still, Uber faces challenges expanding in the United States.
“It’s easier to do business in Paris than it is Colorado,” Kalanick said.
Uber is available in Dallas and Austin. It plans to expand to San Antonio and Houston in the future.
Kalanick also didn’t directly answer a question from an audience member about whether the company planned to go public.
“There’s so much money in the private markets right now,” said Kalanick.
So Uber isn’t looking at the public market right now, he said. It has raised $49.5 million from investors since Uber’s founding in 2010.
Uber is part of a movement called the shareable economy. Entrepreneurs have launched several businesses in the past few years focused on the transportation industry.
SideCar, which is operating in Austin, recently acquired HeyRide, a ride sharing app which received a cease and desist order from the city of Austin. Lyft is also chasing the ride-sharing market.
Other industries have found success in sharing consumer resources. Chief among them is Airbnb, a site that allows people to register their spare bedroom, cottage or house or even Airstream trailer to others. It’s a marketplace for people to find alternatives to a hotel or motel room.
Joe Zadeh, director of product at Airbnb, which launched in 2009, and Scott Chacon with Github, a social network for programmers, also shared their experiences with their companies in the shareable economy.
“Airbnb has to be everywhere where you are not,” Zadeh said. Thus, Airbnb has to be an international company to be successful, he said.
Living the Life at Geeksta Paradise with Uber, Github and Airbnb at SXSW
BY L.A. LOREK