I’m in the process of reading Brad Stone’s The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley are Changing the World. Stone is a veteran tech journalist. I read his book The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon, which was an inside look at Amazon, which tends to be the most opaque of the big five – Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft.
While I recommend both books for the curious, I recommend The Upstarts specifically for entrepreneurs whose startups may be headed into local, state, federal or even international thickets of regulations. Stone provides an inside look at how the CEOs of Uber, AirBnB, Lyft and other companies dealt with regulators. There are plenty of both do’s and don’t based on the experiences of these companies when dealing with entrenched competitors who have relied on regulators to keep their quasi-monopoly positions. However, there’s a spectrum from the extreme aggressiveness of Uber to the “nice guy” approach of Lyft and you will have to decide where to position your company.
One seemingly offhand remark from Travis Kalanick, former CEO of Uber, to another entrepreneur caught my attention as a mentor. As mentors we very often give advice. Travis’s advice to another entrepreneur was “Always ask for the story behind the advice. Often the story will be more valuable to you.”
That’s advice I intend to take as a mentor, and advice you should take as an entrepreneur. To find out the story behind this advice you can also read Wild Ride, Inside Uber’s Quest for World Domination by Adam Lashinsky. See my Nice Guys finish last- right post.