Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber (Hardcover)
New York Times and Wall Street Journal Bestseller
A New York Times technology correspondent presents the dramatic story of Uber, the Silicon Valley startup at the center of one of the great venture capital power struggles of our time.
In June 2017, Travis Kalanick, the hard-charging CEO of Uber, was ousted in a boardroom coup that capped a brutal year for the transportation giant. Uber had catapulted to the top of the tech world, yet for many came to symbolize everything wrong with Silicon Valley.
Award-winning New York Times technology correspondent Mike Isaac’s Super Pumped presents the dramatic rise and fall of Uber, set against an era of rapid upheaval in Silicon Valley. Backed by billions in venture capital dollars and led by a brash and ambitious founder, Uber promised to revolutionize the way we move people and goods through the world. A near instant “unicorn,” Uber seemed poised to take its place next to Amazon, Apple, and Google as a technology giant.
What followed would become a corporate cautionary tale about the perils of startup culture and a vivid example of how blind worship of startup founders can go wildly wrong. Isaac recounts Uber’s pitched battles with taxi unions and drivers, the company’s toxic internal culture, and the bare-knuckle tactics it devised to overcome obstacles in its quest for dominance. With billions of dollars at stake, Isaac shows how venture capitalists asserted their power and seized control of the startup as it fought its way toward its fateful IPO.
Based on hundreds of interviews with current and former Uber employees, along with previously unpublished documents, Super Pumped is a page-turning story of ambition and deception, obscene wealth, and bad behavior that explores how blistering technological and financial innovation culminated in one of the most catastrophic twelve-month periods in American corporate history.
About the Author
Mike Isaac is a technology reporter at the New York Times, whose Uber coverage won the Gerald Loeb Award for distinguished business reporting. He writes frequently about Uber, Facebook, and other Silicon Valley giants for the Times, and appears often on CNBC and MSNBC. He lives in San Francisco.
The tale of Uber, the queen of the so-called ‘unicorns,’ is a parable about power—and the lengths to which some startup founders will go to amass it and hold onto it. Aside from being a delicious read, Mike Isaac’s account is also teeming with new revelations that will shock and outrage you.
— John Carreyrou, author of Bad Blood
[Isaac’s] meticulously reported account of Uber’s trajectory avoids the easy paths.
— Nitasha Tiku
Isaac is great at the ticktock of events as they unfold, but his best work comes when he steps back to examine the bigger picture.
— Leslie Berlin
[Isaac] spins a compelling yarn. . . [Super Pumped] is no dry business profile but a tale that Isaac has deeply reported yet still made accessible.
— William Nottingham
A devastating expose.
— John Arlidge
The first thing to know about Mike Isaac’s new book is that it’s wildly entertaining. But it’s also a very important read, because Isaac shows how Uber’s messy inner workings and dramatic power struggles have made a company that, for better and worse, is now part of the fabric of modern life.
— Bethany McLean, author of The Smartest Guys in the Room
Travis Kalanick changed an entire industry, made billions of dollars, and made a company into a verb, and he did so by destroying anything and anyone who stepped in his way. A riveting read about bro culture gone awry.
— Nick Bilton, special correspondent, Vanity Fair
A gripping, masterfully reported book that offers an essential window into what can go wrong with Silicon Valley’s growth-at-any-cost culture.
— Sheelah Kolhatkar, author of Black Edge
Reading more like a soap opera than a business book. . . Super Pumped goes beyond the business profile to reveal something deeper and darker. The Uber of Super Pumped—most likely still the Uber of today—is not just a business; it’s a Beast.
— B. David Zarley
A detailed, unsparing account of entrepreneurial arrogance, breathtaking excess, and cutthroat competition at one of the tech industry’s most vaunted, loathed, and socially transformative companies. In tracking Uber’s turbulent trajectory and Kalanick’s eventual fall from grace, Mike Isaac illuminates—and indicts—some of the business practices, cultural values, and mythologies shaping our new social infrastructure.
— Anna Wiener, author of Uncanny Valley
— Edward Niedermeyer
Many people have an Uber story – this is the Uber story, and it’s a corporate nightmare. Once poised to take its place beside Amazon, Facebook and Google as a blue-chip tech giant, Uber’s disastrous IPO was the result of ruthless ambition, misconduct and billions of dollars gone awry.
[E]xpansive and lucid. …the definitive Uber book.
— Noah Kulwin
Mike Isaac’s new book about Uber provides many lessons for aspiring entrepreneurs, technologists and elected officials, and for society as a whole.
— Dylan Schleicher