Exclusive: Instacart Cuts Staff, Curbs Hiring in Run-up to IPORead Now

Bill Gurley and Travis Kalanick. Photos by Bloomberg

How Kalanick-Gurley Tensions Shaped Uber of Today

Photo: Bill Gurley and Travis Kalanick. Photos by Bloomberg

In the run-up to Uber’s IPO, the company presented a new face to Wall Street. Two relatively new executives, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and CFO Nelson Chai, appeared at investor meetings around the country. Former CEO Travis Kalanick wasn’t even on the stock exchange podium the day of the offering. But it was the relationship between Mr. Kalanick and investor Bill Gurley—both of whom are now peripheral to the company—that indelibly shaped Uber.

That becomes clear in this account of the tensions between Messrs. Kalanick and Gurley, based on interviews with Uber executives, investors and others involved.

From the time Mr. Gurley’s firm, Benchmark, invested in Uber in 2011, he and Mr. Kalanick battled over a variety of issues, most prominently Mr. Kalanick’s aggressive growth strategy and his preference to avoid “big company” practices such as well-staffed finance and legal departments with public market experience. As far back as 2015 and 2016, Mr. Kalanick rebuffed suggestions from Mr. Gurley that Uber prepare for an IPO as a way of instilling more discipline in the company’s management practices.

In their discussions, Mr. Kalanick didn’t try to hide his disdain for Mr. Gurley’s ideas. Early on, Mr. Gurley repeatedly questioned steps Uber was taking to expand ride-hailing geographically, launch a food delivery business, and fight bigger rivals in China. Mr. Kalanick’s response invariably was to dismiss Mr. Gurley’s concerns by saying “Anyway, we’re doing it,” said a person who saw some of the discussions. Mr. Kalanick sometimes would add comments like: “Why are we talking about this?” Later, Mr. Gurley asked Mr. Kalanick to upgrade the management team.

Get access to exclusive coverage
Read deeply reported stories from the largest newsroom in tech.
Latest Articles
 
Exclusive startups
Instacart Cuts Staff, Curbs Hiring in Run-up to IPO
Instacart CEO Fidji Simo. Photo by Bloomberg.
Instacart has been letting go of staff, slowing hiring and curbing other expenses as it heads toward a public listing, when the grocery-delivery company will try to convince public investors that it can maintain its growth—and make a profit—as the economy slows. The San Francisco startup over the last two months has fired some of its more than 3,000 workers after holding midyear...
Latest Briefs
 
Twitch’s Creators Chief Departs Amid Payout Cutbacks
Amazon Informs Employees It Miscalculated Raises
Google CEO Addresses Employee Questions about Cost-Cutting
Stay in the know
Receive a summary of the day's top tech news—distilled into one email.
Access on the go
View stories on our mobile app and tune into our weekly podcast.
Join live video Q&A’s
Deep-dive into topics like startups and autonomous vehicles with our top reporters and other executives.
Enjoy a clutter-free experience
Read without any banner ads.
Data Point startups venture capital
Venture Firms’ $290 Billion ‘Dry Powder’ is About to Revive Startup Funding
Startup founders should expect a tidal wave of venture capital interest next year as a record level of dry powder pressures VC funds to step up their investment pace, according to a new analysis of these cash reserves.
Illustration by Matheus Costa.
apple crypto
How Apple’s App Store Policies Squeeze NFT Startups
Non-fungible tokens, like much of the crypto world, are in regulators’ and lawmakers’ crosshairs.
Exclusive amazon entertainment
Netflix’s New Ad Chief Has an Appetite for Danger
Before Netflix hired Jeremi Gorman as its new advertising chief to bring growth back to its struggling business, Gorman had compiled a colorful résumé of professional and personal accomplishments.
Art by Mike Sullivan
True Value google amazon
The Haziness in Microsoft’s Cloud Numbers
Here’s a quick question for enterprise software acolytes out there: which tech giant is bigger in cloud, Microsoft or Amazon?
Patrick Collison. Photo by Getty Images.
Exclusive startups venture capital
Stripe’s Early Stock Awards Could Spur IPO Plans
Stripe founders John and Patrick Collison have indicated the payments software pioneer, valued in its last fundraising at $95 billion, is in no rush to go public.
Art by Clark Miller
The Big Read crypto
‘What Am I Going to Do Now?’: Fired Crypto Workers Weigh Life After the Boom
On July 14, James Hu was sitting in his “fabulously expensive” apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.