起底 Uber 创始人 Travis Kalanick

(14:33:21 更新)周末的《纽约时报》用一篇长文试图解释 Uber 创始人 Travis Kalanick 的性格与领导风格,这是一篇关于「野心」的故事,作者引用 与 Travis 相识的风险投资人 Mark Cuban 的话定调:

Travis’s biggest strength is that he will run through a wall to accomplish his goals.....Travis’s biggest weakness is that he will run through a wall to accomplish his goals. That’s the best way to describe him......

一个例子是 Uber 初期的重要转型决定:

UberCab, as it was called at the time, started its service in San Francisco in May 2010. Mr. Camp and Mr. Kalanick picked that name to emphasize the convenience of calling a car on demand from an app. Mr. Kalanick wanted a break from full-time start-up life after running Red Swoosh, so he and Mr. Camp named Ryan Graves, who responded to a call for help on Twitter, as chief executive.

A few months later, Mr. Kalanick changed his mind and took over as UberCab’s chief. He quickly positioned the start-up as an alternative to the taxi industry. At the time, taxi companies had iron grips in many towns. City-by-city regulations required procedures like base stations for cabs, safety measures and other stipulations.

Mr. Kalanick ignored those rules.

“We’re in a political campaign,” he once said at a technology conference, and the candidate is Uber. The opponent is named Taxi, he said, adding a rude descriptive. “Nobody likes him, he’s not a nice character, but he’s so woven into the political machinery and fabric that a lot of people owe him favors.”

另一个案例则是他在公司管理风格上,Travis 极度崇拜亚马逊的管理模式:

Inside Uber, Mr. Kalanick began codifying the pillars of the company’s culture. He particularly admired Amazon, the e-commerce company that espouses 14 leadership principles including “learn and be curious” and “insist on the highest standards.” So he created 14 values for Uber, with tenets such as being “super pumped” and “always be hustlin’.”

而 Travis 最崇拜的真理则是:growth above all else。换句话说,假如这个人或这个方法能给业务带来增长,那么其他一切都不重要,这或许可以解释一切与 Uber 相关的丑闻,《纽约时报》也这样写道:

That meant Uber’s top performers were often promoted and protected. When one general manager, a title for a city-level chief, threw a coffee mug at a subordinate in a fit of rage, the incident was reported to human resources — but there was no follow-up. At the time, Uber’s business in the general manager’s city was strong.

贯穿本文的一个案例则是 Uber 与苹果的对抗,当时 Uber 为了避免中国司机使用 iPhone 恶意注册、刷单,通过在 Uber App 里写入一段永久代码来鉴别该手机是否注册过 Uber(即便是抹去重装系统也不行),这个手段已经触犯了苹果的相关隐私规定,Travis 被要求到苹果总部谈话,《纽约时报》这样描述这番谈话:

......and when Mr. Kalanick arrived at the midafternoon meeting sporting his favorite pair of bright red sneakers and hot-pink socks, Mr. Cook was prepared. “So, I’ve heard you’ve been breaking some of our rules,” Mr. Cook said in his calm, Southern tone. Stop the trickery, Mr. Cook then demanded, or Uber’s app would be kicked out of Apple’s App Store.

For Mr. Kalanick, the moment was fraught with tension. If Uber’s app was yanked from the App Store, it would lose access to millions of iPhone customers — essentially destroying the ride-hailing company’s business. So Mr. Kalanick acceded.

文章的末尾,借用在场的人的话展现了 Travis 当时的状态:

Mr. Kalanick was shaken by Mr. Cook’s scolding, according to a person who saw him after the meeting.

But only momentarily. After all, Mr. Kalanick had faced off against Apple, and Uber had survived. He had lived to fight another day.

机器智能背后的人类临时工

(12:57:23 更新)《连线》杂志的这篇长文讲述了包括 Google 在内的诸多互联网公司雇佣人类来训练机器,但与那些高大上的科学家、工程师相比,这些所谓的机器教练,不过是些低端劳动力,甚至是临时工:

Googlers at the company’s sprawling Mountain View headquarters enjoy a picturesque campus, free gourmet cafeteria food, and rec room games like pool and foosball. That’s a far cry from the life of a typical ad rater. These days, working for the world’s most valuable tech companies can mean luxurious perks and huge paydays. It can also mean toiling away as a temp worker at rote tasks, training these companies’ machines to do the same work.