By Alan Murray and Geoffrey Smith
May 18, 2017

Good morning.

Do you need to be an a**hole to change the world?

That’s the question raised by Adam Lashinsky’s new Fortune piece on Uber’s Travis Kalanick. Unlike previous tech pioneers, who were competing in largely virgin territory, Kalanick took on a century-old business hardened by regulation, unions, local politics and tradition. To succeed, he used an approach that many would say was, well, aggressive. In the process, Kalanick became, in Lashinsky’s words, something of a “corporate villain for the ages”—“seen by many as a brash, win-at-all-costs entrepreneur who’ll flout any rule to succeed, as well as a bro-in-chief enabler presiding over a sexist corporate culture.”

Lashinsky takes a three-hour walk with Kalanick through the streets of San Francisco, and along the way learns the Uber founder has something of an introspective side. He refers to his now-famous confrontations—such as the video showing him arguing with an Uber driver—as “little moments of arrogance when I say something provocative.” And he shows an engineer’s interest in reconstructing how he is perceived by others: “Understanding whether it’s real or not, like do I trigger something in certain people that’s related to something I didn’t do? Or am I an a**hole? I’d love to know… I don’t think I’m an a**hole. I’m pretty sure I’m not.”

Of course, Kalanick isn’t the first tech founder with unpleasant edges to his personality—think Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos. Or for that matter, think McDonald’s CEO Ray Kroc, whose story was compellingly told by the recent movie The Founder. In it, Kroc is quoted saying: “If any of my competitors were drowning, I’d stick a hose in their mouth and turn on the water.”

Is that really necessary for success? I’ll leave it for others to answer. But Lashinsky’s story is worth the read. It’s excerpted from his new book Wild Ride, Inside Uber’s Quest for World Domination, and it is the cover story of the June issue of Fortune. You can find it this morning here.

More news below.

Alan Murray


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