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What I Learned On A Long Walk With Uber’s CEO

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick Attends The Third Netease Future Technology ConferenceUber CEO Travis Kalanick Attends The Third Netease Future Technology Conference
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick delivers a speech at the Third Netease Future Technology Conference on June 28, 2016 in Beijing, China. Wang K'aichicn — VCG/VCG via Getty Images

A couple years ago, when I started working on a book about Uber, I was fairly confident it was going to be a good story. I knew it already was a revolutionary example of how a startup could embrace previously unheard of technology (smartphones and attendant app stores) and go global at a never-before-seen pace. I knew there was controversy aplenty to keep the story lively. And I knew in Travis Kalanick Uber had a central character that would hold readers’ attention and then some.

I had no idea everything I thought was true about Uber would be amplified by orders of magnitude.

Today, Fortune releases an exclusive excerpt from my book, Wild Ride: Inside Uber’s Quest for World Domination, which will be released this Tuesday, May 23rd. I hope you’ll enjoy the excerpt, which takes you into the mindset of Kalanick as he’s about to turn 40, about to bail out of Uber’s costly investment in China, and about to slammed by more controversy over several months than the previous six years combined.

Reporting and writing this book has been a wild ride for me too. But the excerpt we are publishing today features a long walk I took with Kalanick. What he says about himself on this walk might surprise you.

Another surprise is what he told me about another person with whom he regularly walked the same route. I later learned that this person was Anthony Levandowski, the ex-Google engineer currently at the heart of Uber’s legal fight with Alphabet’s (GOOGL) Waymo self-driving car project. As I mentioned the other day, a federal judge recently ordered Uber to provide Waymo a list of anyone at Uber who ever discussed a certain kind of sensor technology with Levandowski. Kalanick told me he walked for hours with Levandowski, learning the self-driving-car technology business from him. (Mike Isaac of The New York Times echoes this walking anecdote in his coverage.)

If I’m reading this correctly, the judge is saying that Waymo can depose Kalanick and call him as a witness to explain what they talked about in conversations for which only the two of them would have been present.

This is going to be a wild ride too.

Adam Lashinsky