Skip to main content

Travis Kalanick Still Has A Bizarrely Freudian Understanding Of How IPOs Work

The Uber CEO will wear his promise ring until there isn't a private equity dollar left in the world.

The end of 2016 is looming on the horizon and yet Uber still isn't public.


In something of a departure from its usual behavior, Silicon Valley's biggest tease hasn't raised a billion dollar funding round in months. But it has spent that time cauterizimg the bleeding of its epic misadventure into China and being taught some tough lessons about labor laws. With Snapchat's Evan Spiegel dropping the facade and preparing to go public, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has become the poster child for impish unicorn entrepreneurs that like to play coy with the notion of ever letting the markets get their hands on his precious stock.

And like any practiced coquette trying to keep things spicy, Kalanick likes to show a little ankle now and then. Which is likely why he made a stop at Vanity Fair's New Establishment Summit yesterday. In a conversation with Graydon Carter, Kalanick disclosed that he's never sold a single share of Uber and is so committed to his 'product' that he no longer has a license to drive. But when pressed by Carter on the whole IPO question, Kalanick retreated to his favorite, teen sex analogy stock answer:

Uber boss Travis Kalanick on Wednesday said the seven-year-old ride-hailing company, valued at $68 billion, is still several years away from an initial public offering.
The 40-year-old tech entrepreneur, likening an IPO to “going to the prom,” said he feels Uber is “just starting high school.”

Travis used this odd "prom night" metaphor almost a year ago to the day while appearing at a WSJDLive Conference. In fairness, he said then that Uber was only in 8th grade, which temporally jibes with his equally icky new version making Uber an innocent high school freshman being peer pressured to give it up in the back of a rented limo.

Clearly, Kalanick really loves this bizarre allegory for getting his Ayn Rand-themed car service listed on an exchange, but maybe he shouldn't. Sure, you could easily keep up the narrative of this whole thing by plugging in Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley (ie, the banks inevitably picked to handle Uber's IPO) as cool seniors looking to take out the hot underclassman, but does that make it better?

Don't answer that.

Regardless, it is super strange that Kalanick continues to use this Freudian line of reasoning to present a public case for not going public and allowing his enormous retinue of investors to exit and get something back for the billions upon billions they've poured into his company. IPOs aren't a prom, and Uber isn't an innocent teen being pressured to do something it will regret. That analogy is dumb and gross.

IPOs are a jungle and Uber is a powerful beast... one playing possum and pissing off all the other animals.

Uber boss Kalanick steers around IPO question [NY Post]



Travis Kalanick Decides To Give The Whole "Recognition Of Human Outrage" Thing A Spin

The Uber CEO bows to pressure and exits Trump's business advisory council.


Travis Kalanick Hires Eric Holder To Care About Possibly Rampant Sexism And Harassment At Uber

Uber brings on Obama's former AG to investigate its own, not her, the dude.


Travis Kalanick Should Get Himself His Own Ruth Porat

There should be literally one actionable item on Travis' desk right now.


Travis Kalanick Now Offering Up Arianna Huffington Take His Public Beatings In His Stead

Between naps Arianna will become the public face of Uber, which is a terrible thing to be right now.


Travis Kalanick Embraces His Destiny As A Real Estate Developer

It's beautiful thing to watch a man find his true calling.


According To New Book, Uber Doesn't Really Understand How Going Public Works

We aren't getting a Travis/Elon bromance, but the Uber IPO could still be an entertaining disaster.