On a deserted trading floor, at the Tokyo headquarters of a Swiss bank, Tom Hayes sat rapt before a bank of eight computer screens. Collar askew, pale features pinched, blond hair mussed from a habit of pulling at it when he was deep in thought, the British trader was even more disheveled than usual. I
Jordan Kretchmer remembers what Travis Kalanick was like before Uber was Uber.
Kretchmer was a 25-year-old college dropout with a lot of ideas, and Kalanick had even more. He was in his early thirties, an engineer who talked like a sales guy, smart as hell and high on life. He wore a cowboy hat and referred to himself as the Wolf, after the cold-blooded, coolly rational fixer played by Harvey Keitel in Pulp Fiction. He was tireless—always on the move, always thirsty.
They met in 2009 at South by Southwest and bonded at an all-night "jam session" about the future of the Internet. That night in Austin was a sort of satellite version of the ’round-the-clock ideas salon Kalanick routinely held at his three-bedroom house in San Francisco. These gatherings were full of young people like Kretchmer who had come up through the wreckage of the first dotcom bust, before jobs in tech were thrown around like free T-shirts at a launch party, before venture capitalists regularly talked about startups as if they were mythical creatures. They were entrepreneurs who knew about hustle, who saw opportunity even in the muck of a desperate economy and were going to take advantage. This is what drew them to Kalanick, and vice versa.
Although Kalanick had been a startup guy since high school, he was a grinder, not a mogul. He had made enough on his last one, RedSwoosh, to buy a house and do a bit of angel investing. Uber, the on-demand transportation app that he cofounded with Garrett Camp in 2009, was still more or less a toy, a personal limo service for the founders and their friends in San Francisco. When Camp, who’d bought back his old company StumbleUpon at about the same time, asked Kalanick to run Uber full-time, Kalanick said no. Uber was "supercrazy freakin’ small," Kalanick tells me when we meet in July, the first time he had given an in-depth interview this year. "I was not ready to get in the game and give 100% or 150%," he says.
Back in those days, if Kalanick liked you, he’d invest in your company, and if he thought your idea was big enough, he’d show up at your office one or two days a week and work for free. Kretchmer hadn’t screwed up the courage to pitch Kalanick that night in Austin, but he met Kalanick later that year to pitch him ideas. The one he was most excited about was called Tweetbios, and it basically gave Twitter users an expanded home page.
In another sign that Wall Street sees potential in Bitcoin technology, Visa, Nasdaq, Citi and other industry players invested $30 million in Chain.com, a blockchain developer platform that serves an enterprise market.
FOLLOWING IN THE footsteps of so many others, Silicon Valley darling Slack, which makes a much-loved chat app for businesses, released its first diversity report today. Also following in the footsteps of so many others in tech, the results aren’t good: A vast majority of Slack’s employees—70 percent—are white. And 61 percent of the company is male.
Still, you have to give Slack some credit. The company at least appears to be trying, and trying from the start instead of waiting years or decades into its existence to recognize that diversity is a serious issue. “It’s relatively easy for us to move the lever a small bit right now to make a significant change in our trajectory,” said Anne Toth, vice-president of people and policy, and Stewart Butterfield, Slack’s CEO, in a blog post describing the company’s diversity efforts. “If us doing this sooner rather than later yields a better result that alone will be a good thing for us to have done at Slack and, hopefully, for the industry at large.”
Slack says it made the issue of diversity a priority while the company was still in its infancy, hiring an outside diversity consultant back when it employed only 75 people. It also says it’s begun examining its compensation data to make sure pay gaps don’t exist among its male and female workers. And it is making a concerted effort to be vigilant in its data collection and analysis to make real-time adjustments when recruiting new employees or updating its workplace policies.
Being in business with a partner is truly like a marriage, especially if
you decide to dissolve the partnership. Similar to a divorce, assets
have to be divided up, and more than likely there may be some breakup
Macy’s M 1.32% plans to close between 35 and 40 of its namesake department stores early next year, a move that comes as the retailer’s sales growth has stalled and many shoppers have stopped visiting the malls that are home to its stores.