Listen free for 30 days

Super Pumped

The Battle for Uber
Narrated by: Holter Graham, Mike Isaac
Length: 12 hrs and 52 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (10 ratings)

£7.99/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime

Summary

A New York Times technology correspondent presents the dramatic rise and fall of Uber, set against the rapid upheaval in Silicon Valley during the mobile era. 

In June 2017, Travis Kalanick, the hard-charging CEO of Uber, was ousted in a boardroom coup that capped a brutal year for the transportation giant. Uber had catapulted to the top of the tech world yet for many came to symbolize everything wrong with Silicon Valley. In the tradition of Brad Stone’s Everything Store and John Carreyrou’s Bad Blood, award-winning investigative reporter Mike Isaac’s Super Pumped delivers a gripping account of Uber’s rapid rise, its pitched battles with taxi unions and drivers, the company’s toxic internal culture and the bare-knuckle tactics it devised to overcome obstacles in its quest for dominance. 

Based on hundreds of interviews with current and former Uber employees, along with previously unpublished documents, Super Pumped is a pause-resisting story of ambition and deception, obscene wealth and bad behavior that explores how blistering technological and financial innovation culminated in one of the most catastrophic 12-month periods in American corporate history.

©2019 Mike Isaac (P)2019 Audible, Inc.

What members say

Average customer ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    6
  • 4 Stars
    2
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    7
  • 4 Stars
    1
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    0

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    6
  • 4 Stars
    3
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0
Sort by:
  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Sanctimonious and lightweight

Spoiler. At the time of publication, Uber hasn't collapsed.
It is still running, globally, more or less as it has done, albeit with a politer management team. There has been no apocalypse. However much Mike Isaacs might wish it were different, Uber is (as yet) no Theranos, Madoff or Enron, and Isaacs devotes little attention to the question of whether it might be, which to me is the question he should be asking.

It is hardly news that Travis Kalanick is an aggressive, unscrupulous and unpleasant individual, and that he cultivated an unpleasant macho culture that uber is still struggling to throw off - isaacs' long since published journalism for the NYT has attested to that - but that is the main allegation of this book. It is thin, prurient, sanctimonious gruel.

If you didn't know that, you'll get it in spades here - but it is no accident or fluke that uber/lyft has revolutionised a notoriously protectionist, inefficient and reform-proof industry. It is a good idea, and it works. Whether it is a 65bn business is another matter.

The irony is that uber's financial fortunes have markedly declined *since* Kalanick was defenestrated - as a hurried epilogue notes, without pausing to consider why this might be so - and you are left wondering whether Isaacs has spent his energy being so righteously indignant at people saying horrid things in team meetings that he hasn't noticed the real question: is Uber a good business? Does its business model even work? What kind of collective hysteria gave it a 65 billion valuation in the first place? What could possibly justify that?

Isaacs is so, outraged at obnoxious interpersonal behaviour, seems to have missed the main story here.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great book, Mike knows this story better than anyone

Really enjoyable book, I’ve been following Mike for years, and have seen a lot of what he writes about, albeit at a smaller scale, happening everywhere in the industry. Great story, writing, and well reported.

Sort by:
  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Benji
  • Benji
  • 09-09-19

A forced narrative and a bad version of Bad Blood

Unlike John Carreyrou's "Bad Blood" which was investigated extensively to try to found out the truth about Theranos, Super Pumped felt like a narrative that was formed prior to writing and then investigated to try to have the story fit the narrative.

The book felt like one big opinion piece against Uber -- it had an overwhelmingly negative tone against tech companies, members at Uber and VC firms. There wasn't a cohesive story -- at times I felt like I was reading a book about Uber and then there'd be tangents about Google and how bad VC firms were. I was interested in learning about the story behind Uber but all I got was an amalgamation of negative news stories that were already widely known against the company.

If you hate the company Uber, then this book is likely the perfect book to read as it will feed your negative viewpoint of the company. But if you are indifferent and are interested in reading an unbiased view to learn about the company and it's history, this likely isn't a great book for you.

The book had a lot of potential but ultimately I was let down.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for David Noble
  • David Noble
  • 05-09-19

A bit hysterical

The book seems breathlessly negative and the narrator sounds like the voiceover from a bad discovery channel documentary - reading the whole thing in a false excitement announcer voice. Story has a lot of potential so I'm disappointed.

10 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for TC
  • TC
  • 08-09-19

Fantastic Investigative Reporting

I've been following Mike Isaac on Twitter for a couple years, and he has become one of the most entertaining figures in my Twitter timeline, both for his humor and his reporting. I preordered this book based on my enthusiasm for his Tweets and NY Times stories, and was not disappointed. If you enjoyed Carreyrou's Bad Blood, then Isaac's investigation into another (in)famous Silicon Valley company will also be a treat for you. I never had a desire to watch a movie about Travis Kalanick, but after finishing Super Pumped I think a film adaptation would be fantastic. Some of the most dramatic moments in the history of Uber would make for great movie scenes, especially with Isaac's masterful storytelling.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for IB
  • IB
  • 15-09-19

Great story, poor recording

both narrators' voices suffer from high audio distortion. e.g. the first narrator clicks often and the main narrator sounds like he's in a cave. would benefit from audio remastering.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Dana Ress
  • Dana Ress
  • 15-09-19

Great book. not the best narrator but still good

I sort of wish I'd bought the physical book. the narrator is really annoying at times, and even mispronounces common business terms. Mike still did a great job on the book overall.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Edward carter
  • Edward carter
  • 13-09-19

Well told story

This is an incredible story and I was impressed at the detail of the author. There were a few moments where the author was unable to hide his personal views on certain leaders of the company, but overall I really enjoyed the performance and writing.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Anonymous User
  • Anonymous User
  • 11-09-19

Definitely Worth My Time

I'm a big fan of in depth stories on business and this definitely didn't disappoint. Very well put together and thought out. The narrator also gave a great reading. I didn't follow Uber as these stories were developing and was able to follow along very easily.