If Then

Inside Uber

A closer look at Uber during the Travis Kalanick years.


Episode Notes

New York Times technology reporter Mike Issac discusses his new book, Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber, which traces Uber’s rapid rise and fall under co-founder Travis Kalanick. Isaac and host Aaron Mak talk about Uber’s fraught relationship with the media, how public perception of the company enabled one of its competitors to stave off extinction, the necessary paranoia required to investigate the company, and how Kalanick’s particular style of leadership helped transform transportation around the world—for better or worse.

After the interview, Shannon Palus joins the show for this week’s edition of “Don’t Close My Tabs.”

Podcast production by Justin D. Wright.

Stories discussed on the show:

Shannon’s Tab: “When I Took My Zipcar Into the Wilderness”

Aaron’s Tab: “We Pretend It’s 2007-2012 Internet”

If you have a question or comment, you can email us at ifthen@slate.com.

If Then is presented by Slate and Future Tense, a collaboration among Arizona State University, New America, and Slate. Future Tense explores the ways emerging technologies affect society, policy, and culture. To read more, follow us on Twitter and sign up for our weekly newsletter

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About the Show

If Then is a show about technology, society, and power. Each week, the hosts take you on a lively tour of the tech news that actually matters, from fake news in your Facebook feed to the algorithms that want your job to the Uber drivers who want a job with benefits. With news-making interviews of key tech-industry figures, fascinating academics, and top tech journalists, we explore not only how the technology that’s shaping our world works, but the ideas, ideologies, incentives, and biases that underlie it.

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  • Aaron Mak is a Slate staff writer covering technology.