Uber and Airbnb have been amongst the most revolutionary companies in the latest phase of business innovations emanating from Silicon Valley. These are very different companies to previous phase unicorns such as Google or Facebook, with a totally different set of founders. Uber and Airbnb’s founders- Travis Kalanick and Brian Chesky respectively- both got inspiration from unexpected sources before leveraging those ideas. They had tried multiple ventures in the past but succeeded with this one. Both ran into regulatory hurdles from the word go from established industries such as taxi companies or hoteliers. So while the founders at previous tech companies could rely on the superiority of their service to thus be introverted and shy, Kalanick and Chesky had to be charismatic, extroverted and manage politics. They also struggled at getting investments in the first round, but started attracting them later on. Their near simultaneous rise was possible largely due to the convergence of smart-phones, mobile apps, GPS, ease in digital payments and availability of social media to conduct effective digital marketing by tracking real customer profiles. Both these companies ran into safety issues at the outset but eventually got things correct. While their ambitions may not seem as revolutionary as Amazon’s, it must be noted that these companies are roughly half its age, and at that stage Amazon hadn’t yet ventured into innovations such as Kindle or Prime. Uber has already started experimenting with driverless cars while Airbnb has launched Experiences and Trips to establish itself as a full-fledged travel outfit.


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