Ep. 008 – Silicon Valley Disrupters with Brad Stone

I’m going to assume that a good portion of you subscribed to the Better Off podcast have used either Uber or Airbnb. I use Uber all the time and it seems like everyone I know has used Airbnb. My producer Mark just used Airbnb for a week in Tokyo and loved it. James Altucher, our guest from the second episode, basically lives full-time in various Airbnb locations.

It’s no exaggeration to say that these companies have almost single-handedly disrupted stodgy industries (taxi/limousine and hotel), become stars of the Silicon Valley venture capital world and made their impact felt across the globe. That’s why we were delighted to have a great conversation with Brad Stone, Bloomberg journalist and author of “The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley are Changing the World.”

Brad defines an upstart as either “a newly successful person” or “someone who does not show proper respect to the established way of doing things” — you’ll need to decide whether or not Travis Kalanick of Uber and Brian Chesky fall into one or both of those categories. They certainly were brash survivors who didn’t create the ideas that made each company successful, but somehow they were able to execute better (more ruthlessly?) than their competitors.

Unlike in his previous book about Amazon, “The Everything Store”, where CEO Jeff Bezos would not talk to him, this time Brad had access to all the key players and he writes a compelling page-turner. He opens the story with the 2008 Obama Inauguration, which founders of both companies were attending.

What lessons have these wildly successful upstarts learned over the past nine years? How have they matured and become better leaders? After reading this book, you’ll have a whole new perspective the next time you ride in an Uber or make an Airbnb reservation.

“Better Off” is sponsored by Betterment.

For a recap of every episode, visit https://www.betterment.com/resources/topics/inside-betterment/better-off-podcast/.

“Better Off” theme music is by Joel Goodman, www.joelgoodman.com.