Travis Kalanick's first company got sued for $250 billion - so he started a new 'revenge business' that made him a millionaire


uber ceo travis Kalanick


Uber CEO Travis Kalanick at Fortune's Brainstorm conference in June 2013.

Fast Company just published a new profile of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick.


Besides running through Kalanick's youth and his past entrepreneurial endeavors, the complimentary story talks about the company's ambitions in China and its UberPool initiatives.

Writer Max Chafkin spent five months reporting the story and spending tons of time with Kalanick, who has been a bit press-shy in the past year.

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Before Kalanick ever thought of starting the company that would become $51 billion Uber, he was an early employee at a company called Scour. Scour was a peer-to-peer search engine for files, videos, movies, and images, which employed SMB protocol to crawl people's Windows directories, index their files and let others download them. Shawn Fanning, who ended up cofounding Napster, was an early user.

But even though users liked Scour, movie studios and record labels did not. Scour let users download content for free without paying. A bunch of entertainment companies sued Scour for $250 billion. The company was forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.


Almost immediately though, Kalanick started plotting his next company - a "revenge business," he told Fast Company.

"The idea was to take those 33 litigants that sued me and turn them into customers," he told the audience at FailCon, a forum in which founders offer hard-won lessons from their business failures. "So now those dudes who are suing me are paying me."

The company, called RedSwoosh, was a networking software company. RedSwoosh launched in 2000, endured fallout from the post-9/11 stock market crash, and faced difficulty staying afloat at times. But ultimately, RedSwoosh was acquired in 2007 by Akamai for $23 million - $19 million in stock and $4 million in earn-outs.

The sale made Travis Kalanick a millionaire. Later, he'd go on to found Ubercab, the company that would become Uber.

You can read Fast Company's whole profile on Kalanick here.


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