Ten questions: Travis Kalanick

Uber CEO on flying cars, managing a US$60 billion company and why car ownership is his biggest competitor

When are we going to see flying cars in Dubai?

It is five to ten years away, but remember that we're not building these vehicles – there are other companies making flying vehicles, ranging from Airbus to various start-ups. We're just trying to make sure that when those vehicles are up in the air, you can just push a button and fly.

Are you planning on testing driverless cars in the UAE?

We are talking to everyone we can about self-driving cars.

Is Uber having talks with the Dubai government about it?

Self-driving technology is the future, but nobody knows exactly when it will become a reality. But I am pretty sure it is going to happen sometime before the year 2030.

How do manage such a large company?

I have a list of problems that need to be solved, and another of things that need to be invented. I just work my way down that list starting first thing in the morning. It has been that way ever since we started Uber.

Do you look at Careem and see it as your biggest competitor in the region?

I think that the concept of car ownership is our largest competitor.

But they have more drivers on the road? Surely, that makes them a contender.

There are a lot of alternative facts out there, but what I would say is that in most cities in the region – my understanding is – that we are serving more passengers, and we have more drivers. We believe that's the case because we believe we serve our customers better. And if you serve everyone better, and the customer feels that you are the best, then you get all the customers. Ultimately, we all compete for customers by serving them to the best of our ability, and we think that competition makes Uber better. But when it comes to strict numbers and things like this, you need to be very careful about getting facts versus some sort of alternative numbers.

How many drivers does Uber have on the roads in the UAE?

I don't have any data that we can address. But again, I think that this obsession with which service is bigger – in terms of numbers – is redundant.

Well, Careem says it will be the largest mover of goods and people by 2030. What about Uber?

I can't answer that. We've only been here for six years.

Any plans to go public with an IPO?

My comments on Uber having an IPO are super clear – we don't intend for that to happen anytime soon.

The Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia is investing US$3.5 billion. Does that mean you are talking to local investors?

We have a number of investors across the region, and we are always looking to partner with various people locally, that will help us advocate ride sharing and make mobility in cities in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and the entire region easier.

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