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Ep. 008: Silicon Valley Disruptors with Brad Stone

What lessons have wildly successful upstarts Uber and Airbnb learned over the past nine years? Brad Stone, Bloomberg journalist and author of "The Upstarts," tells us—this week on "Better Off."

Articles by Jill Schlesinger

By Jill Schlesinger, CFP®
  |  Published: February 23, 2017

This article originally appeared on Jill Schlesinger’s LinkedIn

I’m going to assume that a good portion of you who have 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 of Airbnb 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, 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 more Silicon Valley updates from Brad, you can connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.

The opinions stated on the Better Off podcast are those of the host, Jill Schlesinger, and her guests, and not those of Betterment or its employees. Any third-party links provided are offered as a matter of convenience and are not intended to imply that Betterment endorses, or is affiliated with the owners of or any information contained on those sites, unless expressly stated otherwise. Listen to a preview and subscribe to “Better Off” here.

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