General Counsels

Super Pumped!

You have your pick Silicon-Valley-Startup-Charismatic-Entrepreneur-Rise-and-Crash shows across streaming platforms. And more are on the way.

These shows can be hypnotic – a riveting 'underdog triumphs' success story for four episodes, a spectacular immolation over the next four. There are, obviously, lawyers all over the place. Good, bad, indifferent, understanding, belligerent, cold blooded, totally invested, competent, and not so competent.

One of the shows is Super Pumped – the story of Uber and its founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick. Three episodes are out so far, the last two highlight the importance of a General Counsel by – apparently accurately – showing what happens when there’s a bad one in place during a crisis.

In Uber’s early years it was trying to get traction in its hometown, San Francisco. The city is not enthused. The head of the city’s transportation has a vested interest in seeing that the existing pay ‘a fortune for a medallion to drive a cab’ system stays intact. He goes after Uber, fining them daily for every ride, every car, simply existing.

The fines and penalties pile up. Sheriffs serve cease and desist papers and threaten to arrest Uber’s officers. The general counsel is flummoxed, he’s a ‘startup and IPO’ lawyer. He waffles between paying the fines and working ‘something out’ with the city and giving up.

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