Uber (NYSE:UBER), which is both a source of scandal and also a radical gamechanger in the field of urban mobility, will be a subject of a new TV show on Showtime based on the book Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber by New York Times technology reporter Mike Isaac.
Written and produced by Brian Koppelman and David Levien, the team behind the hit show Billions, the show will follow Travis Kalanick’s path from Uber’s inception, to becoming a Goliath on the world stage, to Kalanick’s eventual ousting in 2017.
“The story of Uber is rich in plot twists, one-of-a-kind personalities and important implications for corporate America,” said Jana Winograde, co-president of entertainment for Showtime. “It is a case study of ingenuity and insanity, and there are no writers better suited than Brian and David to explore this business and the people who drive it, literally and metaphorically.”
The Showtime series isn’t the only project in the works: Uber is the subject of a feature film from Good Universe based on whistleblower Susan Fowler’s reporting of the company’s allegedly toxic corporate culture.
It’s Easy to be Vindictive About Uber’s Flaws
For close followers of the ride-sharing sector, the source material for this series-in-progress, Super Pumped didn’t provide much new content aside from the occasional fly on the wall reconstruction of meetings that were previously secret.
By no means is Uber a perfect company, and Kalanick is not a saint. But Kalanick was effective. He created a new word that is commonplace in everyone’s vernacular; he revolutionized ubran mobility for the citizens of many of the world’s cities reducing the need to own a car (and providing another option for a safe ride home after a big night out). He also convinced due dilligence-obsessed venture capitalists to fund an enterprise that many cities deemed to illegal. All the while, of course, inspiring a legion of competitors.
That being said, the book this series is based on came off as vindictive — obsessed with criticisms of “bro culture” and allegations of toxicity within its corporate culture — instead of being a thoughtful case study of a revolutionary company with its share of flaws. There’s a big temptation for the TV show to be more of the same, given the artistic license the medium provides. It’s likely that the fictionalized on-screen avatar of Kalanick will reflect more on his vices and less on his virtues as one of the most transformative business leaders of the decade.