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February 19, 2016

Is the End Near? Think About Uber 'This' and 'That'

I had a great conversation on the plane with a fellow father of daughters. Both of us have children who have moved to California to be part of the Beverly Hillbillies 2.0 know as Silicon Valley.

A friend in the VC community in the valley joked with me that if you want to join the billion-dollar startup club (currently at 146), all you have to do is figure out “something you parents” used to do for you and put the word “Uber” in front of it.

And with me recalling that conversation, my row partner and I started riffing.

Uber Food Cutting: Miss the days when your parents cut your meat? The Uber drive will come over and cut if for you. Don’t like crust?  We can cut that off too!

Uber Baby Sitting: Any parent that discovered that driving a baby in the car seat could end the crying, now has the option of calling an Uber driver and having baby driven around on your behalf. Parents do not have to drive along.

And on we went.

Then at the Assist and NC Riot event in Raleigh, I heard a VC say something that I will call Uber Canary:

Uber Canary: The kiss of death when the startup stops calling itself the “Uber of this or that.” In effect this means the VC’s and executives have come to the end of their dreams and reality has set in. Like a canary in the coalmine it hastens a quick exodus and warns of collapse or a shutting down in the near term.

LinkedIn is the latest Uber canary, and candidly I think the problem may be that the call for innovation may have hurt it in the long run. While I was a religious user of LinkedIn, I found the endorsement from connections to be random and counter-productive. Like a vein you follow too long in a mine, the goal now is to return to the core as soon as possible.

The funny thing is that this comes and goes:

We are the Google of …

We are the Skype of ….

We are the Facebook …

Because one day it will be ‘Uber over.’

P.S.: I wonder how Lyft refers to itself? 


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