How do you keep the poster child of unicorns from falling right off the cliff?

Category: Television and Streaming


A new anthology series titled Super Pumped is slated to premier Sunday, February 27 on Showtime. The first installment Super Pumped: The Battle For Uber is based on the nonfiction book by the New York Times reporter Mike Issac and follows Travis Kalanick, a hard-charging and messianic Uber co-founder and former CEO, in his quest to build Uber into one of the world’s most valuable private companies.

The Silicon Valley elite, particularly unicorns (privately held startup companies valued at over $1 billion), stops at nothing to attain and keep their positions and power, but Travis Kalanick (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) really takes the cake when it comes to his cult leader-like maneuvers to establish and expand his kingdom. Drunk with his unprecedented successes and hungry for the world domination, Travis alternately bullies and charms not only his followers (his entourage and employees who drank the Kool-Aid), but also his army (Uber drivers he exploited) into blind and complete subservience. Travis is hard-wired to deceive, manipulate, brainwash by sweet-talking, and obliterate whoever and whatever get in the way of his grandiose visions.

The only person who calls out on Travis’ unbecoming conduct as an eminent founder is Bill Gurley (Kyle Chandler), the venture capitalist who attempts to keep Uber afloat in the early days. Despite Bill’s sincere efforts to guide, counsel, and intervene, the Jeff Bezos fanboy becomes more enmeshed in a growing megalomania, sloppy corporate governance and atrocious stewardship. When John Zimmer (John Magaro), Lyft founder, points out that Bill is enabling him to believe the world owes him win after win with no strings attached, he realizes that this is no longer a classic Silicon Valley story  — a founder and funder at each other’s throats over whose ideas are better. Bill has a tough decision to make!

”There is a lot to learn from this story and I think people should be aware of what goes on behind the curtains,” said Chandler in the virtual press conference held on February 23. Right on! Now that I know how the sausage gets made, I’m proud to announce neither have I ever used Uber nor does my investment portfolio include unethical or predatory companies like Uber. Sadly, my blacklist of companies I shouldn’t do business with is getting longer every day while my world is getting smaller and smaller. I need to be conscious about who I give money to, though; the winning at all costs mentality is damaging to our humanity. Aren’t we sick and tired of those revolutionaries who turn into fascists once they get into power?

Super Pumped: The Battle For Uber premieres Sunday, February 27, 2022 on Showtime.

About the Author

Meg Mimura is a TV critic who actually watches shows zealously in search of thought-provoking and paradigm shifting human drama worth our precious time. She is a member of Television Critics Association. Follow her on Twitter.