Benner on Tech: Who Deserves Credit for Uber?

Katie Benner is a Bloomberg View columnist who writes about technology, innovation, and the cult and culture of Silicon Valley. She lives in San Francisco.
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First Mark Zuckerberg and the Winklevii. Now Travis Kalanick and Kevin Halpern.

Halpern filed a lawsuit this week claiming that while he was developing an on-demand car service company called Celluride in 2006, he shared office space with Kalanick, who was working on a totally different company. Lo and behold, Kalanick started Uber a few years later and the rest, as they say, is bitterly contentious history.

This is in direct conflict with the bougie Uber origin story that we all know by now: Kalanick and co-founder Garrett Camp couldn’t get a cab in Paris, and they decided to find a way to never not get a cab again. (Camp is named in the suit, along with Kalanick and a few early investors.)

Here’s my prediction: Despite Halpern’s lawsuit and his strangely soothing video statement, his case goes nowhere, and Uber continues to thrive. But maybe it’ll herald a new startup paradigm: Behind every great company, there’s a lawsuit claiming it was someone else’s idea.

Weekend Reading

** In the excerpt from his book “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future,” Bloomberg Businessweek’s Ashlee Vance explains how SpaceX almost killed Tesla.

**Wired’s Joshuah Bearman and Tomer Hanuka are back with Part II of “The Rise & Fall of Silk Road.” (Part I is here.)

A Notable Non-Tech Thing

The S&P 500 closed at an all-time high yesterday, led by a rally in tech stocks. (Bloomberg)

Ventureland

Reddit is battling against abuse and harassment by having employees evaluate and respond to complaints that are emailed to contact@reddit.com, which could lead to some users being banned. (Wall Street Journal)

Snapchat will offer weekly baseball-related content from Major League Baseball. (Wall Street Journal)

Aspect Ventures raised about $150 million for its first investment fund. (New York Times)

Andreessen Horowitz partner Benedict Evans argues it’s time to stop thinking about mobile as limited when compared to the desktop experience and says, “it's actually the PC that has the limited, basic, cut-down version of the Internet."

People and Personnel Moves

Tim Armstrong, AOL’s CEO, could get more than $200 million when his company sells to Verizon. (Bloomberg)

John Donahoe, EBay's CEO, has been targeted by proxy advisory firms that want to block his re-election as an Intel board member. (Wall Street Journal)

Kim Kardashian says she posts all of her own photos and comments on Twitter and Instagram. (Bloomberg)

Companies

Amazon is working with small merchants to expand the number of products it can offer through its Amazon Prime program. (Wall Street Journal) You can use the Echo speaker to order things from Amazon. (SlashGear)

Apple said HomeKit-based devices will hit stores next month. (Bloomberg) The company has raised its voice in the RadioShack bankruptcy proceedings, arguing that customer data related to Apple products should not be resold. (Apple Insider)

EBay has divvied up its 15 board members, who will all remain either with the e-commerce company or serve as directors of PayPal after the spinoff. Pierre Omidyar will serve on both boards. (Bloomberg)

Google is being asked to explain how it decides to remove information from search results in Europe. (Wall Street Journal) The company’s “Chief Internet Evangelist” Vint Cerf warned that the fragmentation of the Internet erodes what makes it valuable. (Wall Street Journal) The company may have goaded the Federal Trade Commission into publicly defending its decision to close its anti-trust investigation. (BuzzFeed)

Netflix is trying to enter the China market by partnering with Wasu Media, a Chinese media company backed by Jack Ma. (Bloomberg)

Media Files

Kim Dotcom says Hollywood missed its chance to harness the power of the Internet. (Bloomberg)

Security Watch

Hackers are using the Starbucks app to siphon cash out of customer bank accounts. (CNN Money)

News and Notes

Japan’s Sharp got its second bailout in three years as smartphone display pricing fell industrywide. In return for the $1.7 billion rescue package, the company will cut 10 percent of its global workforce. (Reuters)

Big data has come to the world of real estate. (Wall Street Journal)

With corporations now embracing cloud computing, giants like Cisco are struggling to find their place in this new era of innovation. (Bloomberg)

You can scan your iris to unlock this new phone from NTT Docomo. (Wall Street Journal)

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

To contact the editor on this story:
Maria Lamagna at mlamagna@bloomberg.net