2 years ago, I wrote the first blog post of my nomadic travels in NYC. At that time, I thought I might live with different people for a couple of months while I “figured things out.” It turned into much more than that, an indelible experience on my life with images from the people and places of New York City.
I lived in a different neighborhood, with different people, every week for nearly two years! Towards the end of my project, I realized that as soon as I stopped I’d look back on it and ask “How did I ever do it?” And now, after month-long sublets in South Williamsburg and Greenpoint and 6 weeks in my new, permanent home in Alphabet City, I’ve reconsidered just that: How did I do it? How did I move almost every week since March of 2010?
You can get used to anything, and I got used to moving. Almost Every Sunday, I packed everything I owned into four bags and moved to a new neighborhood of NYC. I thrived on meeting new people and seeing new places – on getting to know this city in a truly unique way. I was constantly aware that seeing any place for a week is not enough, but when you know you only have a week, you see a lot more. You also talk to people a bit more, and through my SoundCloud fellowship, I met and interviewed people who know a far different New York City than I ever will. (Bernie’s been in Stuytown since the 40’s!)
It’s quite hard to encapsulate this project in a single blog post. I had over 100 roommates and lived in everything from a tiny studio to an 8 person loft, from a Park Avenue doorman building to the South Bronx. I even camped one week in Brooklyn. I stayed with people from the age of 8 months to 80 years old (my 80 year old host was still flying planes) and in 52 unique neighborhoods across the 5 boroughs (map here).
None of this would have been enabled without some amazing friends and supportive family, friendly acquaintances, and welcoming strangers. I’m still overwhelmed by the willingness of people who shared their apartments and lives with me. I learned so much, a great deal of which is still being processed. I’m similarly overwhelmed by the number of offers to stay with people around the world (especially Brazil!).
I want to say thanks, and I’m having a party at my new place so feel free to stop on by if you’re in the neighborhood. Here’s some more info on the party.
I’ll end this how I ended my first blog post for the NYC Nomad and say that I hope to see you in your neighborhood!
But there is an enormous challenge ahead of us. Thinking globally, there are so many cities that sorely need a transportation system that actually brings delight to it’s users. Uber’s combination of efficiency, elegance, and simplicity do just that, and I’m probably most excited to build the team that delivers said delight.
In the US we’ve got a crack squad of hustlers on our launch team (which we’re still hiring for). This team consistently bites off more than they can chew, and consistently surprises our team and even themselves. The growth isn’t slowing down and we’re looking for more of these brave souls.
This is the start-up equivalent of SEAL Team Six (the SEAL on the left, not the seal on the right, the team that took down Bin Laden, the best of the best!). Our launch team is the special missions unit that takes on new cities, new product roll outs, and strategic growth projects (like SXSW) for what is one of the most operationally complex businesses out there.
As I started reading more about SEAL Team Six, I checked out what Wikipedia said:
On certain operations small teams from SEAL Team Six were tasked with covertly infiltrating international hot spots in order to carry out reconnaissance or security assessments.
“Covertly infiltrating hot spots”. “Security assessments of US bases”. This is Uber’s launch team. A well trained, well rounded, complimentary team of bad asses who will not only help expand Uber’s dominance, but will also hold a high standard for existing markets and help to test and improve our operations.
Take Paris for example: Our team took a matter of weeks (2.5 to be exact) to dig in, learn where Paris needed Uber most, infiltrate the market and understand who the main players were. Then plan a multi faceted attack/deployment of marketing, supply operations, and support. The environment wasn’t perfect, but the goal was clear and they killed it. We executed a very successful Paris launch for Le Web that marked day 1 of Uber Europe.
So what does it take to be a part of this team? With an entrepreneurial optimism, and the aid of our launch playbook a *Launcher*, as we call them, partners with a fresh city lead (GM) to roll out a transportation system. No small task. It’s safe to say that if you’re not a slight workaholic with a flair for calculated risk taking, you need not apply.
Being analytical and strategic with a bias towards data is a baseline, and practically a must-have to fit in with our team. With our intensity towards rolling out a local solution, it’s critical to enjoy digging into the culture of city and understanding it’s needs. You must be insightful in order to understand a cities transportation dynamics, and creative to reach the ‘influencers’ within a market; it’s them who will evangelize Uber’s growth.
Finally, the launcher has to be ready for an adventure. You’ll spend most of your time on the road and need to be comfortable with an eat, sleep, breath Uber mentality. But, you’ll come out of this experience with a ground up understanding of Uber and a fast growing startup operate…you will be ready to dominate. You’ll be fearless in almost any business endeavor. You’ll develop a new understanding of execution, and will truly be one of the best.
“The matzo business offers a lesson for how companies can succeed in an increasingly competitive, global marketplace: do something that’s really, really hard. If your business is easy to replicate, then someone, somewhere (probably China) is going to undercut you. But these days many are succeeding by following the matzo principle: fashion houses are scouring the latest microtrends for inimitable looks; industrial manufacturers are making hugely difficult custom products like aircraft engines. If your business is really easy to do, don’t gloat. You might be out of a job soon.”—The Amazing Matzo Stimulus (nytimes)