Is Super Pumped a True Story

Is Super Pumped a True Story

Is Super Pumped a True Story -: In the world of business and technology, few stories are as dramatic and controversial as the rise and fall of Uber, the ride-sharing giant that transformed how we get from place to place. At the center of this whirlwind was Travis Kalanick, a man often compared to a cult leader for his unwavering dedication to his company’s mission. The Showtime anthology series, “Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber,” premiering on February 27th, brings this compelling tale to life. Let’s dive into the gripping story of Travis Kalanick and his role in Uber’s ascent and turbulence.

Is Super Pumped a True Story
Is Super Pumped a True Story

Is “Super Pumped” a True Story?

You might be wondering if “Super Pumped” is based on actual events. Well, the answer is yes, but it’s also a bit more complicated than that. The series is indeed based on the real-life story of Travis Kalanick and the early days of Uber. However, like many TV dramas, it takes some creative liberties to make the story more entertaining.

Is Super Pumped a True Story

Travis Kalanick: A Complex Character

Travis Kalanick, portrayed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the series, was the co-founder and former CEO of Uber. He is a central character in the show and is often likened to cult leader David Koresh. While this comparison might not seem flattering, it reflects Kalanick’s relentless commitment to Uber’s mission. In Silicon Valley, being described as leading a “cult” isn’t necessarily a negative thing. It implies that the leader is a true believer in their vision and willing to go to great lengths to achieve it.

In Kalanick’s case, he was not just a true believer but also a fiercely determined individual. He played a pivotal role in the founding of Uber in 2009 and was instrumental in its rapid growth. His unwavering faith in himself and the company was both his strength and his downfall. He was passionate about bringing Uber to the forefront of the tech industry, even when facing numerous controversies.

The Rise and Fall of Travis Kalanick

“Super Pumped” doesn’t paint Travis Kalanick as a stereotypical villain. Instead, it presents a nuanced and complex portrayal of a man who fought relentlessly to revolutionize the transportation industry. However, his single-minded determination also led to numerous scandals during his tenure as Uber’s CEO. In 2017, Kalanick resigned amidst allegations of workplace discrimination, sexual harassment, and other controversies that had occurred under his leadership.

Despite his resignation as CEO, Kalanick remained on Uber’s board of directors until 2019, the same year the company went public. The series captures the essence of his character and the rollercoaster ride of his career.

Is Super Pumped a True Story

Fact-Checking the Series

The series delves into various aspects of Travis Kalanick’s leadership and Uber’s history. Let’s fact-check some key points from the show.

  • Did Travis Kalanick really start off every Uber job interview by asking, ‘Are you an ahole’? The series portrays Travis Kalanick asking a prospective hire if they are an “ahole.” While this might be dramatized for the show, it symbolizes the intense and competitive nature of working at Uber during its early years. While it’s unlikely that the exact question was asked, the show captures the essence of the demanding work environment at Uber during its startup phase. Applicants were likely made aware that working at Uber was no cakewalk.
  • Did Uber create a tool that secretly denied service to riders? The series introduces the concept of “Greyball,” a secretive program used by Uber to evade authorities and deny service to certain riders. This is not a fictional creation for the show. In 2017, New York Times tech reporter Mike Isaac broke the story of Greyball, which was indeed a real tool used by Uber. Greyball used data from the Uber app to identify and deny service to users the company deemed undesirable, such as law enforcement officials and competitors. This tool sparked legal scrutiny and investigations into Uber’s practices. Uber initially claimed that Greyball was used to protect drivers and prevent misuse of the platform. However, it faced backlash, and Uber later vowed to prohibit its use for targeting local regulators.


“Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber” offers viewers an intriguing and often unflinching look at the life and career of Travis Kalanick, a man who played a pivotal role in shaping the modern tech industry. While he faced numerous challenges and controversies, Kalanick’s determination and vision were undeniable. The series, along with real-life events, highlights the complexities of leadership and the impact of disruptive technology on established industries.

Travis Kalanick’s story serves as a cautionary tale for aspiring entrepreneurs and leaders. It underscores the importance of adaptability, ethical leadership, and the need to evolve as a company grows. Uber’s journey, as portrayed in the series, is a reminder that even the most successful ventures can face turbulence and controversy along the way.

“Super Pumped” isn’t just a story of a single individual or a company; it’s a reflection of the broader challenges and dynamics of the tech world. As we continue to witness the evolution of technology and its impact on society, stories like Uber’s will continue to shape our understanding of entrepreneurship, innovation, and leadership in the digital age.

So, there you have it. “Super Pumped” is indeed based on a true story, but like many TV shows, it adds a dash of drama to keep you entertained. Travis Kalanick’s journey with Uber is a rollercoaster ride of ambition, controversy, and innovation that continues to capture our imagination.


Is the show Super Pumped accurate?

The TV series “Super Pumped” tells the story of Travis Kalanick and the early days of Uber. It’s based on a book written by a reporter from The New York Times. While the show can be a bit dramatic, many events in the first episode actually happened in real life. So, it’s a mix of real stuff and some extra drama for entertainment.

What is the story behind Super Pumped?

“Super Pumped” is all about the true story of how Uber’s founder, Travis Kalanick, built a massive company from scratch. He was super determined to make it big, and he did, with the help of people like venture capitalist Bill Gurley and board member Arianna Huffington. But it’s also about how his intense drive led to some ups and downs.

Did Uber really spend $25 million in Vegas?

Yes, Uber really did spend a huge amount of money in Las Vegas. It wasn’t just a work trip; they went all out for fun. They threw a surprise Beyoncé concert, had open bars, gave out prepaid Visa cards, and booked hotel rooms. In total, they spent over $25 million in cash during this Vegas party week. This was more than double what they had raised in their early funding round, so you can imagine it was quite a lavish affair.

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