Jason Calacanis, who became one of Uber’s first investors when he invested in the company in 2009, has a unique approach to Uber’s current crisis.
Uber is looking for a new CEO and Calacanis has a rather unexpected nomination to make – Elon Musk.
On his web show, “This Week in Startups,” Calacanis said that a tie-up between Tesla and Uber would give Uber the autonomous driving technology it so badly needs and expand Tesla’s reach into many more markets.
“If those two companies were together, they would beat everybody at transportation,” said Calacanis. “They’re on a collision course for sure.”
Almost all investors have been worried since Uber’s co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick was forced to resign in June, and after venture firm Benchmark sued Kalanick alleging fraud.
Uber is the highest valued private firm, with a valuation of about $70 billion in its last private financing. The company is operating without a C-suite and with nobody clearly in charge.
By merging with Tesla, Uber would get its new CEO in Musk and be able to keep Kalanick involved as a board member, Calacanis said.
“We need to get back to that sense of camaraderie and resolve these issues for the employees and the stakeholders in Uber,” Calacanis said. “We need the founder involved. Banishing the founder is a mistake.”
Another suggestion from Calacanis is to get Uber drivers more involved through various incentives. The company took an important first step in June by enabling in-app tipping, but it could go even further by giving drivers access to Uber shares.
“I’d like to see the best drivers have an equity stake in the company,” he said.
While it could happen, Calacanis’ suggestion may be a far-fetched. Tesla, after all, has its own problems too: being in make-or-break mode as it seeks to meet Model 3 production capacity, quality control, taking steps to become a permanent and fully established automaker, and becoming fully profitable, just to name a few. It’s hard to see a world where Musk would want to take on Uber’s problems on top of all that.