Jordan Kretchmer remembers what Travis Kalanick was like before Uber was Uber. Kretchmer was a 25-year-old college dropout with a lot of ideas, and Kalanick had even more. He was in his early 30s, an engineer who talked like a sales guy, smart as hell and high on life. He wore a cowboy hat and referred to himself as the Wolf, after the cold-blooded, coolly rational fixer played by Harvey Keitel in Pulp Fiction. He was tireless - always on the move, always thirsty.
They met in 2009 at a music festival and bonded at an all-night "jam session" about the future of the internet. That night in Austin, in the American state of Texas, was a sort of satellite version of the round-the-clock ideas salon Kalanick routinely held at his three-bedroom house in San Francisco. These gatherings were full of young people like Kretchmer who had come up through the wreckage of the first dotcom bust, before jobs in tech were thrown around like free T-shirts at a launch party, before venture capitalists regularly talked about start-ups as if they were mythical creatures. They were entrepreneurs who knew about hustle, who saw opportunity even in the muck of a desperate economy and were going to take advantage. This is what drew them to Kalanick, and vice versa.
Kalanick had made enough on his last start-up, peer-to-peer file-sharing service Red Swoosh, to buy a house and do a bit of angel investing. Uber, the transport app he cofounded with Garrett Camp in 2009, was still more or less a toy, a personal limo service for the founders and their friends in San Francisco. When Camp asked Kalanick to run Uber full-time, Kalanick said no. Uber was "supercrazy freakin' small", Kalanick tells me when we meet.
"I was not ready to get in the game and give 100 per cent or 150 per cent," he says.
Back in those days, if Kalanick liked you, he'd invest in your company, and if he thought your idea was big enough, he'd show up at your office one or two days a week and work for free. Kretchmer hadn't mustered enough courage to pitch to Kalanick that night in Austin, but he met Kalanick later that year to share his ideas. The one he was most excited about was called Tweetbios, and it basically gave Twitter users an expanded homepage.
"That's a small-time idea," Kalanick told Kretchmer. "Small-time, man."
"It p***ed me off," Kretchmer recalls. "I had users. It was growing. And I'd built the damn thing."
Kretchmer stuck around the Jam Pad, as Kalanick and his crew referred to his home, where sometimes as many as 15 entrepreneurs at a time would debate business ideas as well as drink his beer, eat his food, play his Nintendo Wii and stay the night if they wanted. Kretchmer spent the next three hours arguing with Kalanick until he'd settled on a Travis-approved big idea. Kretchmer went to work on the product, social-media software for publishers and brands, and when Kalanick thought it had progressed enough, he made 45 introductions to other angel investors in less than a week and agreed to invest in the company himself. The start-up, now called Livefyre, has customers such as News Corp and Coca-Cola and has raised US$72 million in funding.
"I got every ounce of value out of that relationship," Kretchmer says.
When I first started hearing stories such as Kretchmer's, I was surprised, mostly because they seemed at odds with the portrait of Travis Kalanick that has emerged since Uber launched in 2010. PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel has called Uber "the most ethically challenged company in Silicon Valley", and journalist and entrepreneur John Battelle says everyone in the tech industry is "worried about the sheer expression of capitalistic force that the company represents". Those, it turns out, are some of the more circumspect critiques. The chief executive of Uber has been routinely described as a callous, ruthless capitalist, the kind of guy who jacks up prices during natural disasters.
"The caricature you see of Travis does not come from a place that's false," Kretchmer says of his long-time friend. "He is an incredibly aggressive person." But, he adds, as if to reconcile the caricature with the man, "he's building one of the most important companies of all time".
About that last point there is little room for debate. In five years, Uber, which dispatches low-cost taxis and limousines operated by independent drivers, has become one of, if not the fastest-growing start-ups in history. It has more than 1 million active drivers - meaning they did at least one trip in the past week - operating in 330 cities (as of mid-August) and a valuation of US$51 billion, which is roughly equivalent to the market capitalisation of General Motors. It is a global phenomenon that is redesigning urbanites' relationship with the world around them, transforming their smartphones into control pads for their harried lives. Uber has spearheaded an entire category of business known as the one-tap economy: millions of people now routinely open an app to enlist a distributed workforce to deliver groceries, hot meals and their clean laundry on demand.
But no other one-tap-economy company has changed society like Uber has. The availability of cheap and reliable transport has helped spur a real-estate surge in San Francisco and a nightlife boom in downtown Los Angeles while also (at least according to some studies) reducing drunk driving. Uber's classification of its drivers as independent contractors has sparked conversations, not least in Hong Kong, about the changing nature of transport services and employment. Uber has also been seen as a stand-in for the excesses of global capitalism, prompting violent protests in Paris and Mexico City.
All of this influence has come at the price of Kalanick's reputation. The 39-year-old has been presented in an almost cartoonish light, coming off as either a Randian Superman, a Dick Dastardly-style moustache-twirling villain, or both. And yet Kalanick has wooed some of the most august financiers in the world to give him, essentially, a blank cheque.
Uber and Kalanick's plans are shocking to contemplate: conquering the world's biggest and toughest-to-crack markets in India and China; transforming Uber from "everyone's private driver" into a carpooling service; and then further reinventing itself - and how the world's cities operate - by introducing a fleet of autonomous vehicles. If you want to get your head around Uber's wild growth, and its even wilder potential, you have to get to know its wildly ambitious, ever-restless chief executive.
IF UBER IS THE apotheosis of the current technology boom, its roots date to the first dotcom frenzy, when Kalanick was an ambitious 21-year-old computer engineering student at the University of California, Los Angeles. In 1998, with a few months to go before graduation, he dropped out to join the founding team of Scour, a proto-Napster. Kalanick ran product, and because he was the least geeky member of the group, his friends also put him in charge of business development and marketing.
Kalanick, a natural salesman who sold knives door-to-door as a high school student, helped bring in investment from Michael Ovitz, a talent agent who co-founded Creative Artists Agency, and supermarket magnate Ron Burkle. Ovitz, among the most feared Hollywood players at the time, gave Kalanick a crash course in hardball business tactics. Not only did he insist on an onerous 51 per cent share of the start-up for US$4 million from him and Burkle, he sued Scour as a negotiating tactic when the company looked for other investors.
"In some way, LA respects the young guy that's out there just trying to make it happen, but, in some ways, they disrespect that, too," says Kalanick, who grew up in a middle-class family in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley, close enough to people like Ovitz to want what they had and also to hate them for it.
"[Kalanick] was seen as a prodigy," says Angelo Sotira, another young entrepreneur who'd sold a company, DMusic, to Ovitz, and who became close with Kalanick. But being under Ovitz's wing exposed Kalanick to the worst of late-1990s management wisdom. Executives at Ovitz's companies would routinely hand out copies of Sun Tzu's The Art of War, using the book and others like it to teach lessons. If people struggled, personally or professionally, Sotira recalls, they were told that it was because "you're a Peter and not a Howard" - that is to say, a weak-willed conformist, like Peter Keating in Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead, rather than its individualistic hero, Howard Roark. "You can imagine how f**ked up that is," says Sotira. "When you're really young, you think that's gospel."
Scour grew to have millions of users largely because it offered movies as well as music, including bootleg copies of then-current cinema releases Gladiator and The Perfect Storm. Inevitably, the company was served with a lawsuit from nearly every major record company and movie studio. The damages, US$100,000 per file, added up to as much as US$250 billion. It was, as Kalanick has noted, roughly equivalent to the gross domestic product of Sweden.
The lawsuit put Ovitz in an awkward position, as the backer of the very thing that many in his professional circle were trying to sue out of existence. He declined to fund the company further, and the studios suing Scour informed any potential investors that they'd risk lawsuits if they helped Kalanick and his friends. Scour was forced to file for bankruptcy protection.
Kalanick rebounded by starting "a revenge business", as he put it to an audience at FailCon, the start-up conference where founders tell stories of their past failures. "The idea was to take those 33 litigants that sued me and turn them into customers. So now those dudes who are suing me are paying me."
Kalanick intended to transform Scour's consumer-file-sharing technology into an enterprise software product, Red Swoosh, that would make it cheaper for media companies to deliver big video files on the web.
Like many revenge plans, it sounded better than it worked. Bandwidth prices fell rapidly beginning in the early 2000s, and the dotcom bust meant there was suddenly less enthusiasm for big investments in streaming video. Red Swoosh shrivelled to just Kalanick and one other engineer. Kalanick moved in with his parents and scrambled to prove he was right despite continually being on the verge of insolvency.
"We thought he was crazy to keep going," says Dan Rodrigues, Scour's one-time chief executive. But, he adds, "we all believed that if anybody could do it, Travis could."
Through little else but the sheer force of his person-ality, Kalanick landed an investor; rebuilt a team; signed up a client in satellite television provider EchoStar; and, finally, in 2007 sold Red Swoosh for US$23 million.
It had been a hard six years.
"When you're in the dark, your prism for everything around you is, 'Could this help the company?'" Kalanick explains. "And with your friends, you have to call favours from them, which is fine. But when you don't have many favours to give and there's failure stacking on top of failure, you get in this phase of loneliness."
Why didn't he give up?
"You can't control who you fall in love with," Kalanick says. "She" - meaning the company - "was an abusive partner."
Kalanick came away from the experience with a profound sense of relief and also a bit of a problem with authority. Once, when Kalanick had flown the seven-person Red Swoosh team to Tulum, Mexico, for a work retreat, he got into a dispute with a cab driver whom he believed was attempting to overcharge him. The row escalated, the driver reputedly tried to lock the doors and Kalanick rolled out of the moving cab. "Thinking back, it was amazing that happened," says Tom Jacobs, who was a Red Swoosh engineer. "This guy was going to disrupt the taxi industry."
IT WAS AUSTIN GEIDT'S first day at a tiny start-up called Ubercab. She'd landed the job shortly after graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2010. The company then consisted of four employees in a 10-by-10-foot cubicle. Geidt, an intense 25-year-old with long blond hair and a powerful speaking voice, was supposed to be a marketing intern, but she spent most of her first day handling customer service requests. Ubercab's app had been built quickly by a team of freelance programmers and, as a consequence, it was full of bugs that would sometimes send all the Uber cars in San Francisco to the same place. At about 3pm, Ubercab's then chief executive, Ryan Graves, who'd been given the job after sending a cheeky Twitter message to Kalanick, announced that the entire team would be repairing to the Jam Pad.
"Who's Travis?" Geidt asked.
"He's pretty important for us to know," Graves replied.
A few minutes later they were in Kalanick's living room along with a few Jam Pad regulars. The meeting was only to decide the future of the tiny start-up.
"What kind of brand do we want to be?" Kalanick asked.
A debate ensued that would last until past midnight. One person argued that Uber should focus on luxury. "We're gonna do airplanes and helicopters. It's luxury all day, all night." Somebody suggested that Uber could advertise the service with images of attractive women in front of nightclubs.
Kalanick bristled. He was beginning to see Uber not as a "supercrazy freakin' small" premium product, but as a wild maths experiment. In the early days, Camp and Kalanick assumed they could disrupt the high-end limousine business by replacing dispatch services with an app. What they did not appreciate initially was the effect that low prices would have on the service. When Uber would have, say, three cars prowling around San Francisco, passengers had to wait 20 minutes for a lift; but on weekend evenings, when 15 or 20 cars might be on the streets, waiting times plummeted. In other words, as Uber got busier, it got better. Drivers made more money and customers were happier.
"I started to see how math moved the needle," he says. "Things clicked in my mind about how this could scale."
The thing to do, Kalanick argued, was to make the service a low-cost accessible luxury.
"If Uber is lower-priced, then more people will want it," he explains. "And if more people want it and can afford it, then you have more cars on the road. And if you have more cars on the road, then your pick-up times are lower, your reliability is better. The lower-cost product ends up being more luxurious than the high-end one."
Kalanick had been resisting Camp's overtures to become chief executive, but it was this insight that got him excited: Uber could be huge.
All that struggle and setback from his first two start-ups set up Kalanick almost perfectly for what was to come.
"If you looked at everything he's done, I don't think there was another human who was more destined to build Uber," says Sotira. "You had peer-to-peer networks, aggressive dealings, large lawsuits."
The first battle came on the very day Uber's board formally named Kalanick chief executive, in late 2010. After the meeting, Graves, who became Uber's head of global operations, showed Kalanick a text he'd just received from Geidt: "FYI: people came looking for you with a clipboard with your face on it."
The visitors were process servers: Ubercab had been issued a cease-and-desist order by the city of San Francisco, which accused the start-up of operating as an unlicensed taxi company. Uber's executives faced fines of US$5,000 per ride and 90 days in jail for every day they stayed in business. This wasn't going to add up to the GDP of Sweden, but it would kill the company nonetheless.
Kalanick, the Wolf, didn't flinch. He kept the cars rolling, dropped "cab" from the company name and scheduled a meeting with the city's Municipal Transportation Agency to explain his position that Uber was not a taxi company but rather a technology service for independent drivers.
San Francisco's libertarian techies jumped to the company's defence. "Our sign-ups went through the roof," Graves says.
Kalanick responded to Uber's new, controversial status by amping things up. When critics attacked Uber's so-called surge pricing policy, a system akin to the scheme used by airlines and hotels to raise prices when demand is high, the chief executive who'd been fanatical about lowering prices began publicly mocking customers who complained.
"I like p***ing people off," he said in one interview. When asked about competitors, he said, "If you're sleeping, I'm gonna kick your ass."
Kalanick looked like an irrepressible jerk to many outside the company, but he was dynamite with the financial press, who portrayed him as the ultimate insurgent ("Silicon Valley's rebel hero," as Fortune put it).
ON THE FOURTH FLOOR of Uber's San Francisco headquarters, there is a two-foot-wide walking track, delineated by a stencilled pattern of the city grid, running around the perimeter of the open-plan office. It's quarter of a mile long, and it's where you'll find Kalanick when his mind is in motion, which is to say pretty much all the time. In a typical week he does 40 miles, or about 160 laps.
"That's just how I think," he says, compulsively screwing and unscrewing a bottle of iced tea that he finished half an hour earlier.
Kalanick still seems, to borrow one of his favourite words, "fierce", but there is also something slightly cowed about him these days. Maybe it's his grey beard, or the way his shoulders slump when he sits, or how his hands seem to shake as he talks. He appears to be making an effort to smile as he meets me in Uber's main conference room, which is known as the War Room.
"I'm OK being seen for who we are, but it's not clear to me that's always what people have written," he says, almost meekly. "We'd prefer to just be helping people get from point A to point B but, when the company starts to succeed, in a city, or in a country, or around the world, you start to get brought into more and more of these political debates."
Kalanick starts the conversation by diving into Uber's five "brand pillars" - grounded, populist, inspiring, highly evolved and elevated - but he only names two before getting sidetracked, and won't complete the set until I remind him about it 90 minutes into the interview.
Kalanick is not the kind of person who clings to beliefs, or even a fixed sense of himself.
"He has an inner circle who he opens up to, and then an outward personality and image he projects of a hard-charging disrupter who takes no prisoners," says a long-time friend. That duality, the friend says, "is part of why he's been successful". According to friends and colleagues, the only ideology Kalanick subscribes to is contrarianism. "He really thrives when he can subvert the norm," says someone who has known him for more than a decade. Another colleague says Kalanick likes "poking conventional wisdom in the eye". Kalanick's natural state, it turns out, is debating. When Uber's chief technology officer, Thuan Pham, was interviewing for the job in late 2012, Kalanick called him every day for two weeks to quiz him on recruiting or how best to manage engineers. In all, they spent 30 hours talking.
"We'd just hammer each other," recalls Pham, who came to the US in 1980 as part of the exodus of Vietnamese boatpeople, got into the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and eventually found his way to Silicon Valley. Kalanick, Pham says effusively, encourages his employees to disagree. "What Travis infuses in the company is that the best ideas win," he says. "You have to be willing to step on toes to make sure the idea is heard, and you're supposed to only be loyal to the idea, to the truth."
I witness this myself when Kalanick and I discuss China, one of his current obsessions and a place where his ideological flexibility has been an asset.
"It's just different than everywhere else," he says, referring to Uber's recent expansion into the country. "And, so, you can't take your pattern or your model for other places to China. You just can't. You have to do it different."
Kalanick has made numerous trips to the country to try to understand the quirks of Chinese transport systems and their brand of government bureaucracy.
Kalanick exults in an ability to read the data, revise and adapt, likening running Uber to driving a car without a clear destination in mind.
"You're going down the highway and it's a bit foggy," he says. "You've got to keep your eyes on the road and your hand on the steering wheel. You can only see so far ahead. But if you keep solving interesting problems, you get somewhere you didn't expect." I find this admission refreshing in light of the absolute certainty that most chief executives project.
Kalanick has brought this kind of dynamic thinking to bear in every market Uber has entered, adjusting prices and product offerings, and, at times, moulding his personality to fit a given city or business opportunity. This malleability, which Graves describes as a desire "to build a business that serves millions of people, not be slaves to a brand", makes sense given how idiosyncratic transport systems can be. Each city's taxicabs have their own colour scheme, pricing structure and set of cultural norms. For years, Muscovites have used a modified hitchhiking system in lieu of cabs and, weirdly enough, so have some residents of the ritzier parts of the San Francisco Bay area. That's why each Uber market effectively operates as its own start-up.
"Travis really wanted people who embedded in the fabric of the city," says Rachel Holt, who served as Uber's general manager of Washington (and is now responsible for operations for the US East Coast). Holt was given an annual revenue goal - US$7 million - in her offer letter and told to do whatever she saw fit to attract drivers and passengers in Washington. She cold-called limo companies, arranged to hand out US$10 Uber credits at corporate holiday parties and organised a series of marketing stunts, including a Presidents' Day "Ubercade", in which a handful of lucky customers were surprised with three-car motorcades complete with actors in Secret Service garb. She hit her revenue goal within six months.
Kalanick tends to micromanage certain parts of the business - pricing, for instance, as well as recruiting - but the company's local general managers, who tend to be hustlers hired in his own image, are given wide latitude to work out how best to attract drivers and riders to the service.
"I don't make decisions unless I'm all the way in the details," says Kalanick.
He expects everyone else to follow that example. Local staff members are allowed access to almost all of the company's data, meaning that a marketing manager in Jakarta, Indonesia, can instantaneously call up the overnight revenue for Town Cars in London or look at what happened in Chicago when the company gave out free ice cream.
Of course, there have been repercussions to this hands-off approach. In Lyons, France, a local general manager launched an Ubercade-like promotion in October last year, but one with a misogynistic bent: riders would be paired with "hot chick" drivers. "Who said women don't know how to drive?" an Uber Lyon blog post teased (it was cancelled immediately). The following month, at an ostensibly off-the-record dinner with media power brokers, an Uber business-development head suggested the company should fight back against bad press by investigating the personal lives of those who criticised it. The news went viral almost immediately.
Kalanick was not behind these blunders but he had set the tone that produced them: he had referred to his company as "Boob-er" in GQ magazine, for its success in improving his luck with women, and had publicly declared Uber planned to "throw mud" at its critics.
The gaffes have been described by some as evidence of a morally rotten company, but they're more a symptom of Uber's wild growth. The company more than quadrupled the number of cities it served last year and thoroughly eclipsed Lyft. (According to a September 2014 report, Uber was generating 12 times more revenue than its erstwhile peer.) But Kalanick's perception of himself and of Uber had not caught up with reality: he was no longer the young gun in a cowboy hat trying to make it happen.
"Travis' views were shaped by getting his ass kicked over and over again," says Lukas Biewald, whose company, CrowdFlower, was born in Kalanick's Jam Pad. "He didn't realise he wasn't an underdog anymore."
To his allies, the dinner gaffe, and Kalanick's subsequent apology (via a tweetstorm), represents a turning point. It was the first time Uber had taken a punch without throwing one in return.
"Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg went through something similar," says Uber board member Bill Gurley. "They were the young entrepreneurs who were allowed to kind of say anything, and do anything, and then all of a sudden their companies had this kind of influence on the world. That responsibility gets thrown at you quickly."
The first public unveiling of this new Travis Kalanick - who now, Boob-er days behind him, lives with his girlfriend, violinist Gabi Holzwarth, and their goldendoodle, Yobu - was at the company's five-year anniversary celebration this June. The event was stage-managed like a Barack Obama campaign rally: a series of close supporters warmed up the crowd; a cast of camera-ready Uber drivers had been invited to be on hand, including a military spouse who introduced Kalanick; there were balloons. It was all impeccable, but for Kalanick's inability to replicate the US president's soaring rhetoric. He read from a teleprompter, sometimes stumbling over words, and he kept a tight hold on the lectern.
"I realise that I can come off as a somewhat fierce advocate for Uber," Kalanick said. "I also realise that some have used a different A-word to describe me." He barely mentioned the taxi industry at all in his speech, choosing instead to frame Uber in a grander narrative. "Uber isn't just the better choice for drivers and riders and commuters, it's the right choice for cities, and all the people who live there."
The speech was good; the speaker looked miserable.
"It's not my natural state of affairs to have a scripted thing," Kalanick tells me. "When you're a start-up guy, you have to be really lean and scrappy. But as you get perceived to be big, you can't have that same kind of scrappiness."
"Are you an underdog?" I ask. Kalanick hesitates, as if he knows the answer is no but he wants it to be yes. "I mean, we're an underdog in China, right?" he says. "The thing is, how do you build a company where you'd still feel small, even as you get bigger?"
Kalanick's answer to these questions is a series of audacious initiatives, including a major push into China and other new markets and investments in Uber's core offering that could eventually move it even further away from its roots in limousines and luxury. Over the past year, he has been throwing money into UberPool, a new service that pairs up passengers on the same route and charges them a reduced price.
Kalanick made UberPool the centrepiece of his five-year anniversary speech, describing a future of the "perpetual ride", when drivers always have at least one passenger in their car. "Two people taking a similar route are now taking one car instead of two," he said. "Not only is it much less expensive than taking a cab or owning a car, it has the potential to be as affordable as taking a subway, or a bus, or other means of transportation. And that's what we believe is the real game changer."
Kalanick suggests Uber might one day expand UberPool to include buses, which he calls "the ultimate carpool machine".
What's perhaps most surprising about UberPool is how quickly the initiative took shape. Pham says the company launched the service in San Francisco in just two weeks. Uber is now expanding carpools to New York, Paris, Los Angeles, Boston and Chengdu, again offering big subsidies to entice riders to try it out. It's been slow-going and expensive, Kalanick admits, but he's willing to invest money to push his big idea in cities where the communitarian spirit doesn't come as easily as in San Francisco.
That's just the start of the company's efforts to reinvent public transport. Earlier this year, Uber poached dozens of members of the Carnegie Mellon University robotics department for a driverless-car initiative that could one day make its services much cheaper and more efficient. In the near term, though, the move represented a significant expense. Uber reportedly doubled the researchers' salaries and offered six-figure bonuses to the defectors. It also antagonised some drivers, whom Kalanick has gone to great lengths to court with promises of flexible, dependable work.
"We need to make sure that we are a part of the future," says Kalanick of autonomous cars. "You can't call yourself a technology company if you're resisting technological progress."
A few months later, Kalanick again found an opportunity to play the insurgent when he announced that Uber would be expanding its efforts in China, a market currently dominated by Didi Kuaidi - a merger between the two largest local players and backed by Asian tech giants Alibaba, Tencent and SoftBank. As of this summer, Uber has cars on the road in 16 Chinese cities, with plans to be in 50 next year. The results so far have been astonishing: in just nine months, three Chinese cities (Chengdu, Guangzhou and Hangzhou) have each already accounted for more rides than New York.
A backlash from established taxi companies in China, some of which are government-backed, and protests from taxi drivers have led to government raids on Uber's offices in Guangzhou, Chengdu and Hong Kong this year.
In a letter leaked to the Financial Times in June that detailed Uber's growth in China, Kalanick told investors that he was "personally overseeing" Uber's local expansion in the country and identified himself as "CEO, UberChina". Just a month later, Kalanick announced that Uber would invest US$1 billion to grow its business in India.
These moves are risky, and Kalanick's persistent impulse to bet big has been expensive. Uber has raised more than US$8 billion to date. It'll need more, most likely, as recently leaked financing documents show it is losing more than a dollar for every dollar it takes in. Uber claims to be profitable in dozens of markets, and it could close this shortfall if Kalanick were willing to focus on generating profits in the company's most mature cities, but that's not how Uber's chief executive rolls.
Instead of being scared about all of this, Kalanick seems to welcome it, telling me that he sometimes fantasises about relocating to China.
"That's where the action is," he says. "There are certain things in life where you have to go for it - just for the sheer adventure of it, and also for the potential," he says, his eyes widening.
"Part of being an entrepreneur is going to places that go against what the conventional wisdom might say. And when you win, well, you've won, right?"