July 25, 2017

What Travis Kalanick could have learned from the woman running China’s Uber

Liu Qing, or Jean Liu, President of Didi Chuxing
By Bjc980 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Jean Liu is president of Didi Chuxing, the ride-sharing behemoth that dominates China’s market. Her dealmaking acumen and collaborative approach to competition is also the antithesis of former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s aggressive, take-no-prisoners style of business.

Liu has made her mark by negotiating complex deals that align seemingly intractably opposed forces. When she first appeared on the ride-sharing scene in 2014, after 12 years at Goldman Sachs, her task was to hammer out a deal merging her company, Didi Dache, with its chief rival in the local market, Kuaidi Dache. She did this successfully , halting the war of attrition between the two and setting the stage for a united front, then worth $6 billion, against Uber’s entry to the mainland.

Two years later, Liu was faced with another intractable problem: How to craft a deal with Uber that could at least appear to benefit both parties. She delivered again, with a merger announced between Uber’s China operations and Didi last August. Even Kalanick had to adopt a gracious tone in defeat, writing in a blog post : “I have no doubt that Uber China and Didi Chuxing will be stronger together.”

Contrast that with how Kalanick handled the potential acquisition […]

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