The China Startup Pulse

Market Localization of the Highest Valued Unicorn with Sam Gellman, First Foreign Employee of Uber China

Episode Summary

On this day 2 years ago, China’s ride-hailing industry experienced a major turning point - Didi purchased Uber’s China operations and Uber took a 20% stake in Didi. So far Uber has expanded in more than 449 cities and 66 countries. Today, many companies are still trying to elbow into this crowded industry. In this episode, we are lucky to have Sam Gellman as our guest, the first international Uber employee that took care of the company’s expansion in Asia and China. Sam shared his past experience in redesigning Uber’s playbook to adjust to China’s unique ecosystem, channels for communication and user acquisition. Despite knowing only a bit of Chinese, Sam was assigned to create a Chinese name for Uber. Fortunately, the Chinese name 优步 turned out to be one of the most well-received foreign company names. As the person who worked on market localization for Uber, Sam also shared how they took the company from nothing to a massive exit within 3 years.

Episode Notes

On this day 2 years ago, China’s ride-hailing industry experienced a major turning point - Didi purchased Uber’s China operations and Uber took a 20% stake in Didi. So far Uber has expanded in more than 449 cities and 66 countries. Today, many companies are still trying to elbow into this crowded industry.

In this episode, we are lucky to have Sam Gellman as our guest, the first international Uber employee that took care of the company’s expansion in Asia and China. Sam shared his past experience in redesigning Uber’s playbook to adjust to China’s unique ecosystem, channels for communication and user acquisition. Despite knowing only a bit of Chinese, Sam was assigned to create a Chinese name for Uber. Fortunately, the Chinese name 优步 turned out to be one of the most well-received foreign company names. As the person who worked on market localization for Uber, Sam also shared how they took the company from nothing to a massive exit within 3 years.

Also check out Uber CEO and Co-Founder Travis Kalanick's statement on the merger: https://www.uber.com/newsroom/uber-china-didi/

Many thanks to RISE Conference 2018 for gathering global elites in Hong Kong and supporting China Startup Pulse to present good quality content for our listeners.

Show notes:
Intro 1:44 Coming to Hong Kong with Goldman Sachs 2:40 Scaling Uber to Europe 8:30 The most surprising part of launching in Asia 10:08 Choosing a Chinese name for Uber 12:35 The key lesson learned from Uber 17:31 Having a global footprint while still improving your product 23:31 What’s keeping Sam busy 25:30

As always, thanks to our host Oscar Ramos, guest Sam Gellman, editor David and Geep, organizer Chinaccelerator and sponsor People Squared. Be sure to check out our website at chinaccelerator.com!