When it comes to naysayers and prophets in the Silicon Valley funding world, standing at the top of the heap is perhaps Benchmark General Partner Bill Gurley.
While many VCs hem and haw about whether the city is experiencing a bubble the likes of what happened when the Dot Com Bubble burst more than 15 years ago, Gurley doesn’t beat around the bush.
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And today at an interview sponsored by Benchmark portfolio company SailThru, TechCrunch caught a couple of choice quotes from Gurley. At the top of the list? His belief that on-demand startups like Instacart, Shyp and Postmates are “at risk”:
“It’s like, the last time,” he went on. “All this Postmates and Shyp stuff happened [in] ’99, with [the failed online delivery startup] Kozmo, [and] it’s the same shit. It’s the same shit.
Gurley, for his part, doesn’t remain bearish on every on-demand company. His bias peaked through in his optimistic view of Uber, a Benchmark portfolio company and one of the biggest names in the on-demand market, and it’s ability to “remove anxiety”:
“When [Uber CEO] Travis [Kalanick] started Uber, he insisted there not be a [option for a tip built into the app]. He didn’t want the user experience to include this anxious moment of, ‘What should [the tip] be?’”
Gurley is right that Uber remains king of the hill in the on-demand world, even as its competitors focus on delivery rather than ride-sharing.
This is due to Uber’s extensive posturing around becoming a logistics company — not only in its production of niche programs like UberEATS but also its partnerships with high-end retailers and supposed closed-door conversations with mid-level gig economy startups that need a driver fleet to function. There’s very little, at this point, that Uber cannot do.
But that all hinges on the idea that everything Silicon Valley is today will remain there tomorrow. And if Gurley’s assertion that ’99 is repeating itself is even somewhat true, the prospect of things staying the same are highly unlikely.