In August, after a drawn-out and expensive battle to be the preeminent ride-hailing app in China, Uber sold its entire Chinese operation to competitor Didi Chuxing in exchange for $1 billion cash and a 17.7 percent stake in the company. Today, Bloomberg published a lengthy interview with Didi’s CEO and founder, Cheng Wei, or, as he’s now known, the “Uber Slayer.”
The profile charts Cheng’s career, from failing to finish all the questions on his college-entrance exam, to a gig selling life insurance (he didn’t sell a single policy), to running a company now valued at $35 billion. And while the details of Cheng and Didi’s rise to the top are interesting, sure, the best thing to come out of the piece is actually an anecdote from Cheng about meeting with Uber CEO Travis Kalanick to celebrate the deal. The pair met up in a hotel bar in Beijing and toasted glasses of baijiu, a traditional Chinese grain alcohol. And apparently, at least according to Cheng, Kalanick’s drinking skills leave a little something to be desired.
Over drinks, the CEOs spoke of mutual respect and their admiration at how hard both sides had competed. “We are the craziest companies of our times,” Cheng says. “But deep in our heart we are logical. We know this revolution is a technology revolution, and we are just witnessing the very beginning.” He genuinely seems to admire Kalanick—to a point. “His alcohol tolerance is just so-so,” Cheng says, smiling.
In fairness to Kalanick, Chinese businessmen are some of most notorious hard drinkers in the world. Still: a huge blow for American ingenuity.