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Fuldner arrives at Uber via work at startups, consulting

Fuldner arrives at Uber via work at startups, consulting

People who work with Uber Technologies Inc.'s Gus Fuldner describe him as brilliant yet unassuming.

He is “a combination of high-tech consultant financial guy” meets laid-back Midwesterner, said Randy Nornes, Chicago-based executive vice president of Aon Risk Solutions, who works with Mr. Fuldner on insurance coverage in the United States and abroad.

Mr. Fuldner grew up in Milwaukee. His father, Henry, now deceased, was an attorney specializing in trusts. His mother, Barbara, is a homemaker. His brother, Carl, is working toward his doctorate in art history at the University of Chicago.

Mr. Fuldner attended Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, where he studied economics and computer science and graduated cum laude in 2004.

After Yale, he was part of a startup team for a firm involved in payment technology for the higher education market, then worked at New York-based McKinsey & Co. from 2004 to 2009 doing payment consulting work, including a three-year stint in Hong Kong.

He entered the graduate school of business at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, graduating in 2011, and was named an Arjay Miller scholar, a designation given to the top 10% of the class.

After receiving his MBA, Mr. Fuldner re-entered the startup world as vice president at venture capital firm Benchmark Capital Partners in San Francisco from 2011 to 2013. There, he focused on investing in consumer technology, including mobile apps, and financial technology.

Uber was “another investment I was involved in,” he said.

The 34-year-old, who is single and lives in San Francisco, has little time for hobbies.

“These days, Uber is pretty all-encompassing,” he said, though he said he traveled “all over the place” when based in Hong Kong.

“I spend a lot of time figuring out and purchasing insurance or building insurance programs in other parts of the world,” Mr. Fuldner said. With one staff member each in Hong Kong and London, he is looking for a representative to cover Latin America. “So there's a lot of travel for that,” he said.

“What's so interesting about insurance at Uber is it's so fast-paced,” Mr. Fuldner said.

In addition, he still spends time on public policy and education issues, including speaking several times in the past two years at National Association of Insurance Commissioners meetings and giving a speech at last year's Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc. conference in New Orleans.

“He's now an insurance celebrity, if there is such a thing,” Mr. Nornes said. “Even two years ago, he could have walked into a room and nobody would know who he was. Now, at any large gathering of senior insurance executives, most people know Gus.”

Mr. Fuldner is “just very intense, I would say in a good way,” Mr. Nornes said. “He's always on task, I think just partly because there are so many things to accomplish, and he's very self-aware of what the priorities need to be.”

Mr. Fuldner's work ethic “is pretty amazing. He does work, I'm convinced, 24 hours a day. It would not be uncommon to see an email from him” at 2 a.m. about a policy or regulation, Mr. Nornes said. “And then he'll discover the regulations in place are inconsistent with one another, where obviously the regulators have not comprehended what they've written.”

John Clarke, senior vice president of marketing at Richmond, Virginia-based James River Insurance Co., Uber's primary surplus lines insurer, said Mr. Fuldner's “memory seems to be almost encyclopedic.”

If asked about a particular insurer's livery exclusion, “he could probably quote it for you chapter and verse, straight out of his head,” Mr. Clarke said.

“He's an absolute genius,” said Curtis A. Scott, Uber's legal director of regulatory and insurance.

“I've never seen someone have the ability to take copious, copious amounts of information, process it in real time, make efficient, quick decisions and retain all of that almost photographically,” Mr. Scott said.

That's “why he's been so effective on the regulatory side,” because he bases what he says on the facts and “has the ability to grasp in great detail what's out there,” Mr. Nornes said.

“Gus is one of those guys where he quietly goes about his business, and he's pretty unflappable,” said Mr. Clarke.

By Judy Greenwald

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