Since its inception in 2009, San Francisco-based Uber has started a revolution in the ride share industry. The idea behind the national car service is a simple one: take out-of-service limousines and connect them through a network using an iPhone or Android app that allows customers to order pick-up and drop-off service. Customers can set up profiles that include their credit/debit card information so they won’t have to worry about having cash when being dropped off at their destination.
With the help of investors Goldman Sachs and Google Ventures, among others, the company has grown to a value of $3.4 billion, up 10 fold from its initial funding of $307 million in 2009. The company has survived the attempts of taxi cab groups in Washington, D.C., Dallas, and elsewhere to limit their presence, and the company has maintained a growth rate that exceeds that of companies such as eBay.
How Uber Works
As mentioned above, Uber works by connecting cars with passengers via mobile technology. The platform built for Uber uses GPS tracking to show customers the proximity of an available car relative to their location. Users can select the type of vehicle (typically a black sedan or luxury SUV) they would like to have pick them up and watch in real time as the driver moves to their location. A driver will place a telephone call after the initial order has been placed to confirm pickup and a second call when the car approaches the pickup point.
The rate charged by Uber is comparable in many markets to that of a traditional cab. Uber may charge a higher peak rate when service demands are at their greatest.
Where and How Uber Operates
Uber operates in over 20 cities in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, has a presence in Europe and Africa, and is developing relationships in emerging overseas markets such as Singapore, Seoul, South Korea, Taipei, and India. The United States markets where the Uber service can be found include New York City, Boston, Washington, D.C., Denver, Los Angeles, and of course San Francisco.
A new round of capital in the amount of $258 million from Google Ventures in August 2013 allowed Uber to snag high valued talent in the tech sector to help the company with its expansion plans. These acquisitions include CFO Brent Callinicos, formerly of Google, Ed Baker in the role of head of international growth (from Facebook), and Emil Michael, former COO of Klout, as senior vice president of business.
Competition for Uber
The rising popularity of ride sharing has brought competition from several other services, including Lyft, Sidecar, Hailo, and Taxi Magic. Uber’s success as a ride sharing service has opened a niche in this market, and forced traditional taxicab services to incorporate more technology to help their customers better connect with available drivers and schedule rides. The result is a boon for passengers who have long complained about taxi services. As these services continue to proliferate and create additional competition for Uber, new services such as the lower-cost UberX and registration bonuses are being offered.
Uber has partnered with the NFL to provide rides for players as a way to promote safety and entered into an arrangement to deliver Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in 33 cities.
This article was provided by Mike Gordon, car enthusiast and gadget geek. If you’re an owner or employee of a dealership, and are looking for better ways to management your business, Mike suggests visiting www.carxrm.com/dealer-management-software.