Uber

Uber logo

Uber is an American technology company. Its services include ride-hailing, food delivery, package delivery, couriers, freight transportation, and a partnership with Lime, electric bicycle, and motorized scooter rental. The company is based in San Francisco and has operations in over 900 metropolitan areas worldwide.

Quick Facts

Summary

  • Ranked #469th worldwide
  • Active users 93 M
  • Type Sharing Economy Networks
  • Launched date Mar 2009
  • Employees 26,900
  • Headquarters San Francisco, California, U.S.
  • Parent company Uber Technologies, Inc.

Founders

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Garrett Camp Canada
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Travis Kalanick

Networks

  • Brand value In 2020 $46 B
  • Revenue in 2020 $11,139 B
  • Net loss In 2020 $6,768 B

Data Graphs

personvia Statista.com

Current Controversies

Current controversiesUber has had its share of controversies over the past year. (via medium.com)

Principled confrontation

While Uber was led by Travis Kalanick, the company had an aggressive strategy for dealing with obstacles, including regulators. In 2014, Kalanick said "You have to have what I call principled confrontation."

Uber's strategy was generally to commence operations in a city without regard for local regulations. If faced with regulatory opposition, Uber called for public support for its service and mounted a political campaign, supported by lobbyists, to change regulations.

Attacks on competitors

Uber issued an apology on January 24, 2014 after documents were leaked claiming that Uber employees in New York City deliberately ordered rides from Gett, a competitor, only to cancel them later. The purpose of the fake orders was to waste drivers' time and delay service to legitimate customers.

Misleading drivers

In Jan 2017, Uber agreed to pay $20 million to the US government to resolve accusations by the Federal Trade Commission of having misled drivers about potential earnings.

Alleged short-changing of drivers

In 2017, a class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of thousands of Uber drivers, alleging that Uber’s “upfront prices” policy did not provide drivers with the 80% of fares they were entitled to.

In May 2017, after the New York Taxi Workers Alliance (NYTWA) filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court in New York, Uber admitted to underpaying New York City drivers tens of millions of dollars over 2.5 years by calculating driver commissions on a net amount. Uber agreed to pay the amounts owed plus interest.

Operating during a taxi strike

In late January 2017, Uber was targeted by GrabYourWallet for collecting fares during a New York City taxi strike in protest of Executive Order 13769. Uber removed surge pricing from JFK airport, where refugees had been detained upon entry. Uber was targeted because Kalanick had joined the administration's Economic Advisory Council.

A social media campaign known as #DeleteUber formed in protest, leading approximately 200,000 users to delete the app. Statements were later e-mailed to former users who had deleted their accounts, asserting that the company would assist refugees, and that Kalanick's membership was not an endorsement of the administration.

Evasion of law enforcement operations

Greyball: Starting in 2014, Uber used its Greyball software to avoid giving rides to certain individuals. By showing "ghost cars" driven by fake drivers to the targeted individuals in the Uber mobile app, and by giving real drivers a means to cancel rides requested by those individuals, Uber was able to avoid giving rides to known law enforcement officers in areas where its service was illegal.

Ripley: After a police raid on Uber's Brussels office, a January 2018 report by Bloomberg News stated that "Uber routinely used Ripley to thwart police raids in foreign countries." It offered a "panic button" system, initially called "unexpected visitor protocol", then "Ripley". It locked, powered off and changed passwords on staff computers when raided. Uber allegedly used this button at least 24 times, from spring 2015 until late 2016.

Sexual harassment allegations and management shakeup (2017)

On Feb 20, 2017, former Uber engineer Susan Fowler stated that she was subjected to sexual harassment by a manager and subsequently threatened with termination by another manager if she continued to report the incident. Kalanick was alleged to have been aware of the complaint.

Uber hired former attorney general Eric Holder to investigate the claims and Arianna Huffington, a member of Uber's board of directors, also oversaw the investigation.

On Feb 27, 2017, Amit Singhal, Uber's Senior Vice President of Engineering, was forced to resign after he failed to disclose a sexual harassment claim against him that occurred while he served as Vice President of Google Search.

In Jun 2017, Uber fired over 20 employees as a result of the investigation. Kalanick took an indefinite leave of absence. Under pressure from investors, he resigned as CEO a week later.

In 2019, Kalanick resigned from the board of directors of the company and sold his shares.

God view and privacy concerns

On Nov 19, 2014, then U.S. Senator Al Franken, Chairman of the United States Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, sent a letter to Kalanick regarding privacy.

Concerns were raised about internal misuse of the company's data, in particular, the ability of Uber staff to track the movements of its customers, known as "God View". In 2011, a venture capitalist disclosed that Uber staff members were using the function to track journalists and politicians as well as using the feature recreationally. Staff members viewed being tracked by Uber as a positive reflection on the subject's character.

An Uber job interviewee said that he was given unrestricted access to Uber's customer tracking function as part of the interview process.

Delayed disclosure of data breaches

On Feb 27, 2015, Uber admitted that it had suffered a data breach more than nine months prior. Names and license plate information from approximately 50,000 drivers were inadvertently disclosed. Uber discovered this leak in September 2014, but waited more than five months to notify the affected individuals.

Use of offshore companies to minimize tax liability

In Nov 2017, the Paradise Papers, a set of confidential electronic documents relating to offshore investment, revealed that Uber is one of many corporations that used an offshore company to minimize taxes.

Discrimination against a blind customer

In Apr 2021, an arbitrator ruled against Uber in a case involving Lisa Irving, a blind American customer with a guide dog who was denied rides on 14 separate occasions. Uber was ordered to pay US$1.1 million, reflecting $324,000 in damages and more than $800,000 in attorney fees and court costs.

Court of Amsterdam case on 'robo-firings'

In Apr 2021, the court of Amsterdam ruled that Uber has to reinstate six drivers that were allegedly terminated based solely on algorithms and pay them a compensation fee. The practice of firing employees via automated means is against Article 22 of GDPR, which relates to automated decisions causing "legal or significant impact".

Uber challenged the ruling, claiming it was not aware of the case and that the judgement was brought by default without the company ever being notified. A court representative said the decision would be upheld and the case is now closed.

Uber's Driver System

Uber's Driver SystemUber's Driver System. (via thesun.co.uk)

Uber drivers are independent contractors instead of permanent Uber employees. As contract workers, they do not receive health benefits, retirement, disability, leave, unemployment or injury compensation; they only get paid for the business they generate when they carry passengers. Uber's commission currently ranges from 20% to 30% of the total fare, depending on the city and circumstances. The drivers keep the rest.

Uber doesn't own cars; instead, it serves as a referral or dispatch system for drivers with their own vehicles. For UberBlack's corporate car service, the company relied on a network of licensed limousine drivers. A large number of US limousine companies (estimates range from 20%-40%) allow their drivers to join Uber.

To become an UberBlack driver, drivers must be professional drivers with a commercial license and commercial auto insurance. Their vehicle must fit Uber's criteria for the UberBlack service. They must also have a clean driving record and undergo background checks at both the state and federal levels.

Uber has claimed that a full-time driver can earn $75,000 - $90,000 annually, compared with the typical $30,000 for a taxi driver, although some have questioned the numbers there.

Original Idea

original ideaoriginal idea

The idea for Uber was born on a snowy night in Paris in 2008 when Travis Kalanick and his friend Garrett Camp were having trouble hailing a taxi, and both thought about a smartphone app that would simplify vehicle search. When he returned to San Francisco, Garrett Camp bought the domain name UberCab.com and convinced Kalanick to run the company.

UberCab officially launched in 2009 as a private luxury car service catering to San Francisco and Silicon Valley executives . In the early days, customers who wanted to use the service had to email Kalanick to receive an access code to the app. After entering their credit card information on the app, customers can then book a car at the touch of a button. The cost of the ride is automatically deducted from the customer's credit account. Uber keeps 20% of the total fare, the driver keeps the rest.

Brief History

2009
Mar Uber was founded under the name Ubercab.
2010
Feb Ryan Graves became the first Uber employee. Graves started out as general manager and was named CEO shortly after the launch.
Dec Kalanick succeeded Graves as CEO. Graves became chief operating officer (COO).
2011
Jan Uber raised $11M in Series A round.
May Uber expands operations in New York.

The name of the company was shortened to Airbnb.com.

Nov Uber raised $37M in Series B funding and expanded into Paris.
2012
Jul The company introduced UberX và khai trương tại London.
2013
Aug Uber raised $258M in Series C round and launched in India and South Africa.
Dec USA Today named Uber its tech company of the year.
2014
Jul Uber expands operations in China, Laos and Nigeria.
Aug Uber launched UberPOOL, a shared transport service in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Launched Uber Eats, a food delivery service.

2016
Aug Uber sold its operations in China to DiDi in exchange for an 18% stake in DiDi. DiDi agreed to invest $1B in Uber.
2017
Jul Uber received a five-star privacy rating from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Aug Dara Khosrowshahi, the former CEO of Expedia Group, replaced Kalanick as CEO.
2018
Feb Uber combined its operations in Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia and Kazakhstan with those of Yandex.Taxi and invested $225M in the venture.
Mar Uber merged its services in Southeast Asia with those of Grab in exchange for a 27.5% ownership stake in Grab.
May Uber became a public company via an initial public offering.
Jul The marketing department was reduced by a third, with the layoff of 400 people amidst continued losses.
Sep Uber laid off an additional 435 employees with 265 coming from the engineering team and another 170 from the product team.
Nov Uber became a gold member of the Linux Foundation.
2020
Jan Uber acquired Careem for $3.1B.

Uber sold its Indian Uber Eats operations to Zomato, in exchange for 9.99% of Zomato.

May During the COVID-19 pandemic, Uber announced plans to layoff 3,700 employees, around 14% of its workforce.

3,000 more job cuts and 45 office closures were announced.

Jun Uber announced that it would manage the on-demand high-occupancy vehicle fleet for Marin Transit, a public bus agency in Marin County, California.
Jul Uber in partnership with its majority-owned Cornershop, launched Uber grocery delivery service in Latin America, Canada, Miami, and Dallas.
Nov Uber announced that it had lost $5.8B.
Dec Uber acquired Postmates for $2.65B.
2021
Feb Uber announced the purchase of Boston-based alcohol delivery service Drizly for $1.1B in cash and stock.

Uber announced it would team up with Walgreens pharmacies to offer free rides to stores and clinics offering COVID-19 vaccines for those who live in underserved communities.

Apr Uber said that its employees are expected to return to office by September 13 and to work at least three days per week from office.

Network Features

How Uber Works

How Uber WorksA man is using Uber. (via uber)

Uber is an easy service for customers to access. To access Uber, customers must download the app, create an account, and enter their credit card information. When they're ready to book a car, they simply open the app and press the button. The app will show available drivers in a nearby location and usually respond within seconds that a driver is on their way.

When the driver comes to pick up the customer, the customer can track the driver's progress on the map. Uber's app allows customers to see a rider's name and quality rating, which ranges from 1 to 5 stars. Customers can refuse a driver with a low rating; they can also contact the driver by phone. The car usually arrives within minutes. Once the driver receives the passenger, the driver can move to the destination using Uber's GPS system.


At the end of the trip, the travel fee will be automatically deducted from the customer's account. An email receipt is sent to the customer when the trip is completed, at which point the customer is encouraged to rate the driver.

Uber prices are determined at the time and distance of the ride as measured by GPS. Uber's economy car service is often priced lower than the private limousine service. During peak times, prices can increase from 1.5x to 7x. The exact algorithm behind these spikes remains a mystery.

On the driver side, the uber system works in reverse. When a customer orders a car, a nearby driver has the right to respond, and has the right to refuse to pick up a passenger if they have a bad history. They also have the option of contacting the customer by phone or texting if necessary for the customer.

The driver app also has additional features. It has "heat maps" that allow drivers to identify areas where they are likely to find passengers. It has a function that shows income, analyzes how much the driver has made, and of course separates out the driver's home payment. It has a feedback icon that shows how passengers rate them, including any comments passengers may have left.

Uber App Features

Share your trip

When you get the Uber app, you can make sure your friends and family always know where you are with the Share Your Trip Uber function. When you request a ride or during a trip, simply swipe up and you’ll see a Send Status option – this creates a notification with your driver’s name, vehicle name and location which you can share with friends and family. You can also select up to 5 Trusted Contacts who will immediately receive your trip data whenever you use the Send Status function.

Split fare

There’s nothing more awkward than asking friends for their share of the ride back from town after an evening out. Forget uncomfortable conversations and use the Split Fare Uber app feature. You can divide the fare amount with up to three people directly in the app (although they’ll all need their own Uber accounts) simply by swiping up, tapping your selected payment method and then choosing Split Fare. You can enter the names of those you’re splitting with and they’ll receive a notification to accept before the ride is up.

Multiple destinations

It’s hard enough to plan a group hangout without having to worry about how everyone is getting there and back. That’s why the ability to add extra stops along your route is built into the Uber app’s functionality. The Multiple Destinations feature lets you easily pick friends up your friends on the way out and then drop them home again without any hassle. When you go to enter your ride destination, just tap the + symbol next to the destination section to add extra destinations. You can also add, change or remove your stops once you’re on the move using the app.


Scheduled rides

When you’re in an early morning rush, even the short wait time for an Uber might knock you off-schedule. The Schedule a ride Uber app feature means that you don’t have to stress out about organizing your ride first thing, because you can book it up to 30 days ahead of time. Just go to request a ride as normal and tap the icon of a car and a clock to set your preferred pick-up time and location, as well as your destination and the type of ride you want. You can still reschedule or cancel it up to 15 minutes before your ride.

Another rider

Did you know you can book rides for someone else? Whether it’s sorting out a ride for an elderly relative, or just surprising a friend before a night out, it’s just a matter of choosing their name from your contacts list when prompted to choose the rider. They receive an SMS with all the details, from time and car to driver’s name and contact info. You can also pay for the ride, or they can pay in cash.

Calendar Shortcuts

Speaking of meetings, do you use the “Calendar Events” feature in your Uber app? This links your phone calendar to the app. Any address you add to the meeting will appear as a “Shortcut”, so you don’t have to add the details again when you book a ride. It’s one of the little things in life that help make you more organized.

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