It’s never been easier to get from place to place than it is in today’s day and age. There are so many different ride-sharing methods it can almost be overwhelming.
However, it all started with Uber. The largest taxi company in the world that doesn’t actually own any cars.
The creators came up with a pretty ingenious premise: what if you could order a cab right from your phone.
It all started as a result with two men’s frustration with trying to hail a cab. In 2008, Garrett Camp and Travis Kalanick were attending a business conference in Paris. After struggling to get a ride, they began discussing an app that could send a limo right to your location.
After the conference, the two men returned to their lives, but Camp couldn’t stop thinking about their conversation.
In 2009, Camp’s main focus was StumbleUpon—a company he eventually sold to eBay for $75 million—But in his spare time, he was working on UberCab. Eventually, Camp convinced Kalanick to join the project and in 2010, the company had its soft launch in New York. Then, in May of that same year, the company officially launched in San Francisco.
In October 2010, UberCab received their first significant investment—$1.25 million from First Round Capital.
Also in October 2010, the company was issued a cease and desist from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA). The biggest point of contention the SFMTA had with the company was the use of the word ‘cab’ in their name.
In response, the company rebranded to just Uber. However, that wasn’t the end of the backlash Uber has received from taxi companies and government agencies.
In 2011, prices surged to nearly seven times the usual rate on New Year’s Eve, which resulted in outrage from consumers. In response, Uber committed to a cap on surge pricing.
In 2014, taxi drivers staged protests in London, Berlin, Paris, and Madrid. The taxi companies’ claim is Uber’s avoidance of licensing fees and local regulations create competition they can’t keep up with.
In 2017, European courts revoked Uber’s license to operate in London. However, in summer 2018, a London judge overturned the decision and allowed Uber to operate in London for 15 months on a conditional basis.
Also in the summer of 2017, a New York judge ruled that Uber employees would have to change their title for drivers to employees as opposed to independent contractors, which meant they would become eligible for employee benefits.
In August 2018, New York City Council issued a restriction on new licenses for 12 months.
While many taxi companies have claimed Uber has an unfair advantage over them, over companies have simply co-opted their methods.
There are currently several different ride-sharing companies that operate similar to Uber, the number one competitor being Lyft.
Since their initial launch as a ride-sharing company, Uber has branched out and expanded what they offer consumers.
In 2014, they launched Uber Eats, a food delivery service. In 2017, they partnered with Barclay’s on a Visa card that offers cashback on certain purchases.
In April 2018, Uber invested in JUMP Bikes—a bike-sharing company—before purchasing the company outright for $200 million. Then, in July of that same year, they began investing in Lime, an electric scooter renting company.