An account of a ten-year-old company that took the world by a storm.
Once upon a time in Paris.
It all began in 2008 when two friends, Travis Kalanick and Garret Camp were in Paris to attend the LeWeb. It is an annual technology conference where all the futuristic technological ideas are created and shared. Both these friends had at that time sold the initial startups they co-founded. Kalanick had sold RedSwoosh to Akamai Technologies for $19 million while Camp had sold StumbleUpon to eBay for $75 million.
The idea of Uber was born one winter night when both these friends couldn’t get a cab to the conference. At that time, they thought of a timeshare limo service that could be availed through an app. After the conferences, the idea wasn’t brought up again. After returning to San Fransisco though, Camp continued to make attempts to work upon it. He later came up with the name and bought a domain called Ubercab.com.
Breathing life into an idea.
In 2009, Camp kept on working on the UberCab project. He was later able to convince Kalanick to join him as UberCab’s ‘Chief Incubator’. The first test runs were carried out using only three cars in New York in early 2010. The small amount of positive feedback encouraged the founders to officially launch the project in San Francisco in May.
Ryan Graves, who had joined in at the early development stages of the UberCab became CEO in August 2010. In December, Kalanick took over as CEO while Graves became the COO and board member. Both, when questioned about it later, stated that it was a friendly switch over.
The launch was a success in a short time. The convenience of ordering a ride with the tap of a button fueled the app’s download rate. The GPS located the cab and the cost was directly charged to the card. In October 2010, the company was granted its first funding of $1.25 million by First Round Capital.
It spread but it faced obstacles.
In 2011, other operative cab companies in the vicinity filed complaints against UberCab. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency gave a cease and desist order. UberCab responded by denouncing the word ‘cab’ and changing its name to just Uber. Demands became high and usage widespread.
That year had been a struggling year for Uber. Besides its welcoming customers and increasing demand, it had to continuously improve logistics and algorithms upon which it had to run. By December 2011, Uber had expanded to New York, Seattle, Chicago, Washington D.C, and Boston. It also went international as it launched its setup in Paris. The city where the idea was initially conceived.
In November 2012, Uber was successfully launched in Australia and around August 2013, they had expanded their services to Mexico achieving another milestone at an international level.
So far the company was running luxury cars and the rates were 1.5 times more than what the local cabs would charge. In July 2012 UberX was introduced. It provided the customers with the option of utilizing non-luxury vehicles. This meant lower overall fare. It was along the lines of up to 35% less than what UberBLACK would normally cost. While this caused an initial unrest among the drivers, seemed to be welcomed by the customer community.
By April 2014, Uber reached 100 cities worldwide. In August 2014, Uber launched another feature where customers could pool up or share the same single vehicle. It was launched in Paris in November 2014 and in New York City around December.
In April 2015, Ubereats was launched. A food delivery service. It partnered with selected restaurants with their menu to choose from on the app. Food began getting delivered at the tap of a button.
The idea of Uber helicopters became a reality in 2015. It started from Dubai and later on the services were added to US and Australian customers as well. The chopper can take 6 people at a time.
The company was working on technology to enable self-driving cars to become part of the Uber experience. Since early 2015, it had hired researchers from the robotic department and established Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh for this sole purpose.
In September 2016, Uber launched its first self-driving car in Pittsburgh. Each car featured GPS, seven lasers, 20 cameras and radar equipment that allowed the car to create a 3D map to keeps track of its surrounding landmarks and route. So far there is one human car crash with a self-driving car.
In September 2016. Uber made its intentions for the future quite clear when it announced that it was looking into the idea of transportation through flying vehicles. In a conference, the head of Uber’s products has supported this futuristic venture by claiming it to provide a more effective and less congesting method of moving about.
Of course, Uber itself does not hold any resources to manufacture such ‘flying’ vehicles. It will only play the role of the middleman, as it has already, connecting pilots to riders. Uber has put forth a 99-paged ‘white paper’ which tends to explore and discuss all the possibilities to make such a venture practical in future. This network called Elevate is estimated to be available for use within the next few years.
The company will be hosting a summit this week in Los Angeles. Figures related to relative industry, investment, government, and academia will be present there to make the entire possibility of flying cabs a reality in the near future.
Its 2018 and Uber has practically become a household name. Over 1.4 billion people in 633 cities all over the world utilize transportation services provided by Uber. This app based company has become a game changer when it comes to modern era businesses. Despite the fact that it has faced its fair share of obstacles to reach the pedestal it stands upon now, it is among the top leading private startup companies. It is still quite a marvel worldwide on how it began, how far it has reached up till now and how far it plans to go.