Uber is a company that revolutionized modern-day transportation and propelled itself to success in less than a decade. This American company offers ride service hailing and peer-ride sharing services, as well as food-delivery and bicycle-sharing services. The company is based out of San Francisco and currently has operations in over 785 metropolitan areas worldwide.
As of 2019, Uber holds a majority in the ride-sharing market for the United States, claiming 69% of American ride-sharing spending. The top four states where Uber holds the largest market share are Houston, Miami, Washington, D.C., and New York City.
How Did Uber Start?
Uber was founded by in 2009 by Garret Camp and Travis Kalanick, as UberCab. The two businessmen got the idea for Uber when they paid $800 for a private driver on New Year’s Eve. Camp realized that there should be a more affordable option for similar situations, and formed the idea for Uber. Cofounder Travis Kalanick gives Camp full credit for the idea.
The mobile app for Uber launched in 2011 as a luxury service which only allowed clients to hire luxury cars that typically cost 1.5 times more than a cab. As the business developed, UberCab had to change its name to Uber after receiving complaints from taxi associations. It also launched more affordable options after feedback from customers.
Ryan Graves became the first Uber employer in February 2010 by responding to a tweet from Kalanick announcing the job opening. Graves was hired on as a general manager but was quickly promoted to CEO. After approximately ten months, Graves became the company’s COO and Kalanick was named CEO. Several years later, Expedia’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi took over as chief executive of Uber.
In May 2019, the company went public. Unfortunately, Uber experienced the largest first-day loss in IPO history within the U.S. One month later, CMO Rebecca Messina and COO Barney Harford stepped down, but both Garret Camp and Tyler Kalanick still serve on the Board of Directors.
What Makes Uber Different
Uber is an innovator in the ride-sharing market. It was the first organization to bring ride-sharing options to the public on an international scale. Today, the company has over 110 million users worldwide.
Uber has continued to be innovative and act on customer feedback. The company has changed its business model several times in accordance with consumer demands. While originally launching as a luxury service, it brought more affordable options to the market when it saw there was a demand for it.
More recently, Uber expanded its product offerings with launches of services such as UberEats and Uber bikes. Currently, UberEats holds a 19.7% market share of the food delivery market in the United States.
Uber Has Competition
Uber’s main competitor, Lyft, entered the market in 2012. It ranks second in the transportation network market, accounting for a 30% market share. Currently, Lyft is only available in the United States and Canada. However, while Uber maintains a majority market share, Lyft has seen more growth in the last year.
Within the food delivery market, Uber’s main competitors are DoorDash and GrubHub, both of which hold larger markets shares than Uber.
In the electronic bicycle rental market, Uber acquired bike rental company JUMP in April 2018, and immediately expanded into the European market. Top competitors Lime and Bird have been around longer and still hold the majority market share.
Last year, Uber signed Virat Kohli, the captain of the Indian cricket team, to be their first-ever celebrity brand ambassador. This focus could be because India is Uber’s second-largest market after the United States. Many celebrities invested in Uber over the years, including Ashton Kutcher, Jared Leto, Beyonce and Gwyneth Paltrow.
No company is perfect, and Uber has had some scandals over the years, ranging from sexual assault claims against Uber drivers to accusations of increasing traffic congestion and causing reduced usage of public transportation. Additionally, the company had sexual harassment complaints at the corporate office and accusations of misleading drivers of their potential earnings.
Despite everything the company has been through, it continues to thrive and grow. The company revolutionized the ride-sharing industry and continues to expand into new markets. The original founders were able to see a demand for a more efficient and affordable mode of transportation than what the market offered. While more competition may enter the market, it’s likely that Uber will continue to dominate on a global scale for many years to come.