Uber is not a company; it's a concept. Well, actually it is still a company, but its pioneering days and blitz like global expansion combined with the attraction of a novel technology concept propelled Uber into the limelight and made it a name synonymous with driving. Just like Coke is synonymous with soft drinks and apple with mobile technology, Uber is the now a verb, and you can uberify if you want to take over a system.
This is even more so true in reality when you look at all the services that Uber provides, and the services it has stopped providing, all in the search for a lucrative income model. Here is a review of the new UoT, the Uber of Things.
|Year||Month and date||Event type||Details|
|2009||March||Company||Uber founded as UberCab in SF, Ryan Graves is CEO|
|2010||July||Company||Uber hits the streets of SF officially|
|2010||December||Team||Travis Kalanick replaces Ryan Graves as CEO.|
|2011||February 14||Funding||Benchmark Capital invests $11 million in Series A.|
|2011||May||National expansion||Uber hits NYC|
|2011||September||National expansion||Uber hits Chicago|
|2011||December 5||International expansion||Uber hits Paris, France|
|2011||December 7||Funding||Investors Goldman Sachs, Menlo Ventures, Bezos Expeditions and more invest $37 million in Series B.|
|2012||July 2||International expansion||Uber hits London, UK|
|2012||June||Competition||Lyft opens its doors in SF|
|2012||July||Product||Uber introduces UberX|
|2013||June||International expansion||Uber hits Mexico City, Mexico|
|2013||July||International expansion||Uber hits Taipei, Taiwan|
|2013||August 8||International expansion||Uber hits Johannesburg, South Africa|
|2013||August 23||Funding||Google Ventures and TPG Growth invest $258 million in Series C.|
|2013||August 29||International expansion||Uber hits Bangalore, India|
|2014||April 7||Product||Uber introduces Uber Rush, a courier service in NYC|
|2014||June 6||Funding||BlackRock, Google Ventures, and 5 more investors invest $1.2 billion in Series D.|
|2014||July 15||International expansion||Uber hits Beijing, China|
|2014||July 24||International expansion||Uber hits Lagos, Nigeria|
|2014||August 6||Product||Uber introduces UberPOOL its low-cost carpool service.|
|2014||October 22 - November 19||Controversy||On October 22, 2014, an article by Sarah Lacy was published in Pando Daily where she sharply criticized the "asshole culture" of Uber and said she intended to delete the app from her phone. This started the "sexual culture controversy" in Uber.|
|2014||December 4||Funding||Qatar Investment Authority, Valiant Capital Partners, Lone Pine Capital, New Enterprise Associates, and SherpaVentures invest $1.2 billion in Series E. Uber was valued at $40 billion for this round.|
|2014||December 8||Product||Uber introduces UberFresh to LA|
|2014||December 8||Controversy||The first case of an alleged rape by an Uber driver in Delhi|
|2014||December 16||Funding||Baidu, the Chinese Google invests $600 million in Series E. The total value of series E reaches $1.8 billion.|
|2015||January 21||Funding||Goldman Sachs invests $1.6 billion in debt financing.|
|2015||January 22||International expansion||Uber Nairobi, Kenya.|
|2015||February 2||Team||Uber's AV research center pens in Pittsburgh and steals 50 scientists from Carnegie Mellon University.|
|2015||February 14||Competition||Didi Kuaidi starts as China's first large rideshare company.|
|2015||February 18||Funding||Times Internet, Foundation Capital, and Accelerated IT Ventures add another $1 billion in Series E notes and brings this round to $2.8 billion.|
|2015||April 28||Product||UberFRESH rebrands itself as UberEATS. It is now in NYC nad Chicago.|
|2015||June 17||Legal||California Labor Commission decides that Uber drivers are employees.|
|2015||July 31||Funding||Microsoft and Bennett, Coleman, & Co, Ltd., invest $1 billion in Series F, at a company value of $50 billion.|
|2015||August 19||Funding||Tata invests $100 million in private equity|
|2015||September 9||Competition||Didi Kuaidi raises $3 billion|
|2015||December 3||Competition||Softbank invested companies; Lyft, Didi Kuadi, Ola and Grab announce a global technology and service alliance.|
|2015||December 9||Product||UberEATS gets a separate app. Starts in Canada|
|2016||March 1 and 15||Product||The new UberEATS app provides 24/7 service in Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and San Francisco.|
|2016||April 12||International expansion||Uber hits Buenos Aires, Argentina|
|2016||May 7–9||Local retreat||Uber leaves Austin, TX due to fingerprinting rules.|
|2016||May and June||Product||App upgrade|
|2016||June 9||Product||Uber RUSH API is made into open-source for developers.|
|2016||June 30||International expansion||Uber hits Kiev, Ukraine.|
|2016||July 24||Local retreat||Uber leaves Budapest, Hungary. [|
|2016||July 28||Legal||Rideshare companies become fully legal in China|
|2016||August 1||competition, mergers||Didi Chuxing (formerly Didi Kuaidi), buy's Uber China.|
|2016||August 18 (announcement)||Product, automation||Uber AV launches a self-driving pilot in Pittsburgh.|
|2016||September 16||Product||Uber researches mapping of London|
|2016||October 28||Legal||Uber loses the workers' rights case of Aslam v Uber BV in the UK.|
|2016||November 2||The product, user experience||Uber upgrades its app|
|2017||March||Product||Uber tests underage kid services in select markets.|
|2017||June 21||Team||CEO Travis Kalanick steps down from CEO position amidst the controversy of the Uber culture.|
|2017||August 28||Team||Dara Khosrowshahi is Uber's new CEO.|
|2017||October 25||Product||Uber Visa and Barclaycard service are initiated in the US.|
|2017||December||Funding||Softbank invests $11 billion, of which $1 billion is for Uber operations, and $10 billion is used to buy stock from shareholders, raising Softbank’s holdings in Uber to 17%.|
|2018||February||Product||First death of a pedestrian by Uber AV pilot in Tempe, Arizona|
|2018||March||Product||Uber starts GoBank debit Card service|
|2018||March||Contraction||Uber leaves Asia, sells to Grab|
|2018||April||Expansion||Uber does not apply for a license to operate AV's in CA.|
|2018||April||Product||Uber upgrades the app|
|2018||April||Product||Uber partners with Jump, an e-bike rideshare platform in SF|
|2018||April||Product||Uber introduces HopSkipDrive to Chicago|
The above timeline is not complete; there is so much more that Uber has done in the past and is doing now. However, what we do see is a company that aggressively expanded to attract investment. It then used its investment to subsidize income by creating a price war with taxi', causing passengers to prefer Uber to taxi's, and using the billions to both subsidize the ride by paying drivers more through various incentives as well as losing money from operational losses.
Uber has now got its operational claws in service that range from freight and e-pay systems and is continuously expanding more lucrative services, contracting or closing bad services. It is testing out unusual services such as UberHelicopter in Brazil and has a flight division working on the development of small flying Uber taxis.
Uber is developing a rental service, including a partnership with "Getaround" under the title UberRent. It closed its Xchange lease operations due to massive losses. It is now looking at Taxi and public transport systems, whit deals being set up between Uber and Masabi, a company that will provide mobile transportation ticketing to Uber customers, that will complement a seamless ride when arriving at a destination.
Uber also recently expanded its UberBike sector, with Jump and planned on offering this service in markets where customers will use e-bikes as an additional service to their ride experience.
A Finnish concept is standing for Mobility as a Service. It basically an emerging trend where comprehensive solutions are being developed to coordinate an end-to-end solution for travelers. This means that integrated software systems will communicate the needs of the client and arrange a door to destination service that will include rideshare, public transport, air, sea and land solutions that will arrange every logistic request from the moment it is requested.
The reason that Uber is interested in this emerging technology is the market size expectation for 2030, which is $1 trillion. SoftBank has been and is still in a major market buyout of AV technology and rideshare platforms and is setting its place as a major stakeholder in this trillion-dollar market. This is also why research into autonomous vehicles has become a major attraction to investors. As Khosrowshahi stated in a recent press release "Autonomous is part of the solution, and I think long-term is going to be a very important part of the solution of getting rid of car ownership."
MaaS is about connecting all the dots into one matrix, that means they need localize, national and global solutions to cater for every socio-economic customer. Investing in e-bikes, cars, freight, AV and taxi services is just one side of the equation. Uber has to invest in public transport solutions as well, and this is where its linkup to Masabi comes into play. Another major market that has started to generate a lot of interest is the medical insurance market, where customers and patients need to reach appointments, get to clinics or be part of clinical trials. Uber is well entrenched in this niche market and is expanding it daily.
Smart cities are also part of the system and being able to connect logistics providers to smart city networks will invariably allow traffic and public transport as well a traffic system to benefit by directly linking to these services, providing a seamless transportation system that should alleviate congestion.
MaaS is about communications and sharing data across multiple platforms, where a person that books a hotel room in another city becomes a part of that cities logistics pattern and is factored into solutions. That person's social status will also help the system understand what the demands and preferences might be so that Maas will evolve into Kaas, which stands for Knowledge as a system. That is the bottom line, its all about the knowledge, not just the system.
Self-Driving or Autonomous Vehicles (AV) has been a major investment opportunity during the last few years. The concept of a driverless car has caused many an investment bank to reach deep into its pockets. Uber succeeded in raising a lot of cash partly due to its investment in this area. However, due to the recent car crash where a pedestrian was killed by an Uber AV in Tempe, Arizona, Uber has stopped all testing completely. It also did not renew its CA license for AV pilot testing in CA. While Uber has closed down other operations, this one would be a major strike against the company. Personally, I don't think Uber will shut it down, I believe that they will sell it as one big package deal, most probably to Toyota or Honda or even to Volvo.
Uber expanded very quickly and then contracted just as fast. Some countries were open to Uber, others immediately threw them out, and the third group took their time to learn what Uber was. Uber's voracity in the expansion is what gave all other services immediate entrance into markets that would have taken years to penetrate. The other companies are also happy that Uber is the leader in all markets since it draws the media and legal issues to the Uber brand and away from competitors.
Uber has either been banned from certain countries, or Uber pulled out due to legal restrictions in the following locations: USA: Alaska, Oregon (except Portland), Canada: Vancouver, Bulgaria, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, Germany, London, the Northern Territory in Australia, Japan, and Taiwan.
Uber sold its market presence in Russia to Yandex, in China to Didi Chuxing, and its South East Asian presence to Grab.
With this, Uber not only expands or contracts its rideshare market, but it also develops new markets unique to specific locations, and these include among them:
- UberFLASH, taxi rides in Singapore.
- UberAIR (Uber Elevate), due to come out in 2020 in Dallas-Fort Worth, Dubai, and Los Angeles. This is Uber's VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) aircraft project.
- UberAUTO, Pakistan, provides transportation by auto rickshaw.
- UberBOAT, a water-taxi service. In Istanbul, Turkey.
- UberGO, hatchback ride's in India.
- UberMOTO, motorcycle rides in Pakistan and Indonesia.
- UberTAXI is Uber's version of Gett and is available in a number of markets.
The actual reason that Uber is not as successful as it could be being due to Uber's own decision to maintain data privacy. Had Uber set up a "smart city transportation" system, where its data would be readily accessible to city transportation networks, integrating them into the app and vice versa, they would have pioneered a new concept that would have entrenched them into the cityscape and given them "preferential" treatment against competitors.
Uber's competitors around the world are expanding into e-pay, e-commerce- and e-health services, using their customer base as leverage for delivering successful income sectors as an addition to their main service of rideshare driving. GoJeck in Indonesia and Grab in Singapore are classic examples of gig economies that are not just rideshare anymore.
My take is that we will continue to see Uber expand into some areas while contracting in others. The Softbank effect will continue to play a predominant decision-making factor, and Khosrowshahi's leadership style will ease it back into places that were in states of extreme friction, such as London and Paris. However, at the end of the day, we will all identify rideshare as Uber, even if we order a Lyft, we are actually Ubering, which is just the way it is. (Now I'm gonna Uber with a Lyft!)