Uber is the little company that was started in 2009 by two guys from San Francisco who wanted to change the way that people utilized transportation. Initially, it was seen as a way for people to make money and save expenses on getting around by car. But after it started to grow, Uber soon became a way for people who could not afford cars to get around without buying a car.
The concept behind Uber is actually very simple and easy to use. The service centers around a smartphone app that you would use to arrange transportation with someone else on the Uber network. You would arrange a ride, and that driver would pick you up in their car and take you where you want to go. The car owner gets paid a percentage of the fee, and you get a ride that is usually similar in price to using a taxi. As simple as it sounds, Uber’s massive growth to a $50 billion company has a lot of people seeing red.
Not Taxi Cabs
In many countries, the legality of the Uber service is being challenged by taxi cab companies who complain that Uber drivers are performing taxi services without a taxi license. The dispute rages on as the company continues to expand its services.
Uber is now set up to offer its services in 300 cities located in 58 countries around the world. Uber recently has set up its network in Nigeria, and it is quickly taking off.
It Caught On Quick
The initial funding secured by Uber founders Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp by the end of 2010 was $1.25 million. By the time 2011 was over, that funding had grown to nearly $45 million.
International Right Away
Uber was officially launched in 2010 with financial backing from a variety of investors. The app started out in San Francisco, but within less than a year it had taken root in Paris, France.
Big Hit In Britain
When Uber was finally able to launch its service in London in 2012, it had already lined up 90 drivers to be part of its network. This is still one of the largest initial launches the company has ever done in any foreign city.
Big With Search Engines
Uber’s mapping function is powered by Google Maps throughout much of the world, and by the Chinese search engine Baidu in China. Both Google and Baidu have made significant investments in the operations of Uber that have totaled several hundred million dollars.
The resistance by taxi drivers to Uber is very real as the service has been banned in Berlin, Germany because it violates licensing laws. Uber has also met with strong resistance through protests in London, Paris, and Madrid.
The Uber app will calculate the cost of a ride based on time if the driver is driving slower than 18 km/h. Otherwise, the distance is used to calculate fees and those fees are automatically applied to the rider’s credit card when the journey has ended.
Riders and drivers are not able to negotiate a fee in the Uber network. The fees are set by Uber, and the amount the driver gets is also set by Uber.
Uber devised a process for determining prices call surge pricing. When the demand for rides spike, Uber raises prices to attract more drivers and discourage riders from requesting pick-ups. When Uber tried to patent this process, the United States Patent Office denied the patent because it called the process “too obvious.”
A System Of Trust
Riders and drivers can rate each other after a trip has been completed, and those ratings do affect the ability of riders and drivers to arrange transportation. A driver with a low rating is less likely to get the call when a ride is requested, and a rider with a low rating may find it difficult to get drivers to accept their ride offer.
By Appointment Only
Uber drivers are not allowed to accept rides from people who hail them along the road. Uber will only pay a driver when the ride has been arranged and completed through the app.
Uber is meeting resistance in many of the cities where it is trying to set up new networks, but it is also getting significant support from technology industry giants. As Uber starts to take hold in Nigeria, it will be interesting to see how the program does, and if it becomes as popular in Nigeria as it has become in other parts of the world.