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Top 10 Uber Facts

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Sean Harris They're the reason why hailing a cab no longer requires a wave from the street. Welcome to WatchMojo Profiles, the series where we break down and explain well-known companies that might be on your radar. In this instalment, we're counting down 10 fundamental facts you should know about Uber. Special thanks to our user Leo Lazar Jakšić for submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Script written by Sean Harris

Top 10 Uber Facts

They’re the reason why hailing a cab no longer requires a wave from the street. Welcome to and today we’re counting down 10 fundamental facts you should know about Uber.

#10: What Is Uber?
The Company

Uber is an international transportation network company, designed as a modern alternative to traditional taxicab systems. The company is centered around a smartphone app that allows consumers to submit a trip request, and drivers to directly respond from their own cars. In terms of the customer experience, it seemingly cuts out the middleman because, with Uber, it’s not necessary to contact a taxi firm, which then contacts a driver on your behalf.

#9: Who Created Uber?
The Founder

The network is headquartered in San Francisco, and was founded as ‘UberCab’ in 2009 by Garrett Camp and Travis Kalanick. Camp is a Canadian entrepreneur who had previously found success by co-founding the web-discovery service, StumbleUpon; and Kalanick is an American whose most notable start-up before Uber was Red Swoosh, a peer-to-peer file sharing company which he created alongside Michael Todd in 2001. Camp and Kalanick received $200,000 in seed funding, before raising around $1.25 million of additional funds in 2010, their first full year of business.

#8: How Much Is Uber Worth?
The Financials

Uber is notoriously coy when it comes to the money it does or doesn’t make, but two things are common: year upon year it sees massive increases in revenue, but also fails to post a profit. Up until 2014 especially, the company may have had difficulty in convincing investors that they’d backed the right brand. In the first half of 2013 alone, it lost more than $15 million. But Uber puts this down to ‘a case of business 101,’ saying, ‘your raise money, you invest money, you grow,’ before profits begin to appear. Now, in terms of straight-up value, theirs can only be seen as a success story. In 2015, Uber became the fastest ever start-up to achieve a $50 billion valuation.

#7: Where Is Uber Active?
The Scale

Since starting out in San Fran, Uber has gone global. Five of its biggest markets remain within the US – Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington DC, New York and the Golden Gate City itself – but the service is ever-expanding elsewhere. In late 2011, Paris became the first non-US city to play host to Uber, with London following suit in 2012 and ushering it further into Europe. Next it arrived in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia, before breaking into Asia with markets in Singapore and Taipei. Now more than 65 countries and 350 cities are connected by Uber; from Dublin to Durban, Kuala Lumpur to Cape Town.

#6: How Does Uber Make Money?
The Pricing

Since its beginning, Uber has taken a 20% commission from every fare made by its drivers, although throughout 2015 the cut has been tentatively raised in some cities to 25%, or even 30%. The service is built around an algorithm that incorporates ‘surge pricing’, to ensure that fares remain appropriate for the local level of supply and demand at any one time. When the demand exceeds what the service can offer, fares increase. But, if ever there are more cabs on the road than customers needing them, the prices fall. The system has received criticism in the past, most notably during the 2014 Sydney hostage crisis in which insensitively high fares were issued, and Uber was forced to refund. Controversy surrounding the company’s unregulated services arose again around New Year’s Eve 2016, when it received a barrage of complaints from North American Uber users that were charged up to 10 times the normal rate.

#5: What Are the Benefits of Uber?
The Product

From the consumer perspective, Uber has made hailing a cab a much more pleasant consumer experience. A special perk is that it allows you to track that cab’s journey toward a meeting point, ensuring that your time isn’t wasted blindly waiting to be picked up. For the driver, Uber allows for greater flexibility and control. It doesn’t rely on cars being hailed from the street, which opens up a whole new prospective clientele in less built-up areas of the city. As a result, the service also helps reduce congestion and potentially reduce vehicle mileage, as it eliminates the need for cabs to drive around searching for work.

#4: Who Is Uber’s Competition?
The Rivals

Uber is not a stand-alone service, and there are other comparable alternatives. The most prominent rival to Uber comes in the form of a four-way international alliance between Lyft (another San Francisco start-up), GrabTaxi (operating in Southeast Asia), Ola (based in India) and Didi Kuaidi (from China). The merger enables the quartet of companies to share the service they provide, therefore greatly enhancing each brand’s respective reach. With a collective capital of around $7 billion, the aim is to loosen Uber’s influence on the international market.

#3: Who Is Against Uber?
The Protests

Traditional taxi firms and drivers have mounted ongoing opposition against Uber, arguing that the company presents unfair competition because it doesn’t pay comparable taxes or licensing fees. Protests have been staged across Europe as well as in India, China and Canada, and Uber was banned in some countries, including Spain. Other arguments against the network include concerns over the safety of Uber passengers due to the potential for untrained, uninsured and unregulated drivers without sufficient background checks. There are also those that criticize Uber for its erosion of the traditional worker/employer relationship through its use of its drivers as contractors. This way, it doesn’t have to provide benefits like insurance, sick days or basic job security, which ultimately profits the company financially. Uber CEO Kalanick counters this by arguing that it isn’t a boss but a software platform.

#2: Has the Company Generated Controversy?
The Issues

Uber’s rise to prominence hasn’t always gone smoothly. In 2013, one of its San Francisco drivers killed a young girl and severely injured her mother and brother, and Uber was taken to court; in 2014, it was sued by the National Federation of the Blind after numerous reports of mistreatment of blind passengers; and in 2015 the company was implicated as part of a rape investigation involving one of its drivers in Delhi, India. As the negative reports mounted however, company vice president Emil Michael made yet more damaging headlines in 2014 when he suggested that Uber would be hiring a big budget journalistic team of their own, in an apparently aggressive bid to get even. And there still remains the previously mentioned controversy surrounding how Uber deals with its drivers, including their well-being, and how they are paid like independent contractors but treated like employees.

#1: How Will Uber Expand?
The Future

Despite seemingly discouraging profit figures throughout its formative years, Uber is in a healthy financial position with plenty of capital raised to fund further expansion. China is a particular target market for the future, as the company looks to fend off its competitors by spending up to $1 billion a year in the country, and expanding into 100 more Chinese cities. There are also plans to develop a full-scale food delivery service called UberEATS, and to establish ‘Uber Trip Experiences’ as a leading content provider to every Uber customer. What started as a smart way to get from A to B could become an all-encompassing tool for day-to-day life in the twenty-first century.

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