A Brief History Of Uber
Uber epitomizes disruption. The company has changed the way we think about grabbing a ride, incorporating the same technology we take for granted today into a brand new experience for consumers and an opportunity for producers.
That said, the company has come up against a number of obstacles and still, it’s valued well north of $10 billion.
Latest Crunch Report
The story of Uber begins on a wintry night in Paris in 2008.
Garrett Camp had sold StumbleUpon to Ebay, and was hanging around with another exited entrepreneur by the name of Travis Kalanick. Camp wanted to tackle the Taxi problem in San Francisco.
The original pitch involved splitting the costs of a driver, a Mercedes S Class, and a parking spot in a garage between himself and Kalanick, alongside an iPhone app, of course.
By spring, Camp has a prototype in the works. The name is UberCab.
But Camp still has a full-time gig running StumbleUpon, after spinning it back out of eBay and taking over once again. He hires Kalanick as the Ubercab’s chief incubator, to see the company through the San Francisco launch.
Kalanick, Camp, and Oscar Salazar, who helped build the prototype, hit the streets of New York to test the service. They had three cars.
After a Twitter exchange, Ryan Graves moves from Chicago to San Francisco to be Uber’s General Manager.
On July 5, 2010, Uber goes live for the first time in San Francisco.
Ryan Graves becomes CEO.
UberCab closes a $1.25 million angel financing round, led by First Round Capital with participation from Chris Sacca’s fund LowerCase Capital.
UberCab receives a C&D order from the San Francisco Metro Transit Authority & the Public Utilities Commission of California for seeming to operate like a cab company without the proper licensing.
The company changes its name to Uber.
Uber goes live on Android.
Ryan Graves steps down as CEO, passing the position back to co-founder Travis Kalanick, but remaining as COO and board member.
With investors champing at the bit for a piece of the Uber pie, the company raises an $11 million Series A led by Benchmark Capital.
Uber goes live in New York City and congestion is a bitch.
Over the next six months, Uber invades Seattle, Boston, Chicago, and Washington D.C, and starts an international expansion in Paris.
But the holidays aren’t all easy for Uber. As the company grows, it starts to experience some backlash over dynamic (surge) pricing, especially on New Years Eve.
As Uber expands into new cities, the company faces regulatory opposition in all shapes and sizes. But Kalanick promises to press forward.
Uber comes under scrutiny once again for surge pricing during Hurricane Sandy, but ultimately waives the fee and lets drivers take home the whole fair.
After being fined $20,000 in the fall of 2012 from the California Public Utilities Commission for operating an unlicensed taxi service and limousine dispatch, Uber strikes a deal with the CPUC, which removes the cease-and-desist letter from the company. The fines are not charged.
Now two years old, Uber faces competition from ride-sharing services like Lyft (which has been growing for about a year) as well as regulatory opposition in multiple markets, including internationally.
But with $361.2 million in new funding at a $3.7 billion valuation, it’s pretty easy to brush the dirt off.
California becomes the first state to regulate ride-sharing services, benefitting companies such as Uber and Lyft.
Uber strikes a deal with auto manufacturers to lower the cost of car ownership for drivers.
A six-year old girl, Sophia Liu, is tragically killed when an Uber-contracted driver strikes her at a San Francisco crosswalk. Uber denies liability, noting in a statement that “this tragedy did not involve a vehicle or provider doing a trip on the Uber system.”
Uber announces an insurance plan for drivers to extend their own personal coverage, focusing on when there are no passengers in the car.
With 100 cities offering Uber car service globally, Uber experiments with a courier service called Uber Rush.
Uber announces $1.2 billion in funding in its latest round, valuing the company at around $17 billion pre-money.
Uber and Lyft both claim that drivers and employees are regularly hailing and canceling rides on each other’s services. Uber says Lyft employees have canceled about 13,000 trips and Lyft claims Uber has canceled about 5,000 of its rides.
Uber is still fighting Lyft and other competitors, as well as regulatory opposition across the globe. It’s also a member of the $10 billion+ club.