Uber Wins The 2014 Crunchie For Best Overall Startup

In a few decades, when we look back at the history of Uber, 2014 will be remembered as the year in which it established itself as a global force to be reckoned with. So it’s probably no surprise that the company has won this year’s Crunchie for Best Overall Startup.

Over the past four years, Uber has quickly expanded to make affordable, reliable transportation available in more than 250 cities worldwide. But 2014 was the year it truly transformed itself from scrappy upstart to a massive machine for moving people around.

Competition was fierce in the Best Overall Startup category for 2014. Uber went up against GoPro, which launched a series of new products and went public in 2014. Stripe joined the unicorn club early in 2014 and doubled its valuation by year-end as it made payments sexy again. Tinder faced a sexual harassment suit and lost its CEO but continues to show monumental growth.

Meanwhile, runner-up Snapchat continued to raise new funding and justify its massive $10 billion valuation with new features and a monetization strategy.

But Uber raised not one, but two giant rounds of funding last year that totaled $2.6 billion and ended up valuing the company at $40 billion. (Uber capped that off with an additional $1.6 billion in convertible debt earlier this year.)

Perhaps more important than adding to its massive war chest was the work Uber did to build new relationships and transform its image. The company launched an aggressive API strategy to enable users to hail its cars on-demand from multiple third-party apps. The company also hired former Obama aide David Plouffe to lead its campaign and keep its cars on the road.

At the same time, Uber faced a number of challenges in 2014. Beyond the usual regional skirmishes it faces with local regulators and lawmakers, it also faced a number of scandals that have tarnished its image.

The year began with an off-duty Uber driver being arrested for the death of a young girl, which called into question the company’s insurance policies and liability in these cases. A comment about investigating journalists and critics made by SVP of Business Emil Michael opened up inquiries into Uber’s privacy policy. And a couple of incidents, including a rape in Delhi, raised issues around how well it screens drivers before putting them on the road.

Despite all that, Uber continues to grow and is showing no real signs of slowing down. It’s for that reason we’re proud to announce Uber as the Best Overall Startup in 2014.