Uber wants its “Request A Ride” button in as many apps as possible, and it’s willing to pay to get there. Now developers will get $5 for every U.S.-based user they sign up for Uber through API integrations in their own apps. Map, restaurant, travel, and nightlife app developers might jump at the chance to add an extra revenue stream.
Developers can sign up for the Uber API Affiliate Program here. They’ll get paid once they reach $250 and are capped at earning $5,000. At that point, they’ll have to join the formal Partners program to earn more. Users who sign up through the API get their first ride up to $20 for free.
Uber launched its API late last year but adoption by developers has been lukewarm. Launch partners included OpenTable, Starbucks, TripAdvisor, and United Airlines. Since then, Foursquare, Hinge, Microsoft, and Pebble have joined in.
Considering how much Uber earns over the lifetime of each user, and that it’s competing with fellow ride apps, investing in user acquisition this way could pay off big time in the long-run. Uber takes a roughly 20 percent cut of fares, implying that the $5 cost of acquiring users in this way could be breakeven after a single ride, presuming that the trip grossed $25, a not-uncommon price.
Uber can afford the short-term costs of the program. The company is among the best capitalized companies in the world, having raised billions of dollars to date. Today’s news underscores that Uber remains aggressive in deploying capital to grow its platform, and launch new products like UberPool, a way for users to share rides for a lower price point.
The company faces stiff competition at home, from both the similar-in-service Lyft, to taxi companies that are working to modernize their fleets, and mimc parts of what has made Uber so popular to date.
If the program proves successful in its home market, it isn’t hard to guess that Uber might roll it out to more markets.