Here is Uber’s first pitch deck

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Here is Uber’s first pitch deck

On the ninth anniversary of the founding of Uber, its co-founder Garrett Camp shared the company’s initial pitch deck via a personal Medium post. The deck, and the short post, comes off quite sentimental because of how much has happened to the company since it was created.

But company growth and drama aside, there’s a lot to be learned from Uber’s 25 slide deck. Enjoy the flashback to the past with complementary late-night commentary.



Very little from this slide would stick with the company. You’re far more likely to see your driver with a Prius. We have come a long way from Blackberries.


Cabs in 2008

The point around fuel efficiency is interesting. When drivers buy their own cars it is in their interest to buy fuel efficient cars — hence the prevalence of hybrids.

I’m also young enough to not remember ever having to hail a cab.


The Medallion System

The term “Digital Hail” sounds outdated already but you can see clearly how Uber would lead to the rapid proliferation of gig economy drivers.


UberCab Concept

In contrast to Lyft, Uber initially focused on higher-end rides that would be similar to UberBlack today. They completely missed that the market would grow far larger than just “professionals in American cities.” Also the NetJets reference is fairly dead on arrival.


1-Click Car Service

Policy did and still does prove to be a bit of a hiccup here. Though the company has spent countless dollars fighting regulation, it always knew the importance of establishing trust between drivers and passengers.


Key Differentiators

The emphasis on “members only” is starting to feel a bit off from Uber’s current culture. Yes, you need to register but most everyone is an Uber “member.” And as previously mentioned, the luxury car concept never quite manifested the way the team thought it would.


Operating Principles

I pretty much lost it at “profitable by design.” Perhaps that was just a way of telling investors that they wanted to make money. Just goes to show you how crazy of a ride it would have been to be an early Uber investor, later weathering billions being burned in international markets in the name of expansion.


UberCab apps

Woah, that’s a Nokia. Only one of those three phones made it to 2017. Then again, two-thirds of things (or more) we see today won’t make it to 2026.


Uber thankfully upgraded to The web as an interface for booking an Uber is quite outdated. But the company does have a scheduled rides feature.



I’d really love wifi in cars — what happened to that? I have only had one driver ever who had wifi in his car. Airports are still hit or miss. Otherwise all these cases and more are right on.


User Benefits

Lines here are a bit blurred. In certain situations (especially in NYC) cabs make more sense. Generally speaking, Uber is way more convenient though and its benefits are so clear that it’s hard to imagine dedicating an entire slide to the topic.


Environmental Benefits

This point about fuel efficiency and the environment is really emphasized strongly.  And if I’m understanding their intent right, surge pricing seems to oppose the proposed idea of lower rates after events at the Ballpark etc.


UberCab Fleet

Toyota Prius. Honda Accord. Toyota Corolla. But as noted, the fleet thing turned out very different. Can’t imagine investors really liked that part of the pitch anyway.


Initial Service Area

To this day Uber works best in cities. From my experience, wait times are significantly shorter in SF and the entire experience is more refined. But Uber would grow into many more countries in the nine years after its SF deployment.



Symbian? It has been a long while since I’ve heard that one. Hope the creation of Android didn’t throw too much of a wrench into engineering spending.


Demand Forecasting

This data would become key to Uber’s Autonomous Car Group (ATG). I’d be curious if the team saw this only as a means for optimizing rides. Almost reminds me of the genius behind the Facebook like button — AI applications are infinite.


Overall Market

Suffice to say the market was much bigger. Uber pulled in $6.5 billion in 2016. Another reason not to put too much stock in market size estimations.

Everyone thinks their market is $4 billion. Most won’t come close to capturing that and a few lucky stars will blow past their estimate by a multiple.


Composition of Market

I have friends who use Uber to ship boxes across town. The long tail of use-cases has grown substantially.


Target Cities

Turns out those seven cities wouldn’t be enough for Uber. With the rise of Lyft and another few dozen serious international competitors, Uber would reprioritize first mover advantage in international markets.


Potential Outcomes

I find this conservative but I’m also suffering heavily from hindsight bias. The realistic and worst-case scenarios scream “don’t invest in me.”


SmartPhones, Aug2008

How was this only nine years ago? Blackberry and Nokia are actually leading their respective categories.

But ok, the real takeaway here is that Uber is built on the back of mobile. Without the rise of mobile, Uber wouldn’t have happened.


Future Optimizations

UberX did turn out to be more popular than UberBlack. Hybrids took off. I’m sure GPS is better than it was in 2008 even though it still pings my location massively off every once in a while. RIP bookings. Premium, yes — the $150+ I’ve paid for an UberX from SF to San Jose! Uber’s scheduled rides are actually priced just like normal rides.


Marketing Ideas

These are all quite bad. Then again, Uber’s obsession with all things black (they have black mirrors in their office) and the whole “bits and atoms” branding move also never made any sense to me.


Location-Based Service

This is not to mention the rise of UberEATS and the entire industry around it.


Progress to Date

Good to know the team bothered to create a bank account to accept the money from the investors being pitched.

But all aside, First Round Capital, Lowercase Capital, Founder Collective and a bunch of angels must have really liked what they saw.