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Love it or hate it, Uber changed the way we viewed getting around transport. The business model was simple enough. Match those looking for a ride with people who have cars. It hasn’t always been smooth sailing, but considering that the app now boasts over 91 million active users, it’s an overwhelming success story. SMH – that is some immense growth and a lot of money has been changing hands.
In this post, we’ll look at some of the biggest moments in the company’s history.
Uber Didn’t Kill the Taxi Industry In New York
Uber was an industry disruptor because it was a hybrid between carpooling and a standard taxi service. The company was easy enough to launch. Unlike a traditional cab service, there was no outlay for cars, licenses, and so on – kind of like how Airbnb doesn’t need to buy or own any actual properties.
The ride service got the credit for destroying the traditional cab industry in New York, and it has disrupted it as well in other areas like Boston, Florida, Canada, Asia, Australia, and beyond. There’s a little more to that story, though. To operate a conventional cab in NYC, you must have a medallion. The price of these medallions increased from $200,000 in 2002 to more than $1,000,000 in 2014.
This, on its own, didn’t kill the industry. According to the New York Times, the taxi industry leaders did that. They would loan drivers the $1,000,000 to buy the medallions. These were repayable over three years. If the driver didn’t pay, he could extend the loan, but the terms were unfavorable.
Drivers could also opt for interest-only loans. This meant signing over just about all their income, though. This leads to drivers not being able to make ends meet and the eventual decline of the industry.
Uber didn’t help because it offered higher prices but greater convenience. That said, it doesn’t deserve the credit in this instance.
Uber Charges a Premium for Services on New Year’s Eve
The decision to charge extra for drivers on New Year’s Eve wasn’t a popular one. It was understandable as commuters had to pay three to six times as much as usual.
The Launch of Lyft
Up until this point in the market, Uber was the only option. With the introduction of Lyft, the company had to become more competitive. This was good for the consumer because prices decreased. We see this with new technologies like 4K HDR and 3D Printing – new entrants help the consumers by making prices tighter.
Drivers Sue the Company Over Working Conditions
Drivers in the United States sued the company because they felt that they were employees. According to them, Uber creamed all the profits while providing the drivers with very little in the way of job security.
The company did, and still does, treat its workers as contractors rather than full-time employees. This means that the firm doesn’t have to pay minimum wage or for benefits.
Uber Trialed Their Rush Bicycle Delivery Service
This bicycle delivery service charged a minimum fee and a fee per mile. The firm allowed the program to run for four years before calling it a day.
Uber Got Banned in Parts of India
This occurred after its driver allegedly raped a woman. Reports of the sexual misconduct of drivers have plagued the company for several years now.
The Company Launches UberEats
This time the firm went into the food delivery service industry. This project is still ongoing today. It allows folks to order food and get it delivered to them by Uber.
Uber Trials the First Ride Sharing Driverless Car
Considering where Uber started, it’s ironic that it was the first to field driverless cars. The introduction of these vehicles, however, gave the company a way to improve profitability.
Why didn’t this work out?
A driverless car in Tempe Arizona killed a woman because it wasn’t trained to recognize jaywalkers. To compound matters, there was a driver in the car for emergencies. The driver, however, wasn’t watching the road.
Uber took a lot of flak for this. Ultimately, though, the distracted driver took most of the blame.
Fast-forward two years, and Uber is trying out a new model of a driverless car, or self driving cars as they are also called. Elon Musk and Tesla are obviously heavily involved in driverless cars. Delivery robots are also taking off. Scooters are also becoming a bigger part of personal transportation over shorter distances not suited for rail or air.
Uber CEO, Travis Kalanick Resigns
After a few troubled years, co-founder and CEO of Uber resigned. It’s said that investors demanded his immediate resignation after arguments with the embattled CEO. The company had taken a lot of flak for the purported toxic work culture.
Uber Launches its IPO in May of 2019
This was significant as the company is no longer a startup. The IPO didn’t go as well as planned. The stocks ended the day lower than when they started.
Over the years, Uber’s experienced more than its fair share of controversy. There’s no question that the ride-sharing service is here to stay. That said, it’ll be interesting to find out what scandal breaks next.
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