Let me preface this with: I do not work at or for Uber. I am not affiliated with Uber in any way. I just love writing about impressive companies.
Lyft, "Imma let you finish," but we need to talk about the modern phenomenon that is Uber Technologies Inc.
I used to say that I bet it was way easier to come up with an idea and start a business 50-100 years ago -- that so many products and ideas simply did not exist yet; that coming up with something just a little better must have been pretty easy.
I take it back. Yes, a lot of "things" (goods, services, companies, etc.) already exist, but the market (a.k.a. us) is always thirsty for more, and there's plenty of room left. Not to mention the transparency (internet, enough said), resources (again, internet, i.e. Kickstarter), and lower barriers to entry (ding, ding, ding, you guessed it - internet, i.e. the "cloud," Amazon Web Services) are quite the crutch entrepreneurs have today.
However, knowing that does not stop me from being completely awestruck by Uber.
Ridesharing. What a really, really complex idea …"share thy car with thy neighbor."
So simple, yet so brilliant, and in a technologically progressive world, a simple idea with the right technology equals a goldmine.
Well, not quite. I'm aware that starting/running a company takes a lot more than an idea and the right tools. There are a lot of nuances and dirty politics (insert joke about the election). It's about having the right people. And timing (first mover advantage, anyone?). And luck -- lots and lots of luck. A lot of moving pieces need to click. But Uber continues to be an exquisite example of this modern-day success story.
Cue some Uber facts:
- Servicing over 500 cities worldwide (wow)
- Over 300,000 drivers
- Valued at over $65 Billion (…NBD)
- Privately owned (still)
- Uber delivers food (UberEATS)
- Extra fun fact: Uber delivers puppies to select cities (on select days)
On top of these fun facts, I somehow always manage to get 50 percent off UberPOOL promotions sent my way. I have no idea why, but hey, I'll take it. And when it's a difference of $0.75 between the $2.00 (and 45 minutes) I'll spend taking the bus and a $2.75 price I pay for an UberPOOL to my doorstep, I'll admit I get a little lazy. The 75 cents seems to be a small opportunity cost to pay.
What I love about Uber is its evolution. It tells a compelling story because Uber continues to identify (and fill) gaps in the market. Just look at its string of initiatives: UberX, UberPOOL and UberEATS.
Which to me reads something like this: "UberX is the cheaper alternative and people don't have to stand outside hailing cabs in the midst of a treacherous Chicago winter; and oh, now we're going to help the environment with UberPOOL -- fewer emissions (if you're into that); AND why not add food delivery to our repertoire (because we can and we're a household name) -- UberEATS provides quality food from quality restaurants all day, every day."
Yep, sounds good to me.
And Uber completely disrupted the market, though not without a fight: Ridesharing regulation has been a hot topic in Chicago (and other cities) for several years, devastating cab drivers. In fact, sometimes it was a literal physical fight between the rivals.
Disrupting a market isn't always pretty, but the success of ridesharing spoke volumes. Something was lacking. It was time for a change in the system.
It's hard to argue with facts and economics -- there is an undying demand for this service both as a passenger and a driver. It creates jobs, flexibility, and a good/safe (in my opinion) transportation alternative.
I can probably count on one hand the number of subpar Uber experiences I've had, and trust me, I use Uber a lot, like a lot. There's something here. There's something innovative. As a lover of both business and stories, I would very much not like to be excluded from this narrative.
And, Uber is setting the stage for future technology. It's turning your phone into your wallet, and really your everything. Do you know how many times I've forgotten my wallet/credit card/public transit card, and yet, no panic. What's the big deal? I have Uber on my phone. I knew I'd get home, and the price/time commitment would not be steep.
I personally cannot wait for the day that I carry no paper or plastic. That includes my credit cards, my ID, and cash. A security issue? Probably. Makes my life easier? Definitely.
Agree? Disagree? Agree to disagree? What's your take on Uber and digital wallets?