You Have Never Heard About The Startup Uber? Let Me Explain It To You

If you have never heard about Uber I can at least guess you are a more "offline" person. Besides being one of the most valuable startups nowadays, Uber has also been in the front page of a bunch of media channels because of the prohibitions and manifestations that have surrounded the company in the last years.

First of all, Uber is a platform that helps riders meet drivers through an app. It's the next generation of apps that help you find a private way of transportation. Let's understand a bit more about this generation thing.

The first generation of "driver finding" apps were the taxi apps, where through a GPS you told the app where you were and the app matched you with a nearby taxi; you could then follow up the arrival of the taxi and the ride using the app, besides paying easily with your previously registered credit card. There were not any additional perks besides sometimes a discount or special bonuses offered by the apps.

Uber is the second generation. It made possible that (almost) everyone could became a professional driver (therefore earning an extra income in the end of the month or making the driver profession the exclusive source of income of the family). That's the main issue that has generated a lot of controversies literally throughout he world. From Toronto to New YorkBrussels, Paris,  India and Sidney, the controversies are clearly not pacified yet. The core issue is that the taxi driving activity is normally regulated over the world; in order to be regularly allowed as a taxi driver someone usually has to have a specific license that in many countries require payment, time and paperwork. With Uber's arrival those taxi drivers and their supporters felt that the competition was unfair. On the other side, many say that Uber is the future of transportation and that legislation and regulation will have to adapt to this new scenario. The dispute still doesn't show signs of being nearly solved.

Despite the controversies and inflamated opinions, Uber's numbers are impressive: it's estimated that they have more than 160,000 drivers (Jan/2015) throughout the world (with an average of 50,000 new drivers per month), more than 8 million users, 290 cities and 1 million daily rides (17/12/2014).

They also offers more than one type of ride. You can choose to share your ride with other users, to embark on a normal car, on a fancy one (then you normally will get also a bottle of water and maybe magazines and / or candies at your disposal) or in a bigger vehicle where you can better storage your luggage. In all cases before actually calling the driver, you can have fare estimates and plan your budget in advance.

Uber was founded in 2009 by Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp and received $8.2B in 13 Rounds from 49 Investors.

Leaving the legal / political discussion on the side, I have to say that I have used Uber many times and that the service is great. I am on the side of those who believe that Uber is the future of transportation.

And you? Have you ever used Uber? What do you think about it? Please share your thoughts with us.


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Luiza S. Rezende
Corporate lawyer specialized in startups