While the exact origins of Uber vary depending on what you read, the company says it all began on a winter’s night in Paris in 2008 when friends and entrepreneurs Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp had trouble hailing a cab…
What’s certain is the pair were in Europe attending LeWeb, an annual tech conference, looking for their next challenge. They were both recently cashed-up and looking to invest in the next big start-up. Kalanick had sold his start-up Red Swoosh, a company that supplied websites with content, for around $20 million (£14.3m), while Camp sold his web discovery engine StumbleUpon to eBay for $75 million (£53.6m) the previous year.
Because neither Kalanick or Camp actually wanted to run the company, they brought in relativity unknown techie Ryan Graves. In June 2010 UberCab officially launched in San Francisco, working out of a tiny shared office space.
In October 2010, UberCab received a cease and desist order from the San Francisco Metro Transit Authority & the Public Utilities Commission of California for operating like a cab company without proper licensing.
In December 2010, after securing $1.25 million (£890k)-worth of investments, Graves, who had become CEO, stepped back down to general manager and the more experienced Kalanick moved into the role of CEO. Many say Kalanick had the “Steve Jobs mentality” that was needed to push the company to greater heights.
In August 2013, at just three years old, the company scored $361.2 million (£258m) in new funding – with a massive $258 million (£184m) investment from Google Ventures – and is valued at $3.7 billion (£2.6m).
In late 2014 Uber launched UberPOOL, which gives users the option of splitting the ride and cost with another person on a similar route. Recently Outkast musician Andre 3000 made headlines when he accidently chose UberPOOL but enjoyed the company of his fellow passenger so much he invited her to come along to the Kayne West recording session he was heading to. According to TMZ she met P.Diddy and French Montana.
In early 2015, the Uber Advanced Technologies Center was founded in Pittsburgh. The reason? To one day create driverless cars. CEO Kalanick told Code conference in 2104: “The reason Uber could be expensive is because you’re not just paying for the car, you’re paying for the other dude in the car”.
In April of the same year UberEATS was launched. It’s currently available in a bunch of Uber cities around the world including LA, Barcelona, Chicago and Paris. It’s an on-demand food delivery service allowing users to get their meals delivered in minutes.
In 2015 Miami Uber users were able to a score a ride with a celebrity after NFL star A.J Francis revealed he was working as an Uber driver in his offseason, picking up clients in his white Dodge Charger. Despite commanding $530,000 (£378k) from the NFL, the former Miami Dolphins defensive lineman worked 8-hour days, 3-4 days a week as a driver. The star has since been drafted by the Seattle Seahawks, but there’s no word if he’ll be taking his services there.
On Christmas Eve 2015 in London, a $7 (£5) ride became the company’s billionth Uber trip. To celebrate, the customer, a man called Marvin, received a year’s worth of free rides while the driver Ara got a vacation to any Uber city in the world. And the district where the ride was taken, Hackney, received a donation for a local charity.
To celebrate National Cat Day in the US, Uber teamed up with animal charities to offer UberKITTENS where people in 50 cities had the chance to buy 15 minutes of cuddly, furry bliss with homeless kittens. The sessions cost $30 (£21.40).
And they didn’t forget the dog lovers out there. UberPUPPIES landed in Australia last month, teaming up with local shelters delivering puppies to eight cities across the country. A 15-minute cuddle session set customers back $40 (£28.5), with all money going to the shelters.
Forget regular cars, motorbikes are Uber’s latest business model. Showing how adaptable they are to various markets around the world, they recently released UberMOTO in gridlocked Bangkok where rush-hour traffic grinds the city to a halt.
Showing just how much the company is growing, Uber is upgrading to a fancy new HQ. Located in San Francisco’s Mission Bay the 423,000-square foot office is expected to be open for business in late 2017.
What started out as a simple idea to get a ride around the city is now a business worth $62.5 billion (£44.6bn). Since starting the company Camp(left) and Kalanick have joined the billionaires’ club, worth $6.2 billion (£4.4bn) each!