Uber was founded in 2009 as UberCab by Garrett Camp, the cofounder of StumbleUpon, and Travis Kalanick, who had sold his Red Swoosh startup for $19 million in 2007.
Uber is headquartered in San Francisco, California, USA and today operates in 633 cities worldwide.
Uber has been a pioneer in the sharing economy and the changes in industries as a result of the sharing economy have been referred to as “Uberification”.
Uber has also been the subject of many protests and legal actions.
Kalanick joined Camp and gives him “full credit for the idea” of Uber.
The first prototype was built by Camp, and his friends, Oscar Salazar and Conrad Whelan, with Kalanick being brought on as a “mega advisor” to the company.
Following a beta launch in May 2010, Uber’s mobile app launched in San Francisco in 2011. Originally, the application only allowed users to hail a black luxury car and the price was 1.5 times that of a taxi.
In February 2010, Ryan Graves became the first Uber employee. Graves started out as general manager and shortly after the launch was named as CEO.
After ten months Kalanick succeeded Graves as CEO in December 2010. Graves stepped down to become the company’s COO.
In 2011, the company changed its name from UberCab to Uber.
During the initial development of the Uber app, the company created a think tank consisting of a nuclear physicist, a computational neuroscientist, and a machinery expert who worked on predicting demand for private hire car drivers and where demand is highest
In July 2012, the company introduced UberX, a service option which allows people to drive for Uber using their own car, subject to a background check and car requirements.
By early 2013, the service was operating in 35 cities.
The launch of the UberX service caused some dissatisfaction among existing drivers whose earnings decreased as a result of the increased competition at lower rates.
In 2015, Uber completed its 1 billionth ride
In October 2016, 40 million riders used the service in a single month and that riders spent an average of approximately $50 per month on the service.
At the beginning of 2017, Uber’s share of the United States ride hailing market was 84%.
Uber has been the subject of protests and legal action from – among others – taxi drivers and taxi companies around the world. These groups allege that Uber bypasses local licensing and safety laws and amounts to unfair competition. Taxi drivers in London, Berlin, Paris and Madrid staged a large-scale protest against Uber on June 11, 2014. In some countries, Uber drivers were also targets of attacks by taxi drivers.
On January 13, 2014, cab drivers in Paris attacked an Uber driver’s car near Charles de Gaulle Airport, protesting competition from the transportation startup.
On June 11, 2014, in a concerted action, taxis blocked roads in major European cities in protest against what they perceive as a threat to their livelihoods from companies such as Uber.
On June 25, 2015, cab drivers in Paris “locked down” Paris in an anti-Uber protest.
On March 22, 2016, thousands of taxi drivers in Jakarta demonstrated against Uber and a similar service, Grab.
On July 24, 2015, a thousand taxi drivers in Rio de Janeiro blocked traffic during the morning rush hour protesting Uber’s expansion there. (Lawmakers have voted to ban Uber in São Paulo and Brasilia.).
On August 21, 2015, Uber started operations in Costa Rica and multiple Uber drivers were immediately attacked by taxi drivers.
In Cape Town, South Africa on June 3, 2016, metered taxi drivers blockaded the road to the city’s airport and forced passengers out of vehicles while attacking Uber drivers.
On February 20, 2017, former Uber engineer Susan J. Fowler stated that she was sexually harassed by a manager and threatened with termination by another if she continued to report the incident.
CTO Thuan Pham had knowledge of Susan Fowler’s sexual harassment allegation at Uber and her manager’s threatened retaliation, and did nothing; Kalanick was also reportedly aware of the harassment issues.
On June 6, 2017, Uber announced that it fired over 20 employees as a result of the investigation. On June 13, 2017, Kalanick took an indefinite leave of absence from Uber.
On June 20, 2017, after multiple shareholders reportedly demanded his resignation, Kalanick resigned as CEO.
On September 22nd 2017, TfL and the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, announced the licence for Uber to operate in London will not be renewed due to ‘public safety and security implications’. It had come after concerns that Uber did not properly check and review their drivers and didn’t report crimes.
It will be interesting to see how Uber and the new Management team manages these issues across the globe and where its future sits.