Uber Technologies Inc. is based in San Francisco, California and provides transportation and delivery services in over 600 cities around the globe. It was founded in 2009 and was called UberCab at the time, and then dropped ‘Cab’ in 2011 when things started to take off. You’ve probably used an Uber before; it’s an affordable and convenient mode of travel. Here are ten things you may not know about the company.
It Was Founded By A Dropout
Travis Kalanick, Uber co-founder, dropped out of the University of California. While it isn’t uncommon today to see very successful college dropouts, it is always interesting to learn of another successful company that has someone without a college degree behind the wheel. The other founder, Garrett Camp, is one of the founders of the social network called StumbleUpon. The friends came up with the idea while on a vacation to Paris in 2008, where they had trouble hailing a cab.
UberMOTO still operates in India, but that may be the only place where this is still an option. Instead of requesting a ride via car, riders would instead have the opportunity to take a motorcycle. It was available in Paris and Bangkok prior to its discontinuation in 2013 but was relaunched in Hyderabad at the beginning of 2017. Drivers are required to carry an additional helmet for their passengers, and this is one of the few services that allow patrons to pay with cash or through the app.
No Employee Discounts
Uber has a very lean business model. It is a very profit-driven company, and of course, that has caused some controversy in the past surrounding specific practices. One thing that they do in congruence with this business model is that they do not offer any discounts to their employees. However, technically Uber drivers are independent contractors – like freelancing, so it would make sense that there is no discount available.
Just like any other mode of transportation, be it bus, taxicab, train, plane, or cruise ship, you can bet that plenty of babies have been born in the back seat. While this is obviously an incredibly stressful occurrence for the driver and the parents alike, Uber tries to smooth things over by welcoming the baby with a gift. Every baby born in an Uber is given a special Uber onesie to celebrate. The first verifiable in-car birth was in March of 2016. The driver reportedly handled the situation so well that Uber gave him tickets to a Knicks game as a thank you.
Rating is a Two Way Street
After you complete a ride with Uber, the app will pop up with a notification on your phone asking you to rate your ride out of five stars, and leaves you space to include a comment about your driver. Drivers must maintain a rating of 4.6 stars or higher, or they risk being terminated. What many people don’t know, is that drivers rate riders too. Low points have reportedly been given for obnoxious drunks and even one teen who was disrespecting his mom in the car!
Lyft has a space when you make your payment to tip your driver, and they also encourage tipping in cash. One of the biggest selling points with Uber is that no cash is exchanged. It is all done digitally through the app on your phone that connects to your bank account. Because of this setup, most people believe that the tip is included in the fare. This isn’t the case! However, while it is polite to tip, most Uber drivers won’t take it. They’re instructed not to take the tip unless their rider absolutely insists.
Drivers Don’t Know Where You’re Headed
When you request a ride, you have to set a destination. This is an obvious necessity because that’s the entire purpose of a cab, right? But, Uber drivers don’t get to see where you’re going. All they can see is your name, rating, and some details of your request. Uber drivers will not see how much money they will earn from the drive, either. All the driver can see about the destination is the estimated length of the drive in minutes.
Apart from the strange implementation of UberMOTO, there are several other services that Uber has added to their repertoire over the years. They are committed to serving the community, according to statements given by upper-level personnel. There is UberEATS or UberFRESH, which are both food delivery services. In New York, there is also UberRUSH for package delivery, and UberPOOL. UberPOOL is a carpooling effort to try and pull some cars off the street. Two people that met on one of those rides ended up getting married! They also offered some snuggle time with adorable kittens to benefit animal shelters.
If you don’t have a car but would still like to drive for Uber, they have a program with the rental companies Hertz and Enterprise that allows you to rent a car for a base rate of just over $200 per week. You’re still responsible for taxes, fees, fuel costs, and other personal expenses incurred. A smartphone is also an integral part of working for Uber, and if you don’t have one of those, you can rent one as well. It’s $10 to $15 per week to rent one of the latest iPhones with a basic service package.
Executives Work Like Crazy
As you read earlier, Uber has a very slim model for how they do business. This tactic borders on insanely cheap. There are only three executives allowed per city, and they will handle all of Uber’s operations in that city. For some smaller cities, this seems like it would be pretty manageable; however, in the year 2015, there were almost 15,000 Uber drivers in New York City alone. When you factor in the additional services that Uber now offers, along with normal growth, that’s three people responsible for almost 10,000 employees each!