Uber erupted onto the global stage in the early 2010s as the most aggressive of a new breed of digital disrupters, overturning traditional service models with an economic model underpinned by innovative technology. In Uber's case it was to transform the established taxi-hailing business with an easy-to-use app that seamlessly connected riders with drivers anywhere in the world. Founders Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp first began testing the service in 2010 in San Francisco. After several refinements, and multiple injections of investment capital, Uber launched officially in that city and in New York the following year. A full global roll-out began in 2012, starting in Paris, and by mid-2018, Uber's taxi service was active in more than 700 cities worldwide. There are also a number of spin-off services including carpool shared rides, bicycle messengers and Uber Eats restaurant deliveries. The company surpassed 1 billion rides at the beginning of 2016, and then 2 billion rides only six months later. By late 2018, the cumulative total was over 10bn and rising at a rate of around 14m per day. The company has also invested heavily in partnerships with auto manufacturers to explore the introduction of self-driving cars. More seriously, though, there were a series of ever more bruising run-ins with regulators, rivals, and even the company's own investors, prompted in part by Uber's aggressive, male-dominated workplace culture which usually chose to ride roughshod over any perceived opposition. These problems reached crisis point during the second half of 2016 as a result of damaging allegations of sexual and verbal harassment, the abrupt resignation or dismissal of several senior managers, and Uber's forced withdrawal from several key markets as a result of competitive pressure or regulatory bans. Mid-2017, Uber's private equity backers demanded that co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick step down from the company. His successor Dara Khosrowshahi spent much of his first six months fighting fires in multiple global markets, as he began to prepare the business for its IPO, which finally took place in 2019. Uber's revenues have continued to soar, though growth has slowed a little. Gross bookings have grown sixfold in four years, topping $65bn in 2019. Net revenues rose 26% to $14.1bn, but losses spiralled to $8.5bn as a result of a huge payout in stock-based compensation.
Capsule checked 18th February 2019
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Who are the competitors of Uber? Uber's main rival in North America is Lyft; international rivals include Yandex in Russia, Didi in China, Grab in other Asian markets, MyTaxi in Europe, Gett and Addison Lee in the UK and Ola in India. See Services Sector index for other companies
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Recent stories from Adbrands Update:
Adbrands Daily Update 8th Dec 2020: Uber is quitting a direct role in self-driving cars with the sale of its loss-making autonomous vehicle division to smaller specialist Aurora Innovation. Most of the 1,200 staff in Uber's self-driving division will transfer to Aurora, tripling the size of that company. Uber will also invest $400m in the combined business in return for a 26% shareholding. Uber had originally conceived self-driving cars as the core of its future strategy, but that business has suffered several setbacks, not least when one of its cars struck and killed a pedestrian in Utah in 2018. The company has divested several of its less lucrative sidelines in recent years in a bid to break into profit for the first time.
Adbrands Daily Update 28th Sep 2020: Uber got a full pardon from regulators in London, for now at least. Transport for London agreed to award a new 18-month license to operate after a judge found that the company had resolved the various safety and regulatory issues that had threatened to lead to a full ban.
Adbrands Daily Update 22nd Sep 2020: "Tonight I'll Be Eating...". Mark Hamill takes on Sir Patrick Stewart in a battle of sci-fi royalty! Australian indie agency Special Group somehow managed to persuade the two knights of fantasy entertainment to poke fun at themselves in this deliciously absurd campaign for Uber Eats Down Under. The renowned stars of Star Wars, Star Trek Next Gen and X-Men regale us with descriptions of the meals they just ordered for delivery while battling one another in unusual sports. This is a concept that could run and run.
Adbrands Daily Update 6th Jul 2020: Having lost GrubHub to a higher offer from JustEat Takeaway.com, Uber switched its attention last week to Postmates, currently the smallest of the major US food delivery firms. A deal was finally agreed at $2.65bn in shares. Postmates is strongest in Los Angeles and the US South West. The brand will continue to operate separately from Uber Eats, but under the overall control of the latter's CEO Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty. The combined business would have around 37% national share by spend, according to market watcher Edison Trends. DoorDash remains local leader at 45% while Grubhub has 17%.
Adbrands Daily Update 12th May 2020: Uber has seen revenues from its core business collapse under the global Coronavirus lockdown, even as business has soared for food delivery arm Uber Eats. To counter than imbalance, Uber has offered to acquire smaller deliveries rival GrubHub. News of the approach caused publicly quoted GrubHub's stock to soar by more than a third. Deal price is expected to value GrubHub in the region of $6bn. Uber has more than enough muscle to fund an all-stock merger of the two businesses: its own valuation has also risen to around $55bn. The combination - if its goes through - would unseat current local leader DoorDash, which had around 42% of national meal delivery sales in March 2020, according to researcher Second Measure. GrubHub was next with 28% while Uber Eats had 20%. However, there is a wide regional variation. GrubHub dominates the New York metropolitan market with 62% share, while DoorDash has a similar near-monopoly of San Francisco at 65%, and Uber Eats is strongest in Miami where it has 56% share. [Updated: Those talks ended without agreement and instead GrubHub accepted an offer to be acquired by JustEat Takeaway.com for over $7bn.]
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