After a pilot program in New York, Uber makes UberRUSH an official part of the company, and expands the service to Chicago and San Francisco. The company delivers items like groceries, take-out food, and house supplies, and competes with Postmates.
In hundreds of cities across the globe, you can press a button and get a ride in minutes. Now, through UberRUSH, business owners can use that same technology to get customers pretty much anything in minutes.
Uber’s Uber Partner app is found to inadvertently give anyone access to scanned documents for almost 1,000 drivers. The material includes high-resolution pictures of drivers licenses, W-9 tax forms, livery car company articles of incorporation, and other sensitive personal documents—many of which contain social security numbers. Uber:
As soon as we were made aware of this we immediately fixed it.
Rio de Janeiro’s Mayor Paes signs a bill banning Uber. Uber has over 5,000 drivers and 500,000 users since launching in Brazil a year ago, and aggression by politicians and taxi drivers has been mounting. To celebrate the signing, Paes drives around in a taxi picking up random passengers. Paes:
I can’t drive Uber, it’s illegal.
To please taxi owners, Mayor Paes sanctioned a completely unconstitutional law that is trying to ban technology from the city, leaving cariocas with less options to get around. We are now looking at appropriate legal measures. Uber believes that the service our partner drivers provides is completely legal and supported by federal law.
Francis signs up to become an Uber driver.
A unnamed Uber driver, who had a concealed-carry gun license, fires six shots, wounding 22-year-old Everardo Custodio, who had pulled a handgun out and started firing at the crowd of people walking in Chicago at midnight. It is still unknown whether Custodio he was trying to target any one person. Responding officers found Custodio lying on the ground, bleeding, Quinn said. No other injuries were reported. No charges are filed against the driver.
As concern increases over the security of its passengers and drivers, Uber is taking measures to address safety concerns. This includes forming round-the-clock response teams that consist of specially trained groups who will investigate safety issues. Uber is also forming a safety advisory board comprised of independent experts who will review Uber’s practices and who will advise on adding safety features. In addition, the background-check standards of Uber’s drivers are being elevated. The company has also established a new code of conduct.
New York City suspends five of six Uber bases after Uber refuses to give the Taxi and Limousine Commission its ride records. Uber statement:
Uber continues to operate legally in New York City, with tens of thousands of partner drivers and hundreds of thousands of riders relying on the Uber platform for economic opportunity and safe, reliable rides. We are continuing a dialogue with the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission on these issues.
Williams claims she was sexually harassed by her Uber driver in her driveway. Uber suspends the driver. Williams tweets:
Kaitlin Darkish, an Uber spokesperson:
Uber has zero tolerance for this behavior, and we apologize to Ms. Williams for this terrible experience. We immediately deactivated the driver, and have begun an investigation.
Uber has filed at least 13 patent applications, one of which seeks to protect and patent its surge pricing technology. The system measures supply and demand and prices fares accordingly. Ten of the applications have been rejected but surge pricing is still in process. John Martin, chief executive officer of Innography Inc., an Austin, Texas-based maker of software to analyze patent portfolios:
Cabs have been around for centuries. What is new, and what they’re trying to capture around some of their filings, is the arrangement between the rider and the car.
Alejandro Done is charged with rape, kidnapping and other charges for allegedly strangling and sexually assaulting a woman after picking her up in Boston and presenting himself as the Uber driver. Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan:
This alleged predator took advantage of a young woman who trusted that he was who he portrayed himself to be and exploited her vulnerability once he had her in his car.
Uber activates their surge pricing during the Sydney, Australia hostage crisis ostensibly in an effort to encourage more drivers onto the road.
Uber caps the surge pricing during the Sydney hostage crisis, saying the surge pricing model is automated, based on demand. Rides are free for passengers but paid out to the drivers at surge rates.
Uber offers a woman who claims she was sexually harassed during her ride a refund. In an e-mail exchange with Uber, the unidentified woman details her experience while using the taxi service company in London.
Towards the end of the journey he was asking if I liked blow jobs, saying that he was very good at going down on girls or giving “sucky sucky” to girls and did I want him to do it to me. He even suggested that he could pull over into a side street and do it now if I wanted, which was I think the scariest part of the drive. I am aware that this kind of thing becomes very much a he-said, she-said kind of deal, but I did want to make you aware of it as I feel that people really trust the Uber name (as I do) and my trust was completely violated. I am pretty relaxed and outgoing and I feel that I can take care of myself, and if I felt so uncomfortable I dread to think how a more timid girl would have felt. I won’t be taking this any further but I do implore you to take this quite seriously as I worry for other women who could find themselves in a similar situation.
Any driver who is accused of acting inappropriately is suspended from the platform while an investigation is undertaken. We would of course refund a trip if an incident had occurred or the rider was not happy.
Uber removes one of its drivers in Chicago following allegations of sexual assault. Chicago police are investigating the incident. Uber spokeswoman Jennifer Mullin:
This is an appalling and unacceptable incident, and first and foremost our thoughts are with the victim and her family.
A judge puts a temporary ban on Uber in Spain following complaints by the Madrid Taxi Association that claim Uber is unfair competition. Uber says it is still operating in the country as The Madrid Taxi Association needs to raise a €10,000 down-payment before the ruling can come into effect. Uber statement:
UberPop is our ride-sharing solution and is about sharing the costs of vehicle ownership and helping people give up their cars and we will continue to run the service. This ruling is inconsistent with broad political acknowledgement in Spain and across the European Union on the benefits of sharing economy services. Uber will continue to comply with Spanish law and is currently assessing its legal options under this sudden and unusual proceeding.
The district attorneys of San Francisco and Los Angeles Counties file suit against Uber, citing Uber’s driver screening process as the issue. George Gascón, the District Attorney of San Francisco:
Uber does not go above and beyond local requirements in every city in which it operates. You are not using an industry-leading background process if you are not fingerprinting your drivers.
Uber spokeswoman Eva Behrend:
Californians and California lawmakers all agree — Uber is an integral, safe and established part of the transportation ecosystem in the Golden State.
Uber is banned in Delhi after a 26-year-old woman claims she used the smartphone app to book a taxi, then was taken to a secluded area and raped. Government statement:
(The) Transport Department has banned all activities relating to providing any transport service by the www.Uber.com with immediate effect.
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick:
Our entire team’s hearts go out to the victim of this despicable crime. We will do everything, I repeat, everything to help bring this perpetrator to justice and to support the victim and her family in her recovery.
The city of Portland, Oregon sues Uber to stop the company from operating until it complies with local regulations. Portland’s statement:
The city’s lawsuit is asking for a declaration by the court that Uber is subject to the city’s regulations. The lawsuit also asks the court to order Uber to stop operating in Portland until it is in compliance with the city’s safety, health and consumer protection rules.
Uber spokeswoman Eva Behrend:
Uber has received a tremendously warm welcome from riders and drivers in and around Portland. We appreciate the way residents have welcomed Uber into the Rose City, their support illustrates why it’s time to modernize Portland transportation regulation.
Howarth is interviewed for the Australian Broadcasting Corp. youth channel’s Hack program, and says Uber X – not Uber Black or Uber Livery – are exploiting drivers and operating against the law in several states of Australia. Asked if he is working with any other ridesharing or ridesourcing apps he indicates that he may have an arrangement with Uber’s competitors including Lyft. He says he is offering drivers that he citizens arrests the opportunity to work with other companies and make more money while also becoming ‘legitimate.’ Asked by host Tom Tilley if he stands to profit from other companies taking market share away from Uber:
Cabcharge, the main taxi payments provider in Australia, says Uber is illegal and possibly dangerous. Cabcharge official:
UberX ride sharing is dangerous, unsupervised and as the NSW government has said, illegal. [Australian state] governments need to do something about it [..] Uber is an offshore entity that does not pay any tax here. It also appears to facilitate tax avoidance.
Howarth, a hire car driver and former UK Riot Police officer recognizable for his long beard, has been making citizens arrests of UberX drivers across Sydney and has promised to arrest at least five a day. He says he uses ‘minimum required force’ that may include tactics such as wrist locks to ensure ‘immediate pain and compliance’. Video obtained by the Sydney Morning Herald shows that at one point he was confronted by O’Sullivan, Uber’s operations director for Australia, who he says located him by ‘listening in’ over the app when he booked an Uber X car to the Star Casino with the intention of making the arrest. An Australian Uber spokesman tells ninemsn that the cars don’t have listening devices and his claims bear ‘no relation to reality’. Spokesman:
Russell claims to represent a taxi industry that has not faced any competition in decades and, through its association with Mr Howarth, is now resorting to open intimidation and threats of force to those who dare to provide an alternative service
Howarth was previously an Uber X driver but says he left as the company is breaking the law and exploiting drivers:
I thought ‘I am not going to be a part of this lie’. Can you imagine if it happened in another regulated industry? If I said ‘I’m going to open an Uber-pub and sell $2 Coronas 24/7? I’d be amazed if the government allowed that to happen.
A leaked presentation shows strong growth and metrics, with San Francisco alone generating $18 million in December 2013. Annual run rate based on the December 2013 data indicates revenue of about $1 billion from its top five markets (NY City, D.C., San Francisco, Chicago and Los Angeles), and it had an $11 million day on Dec. 31 across 60 markets. Business Insider doesn’t say where it obtained the deck.
Kalanick responds to the controversy over Michael’s comments in a series of tweets saying that the remarks were ‘terrible’ and don’t represent Uber’s views. He apologizes to Lacy, and says Michael should learn from his mistake.
In a Feacebook post, Scoble says Kalanick should resign:
When I first started work at Microsoft an exec pulled me aside and told me how I could get fired. Pissing off journalists and analysts were very high on the list. This is how culture gets translated.
It is why I now believe Travis Kalanick has to go. It is the only way to reboot the culture there and have Uber regain its loved status…This company has deeply wounded itself. The investors should insist that Travis go. Then it should repair its relationship with Sarah Lacy and it should be made clear that being anti journalist or anti woman will not be tolerated at all. This wound is a lot deeper than I thought and IS changing consumer behavior. Travis, if I were you I would resign and help your company heal.
Lacy responds to Michael’s comments:
No, these new attacks threatened to hit at my only vulnerability. The only part of my life that I’d do anything to protect: My family and my children. In that moment outside an Indian restaurant in London, I stood numb listening to Smith asking me if I had a comment, and I thought of my kids. They were somewhere covered in kitten and dinosaur pajamas giggling and running through the house in a last ditch effort to fight bedtime. Maybe they were looking up at the moon, remembering how many times I’ve told them I’d always be somewhere looking at the same moon even if I couldn’t be there to rock them.
And criticizes the company culture.
And lest you think this was just a rogue actor and not part of the company’s game plan, let me remind you Kalanick telegraphed exactly this sort of thing when he sat on stage at the Code Conference last spring and said he was hiring political operatives whose job would be to “throw mud.” I naively thought he just meant Taxi companies. Let me also remind you: This is a company you trust with your personal safety every single time you use it. Let me also remind you: The executive in question has not been fired.
She lists the investors in Uber and says she will contact each of them directly.
Smith reports that, at a dinner at Manhattan’s Waverly Inn, hosted by Iam Osborne, and attended by Edward Norton and publisher Arianna Huffington, Michael outlines the notion of spending “a million dollars” to hire four top opposition researchers and four journalists. That team could, he said, help Uber fight back against the press:
[they’d look into] your personal lives, your families,” and give the media a taste of its own medicine.
Michael expresses outrage at Lacy, who had recently accused Uber of “sexism and misogyny,” and who had wrote of deleting her Uber app after the company hired french prostitutes to promote its service in France.
At the dinner, Michael expressed outrage at Lacy’s column and said that women are far more likely to get assaulted by taxi drivers than Uber drivers. He said that he thought Lacy should be held “personally responsible” for any woman who followed her lead in deleting Uber and was then sexually assaulted. Then he returned to the opposition research plan. Uber’s dirt-diggers, Michael said, could expose Lacy. They could, in particular, prove a particular and very specific claim about her personal life. Michael at no point suggested that Uber has actually hired opposition researchers, or that it plans to. He cast it as something that would make sense, that the company would be justified in doing.
In a statement through Uber Monday evening, Michael says he regretted them and that they didn’t reflect his or the company’s views.
The remarks attributed to me at a private dinner — borne out of frustration during an informal debate over what I feel is sensationalistic media coverage of the company I am proud to work for — do not reflect my actual views and have no relation to the company’s views or approach. They were wrong no matter the circumstance and I regret them.
Nitasha Tiku of Gawker sister site Valleywag publishes a 3,000-word article on alleged subprime car loans are being pushed through Uber’s Vehicle Financing Program. Uber marketing material:
Even if you have bad credit or no credit at all, we can help you get behind the wheel in a week . . . The down payment is as little as a few weeks of earnings on Uber and you’ll have access to serious savings . . . We’ve created a program designed for those with poor credit.
While Toyota and General Motors are among those partnering on the financing service a major point of controversy is apparently the participation by financing provider Santander. Among news articles, comments from forums devoted to Uber drivers, an Uber sub-Reddit, and direct interviews with drivers, she quotes Youtube user UberMan, who publishes information for ridesharing drivers:
You get this nice little email from Uber saying, ‘Guess what, you are approved for our special financing’ […] Stay away. Delete the email, you don’t need to read it. Don’t even log on, do not be enticed, do not get drawn in by their gimmicks, they make it sound great, but at the end of the day, they are screwing you over.
Lyft is reported to have started a program to get drivers to buy tricked-out Ford Explorers then canceled the program several months in, offering a rebate of $10,000 on a $37,500 truck.
Uber and Harvard Medical School’s Vaccine Finder program test an on-demand flu shot service. From 10am-3pm E.T. Uber drivers will drive a registered nurse to deliver and inject the shot to customers anywhere within the three test cities of New York, Boston, and Washington. A registered meeting place must be set up with the nurse. No insurance card is required. Harvard professor John Brownstein, who pitched the program to Uber:
[It has] huge potential [to] deliver more convenience into delivery of care.
He says it can also provide a precedent for crisis situations:
[You] don’t necessarily want people crowding and traversing cities to get access to vaccines.
New York state officials are monitoring four people who had contact with Spencer. His fiancee and two friends are healthy but have been quarantined. The fourth person is who is in contact with the state is the driver of an Uber car that Spencer took when he bowling Wednesday night in Williamsburg. The driver had no direct contact with Spencer, and is not believed to be in any danger.
Uber says it will pay any fines incurred by UberX drivers ruled to be operating illegally in the Western Australian capital city of Perth. Uber W.A. state general manager Simon Rossi:
As Uber has done and always will, we stand behind our drivers 100 per cent.
The company also has apparently banned State transport officials from using the smartphone app to prevent them from detecting drivers. Asked if it had black-listed the inspectors, Rossi:
Arrington and Kalanick talk onstage at Disrupt San Francisco about Uber’s scrappy reputation, global growth, and Plouffe’s role as campaign manager. Arrington:
A guy like you shouldn’t even have a car.
I haven’t driven in a while.
The South Australian state government says the ridesharing service is illegal and its drivers should expect to be fined. State Treasurer to Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio:
People get into taxis and hire cars late at night, they may have had a bit to drink (or) they may have had a very, very big night. It’s a very dangerous option to take an Uber service – you don’t know who’s driving the car. You don’t know if the car has been checked and, most importantly, we can’t know when you got into that car and where you got out of that car or where you were meant to go.
The comments come three days after Uber held its launch party in the state, with the captians of the Adelaide and Port Adelaide Australian Football teams sharing the first ride.
Forbes lays out the bear case for Uber, noting its recent valuation of $18.2 billion per its $1.2 billion funding round makes it bigger than United Airlines and Hertz:
A world with less pollution and no traffic jams, where taxis are cheap and safe and you never have to wait for a pickup: It’s a rosy vision Uber is peddling, and venture capitalists, those professional optimists, are fully on board.
Several finance experts see those valuations as inflated and say the service could easily lose ground to competitors given low barriers to entry:
The scenario implied by Uber’s valuation is only one way things could break.
Regulators could restrict the company and cities could ban it outright, while black swan events like a driverless car or non-profit collective could pose challenges down the road.
Uber acknowledges that it is ‘not respecting [a] law’ in WA that requires small charter vehicle (SCVs) drivers to charge a minimum $60 fare. The company’s Asia-Pacific managing director Mike Brown says the company is an intermediary like eBay connecting people to a service, and describes how it sees the disregarding of the transport regulation:
State Transport Minister Dean Nalder says the department tried to work with Uber but the company has decided to go it alone:
I can see the positives of the app, but there is a huge marketing effort behind the company, it’s a little bit overrated and can be easily replicated.
He warns Uber drivers — known as ‘partners’ — that they can be fined $2,000 and stripped of their driver’s licence if they don’t obey the minimum fare rule.
Thousands of taxi drivers in London, Paris, Madrid, Berlin and other major European cities protest by staging a slow-down that snarls traffic, in some cases, for much of the afternoon. In Rio de Janeiro, dozens of taxis line up and drive slowly down the Copacabana beachfront. A London cab driver says:
There’s room for everyone, but you have to obey the law. Uber isn’t properly regulated. It’s a slippery slope. Quality of life will go down if these services are allowed to operate.
The company’s regional general manager for northern Europe says:
In Paris, the number of taxis hasn’t changed since the 1950s. The strikes are an attempt to desperately fight against competition in the market.
Uber Confirms raising a $1.2 billion round of venture capital funding, putting the company’s total pre-money valuation at $17 billion, up from $3.5 billion last year. The new financing is led by Fidelity Investments and includes Wellington Management, Summit Partners, BlackRock Inc. and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, as well as current investors Google Ventures and Menlo Ventures. CEO says:
This is about capitalizing for the opportunities that we see ahead of ourselves. If you can make it economical for people to get out of their cars or sell their cars, and turn transportation into a service, it´s a pretty big deal.
The financing round is still open to unnamed strategic partners who might want to invest another $200 million.
The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles tells the company and another ride-share service to stop operating in violation of the law or their drivers will face a civil fine of up to $1,000 per violation. The state’s secretary of transportation says:
I actually like their business model in terms of giving more flexibility to the public, but there are some issues they need to work on and some laws that we need to change.
In a blog post, the company responds:
Uber will operate as usual…We are surprised and disappointed by the DMV’s actions.
London taxi drivers will meet at a yet-to-be-named London landmark in early June to protest what they see as unfair competition from Uber. Steve McNamara, whose Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association’ represents almost half of London’s 24,000 drivers said:
ll we’re saying is if you want to come to London and operate the business model you’re operating, you should operate within our laws.This is about a good old British sense of fair play. It’s not cricket. For me to persuade 10,000 guys to take a day off work shows you the strength of feeling.
Uber says it holds the license for private hire cars in London and adheres to all of Transport for London’s regulations. TfL said that while it’s investigating Uber’s operating model, it has no evidence to suggest that Uber isn’t fit to hold a license.
The state government is the second in Australia to rule that Uber doesn’t currently adhere to state laws. Transport Minister Scott Emerson:
The department is working with Uber to outline what safety regulations it needs to meet in order to operate in Queensland, including driver authorisation, which includes detailed criminal history checks, vehicle standards and taxi licences.
State Premier Campbell Newman:
I do have some concerns over the whole thing. I’ve got daughters, 19 and 21, I would prefer them catching a cab because I know about all the safeguards, cameras, trained drivers, GPS locations of cabs real-time. Yes, [Uber] has safeguards in there as well, but I’d prefer to use a ridgy-didge cab.
Australia’s biggest state by population declares that ridesharing apps contravene the Passenger Transport Act. Uber has been testing Uber X in Sydney for a few weeks at the time of the announcement. State transport department:
The law is clear and has not changed: if a NSW driver is taking paying members of the public as passengers, the driver and the vehicle must operate in accordance with the Passenger Transport Act
Calcanis and Kalanick have their first interview in four years, talking about Uber’s expansion plans, and a new feature of a push notification to let customers know when surge pricing periods are about to end. Kalanick says Uber now provides more than half the total rides in San Francisco, although he doesn’t give specific numbers. Kalanick talks about being an entrepreneur:
You’re afraid of failure, you do the best you can, but you really need to have the perseverance, the stamina, the hard core, to just make it through
After legal battles with the company and other ride-sharing services, the California Public Utilities Commission decides to create a new service category of transportation network company and to regulate such services. Drivers will need CPUC permits. They must also undergo criminal background checks and pass a company driver training program. Companies must pay the CPUC one-third of one percent of total revenues, as well as implement a zero-tolerance drug and alcohol policy and maintain commercial liability insurance policies that cover not less than $1 million per incident. The CPUC will revisit the ruling in a year to see what its impact has been on business and society.
Arrington moderates a debate at LeWeb London between Kalanick and Pishevar of Uber and Valkin and Bregman from the London-based HailoCab app, including on market strategies and legal restrictions. Arrington:
Hailo’s clearly just a cheap knockoff.
Pishevar explains that HailoCab deals only with licensed cabs, and started on Nov. 1, 2011. He says passengers have already booked more than a million miles on London black cabs.
After the company raises $32 million from investors, UberEurope and UberParis go live. Travis Kalanick blogs:
Today marks a big milestone for Uber. It is the culmination of everything we’ve done over the last 18 months and the cornerstone for the next phase of the company, making Uber a global transportation and logistics brand…We aspire to build an urban logistics fabric in every major city in the world – and we now have the traction and proof points to give our dream a shot at reality.
After receiving cease-and-desist orders from the California Public Utilities Commission and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, the company renames itself Uber to avoid the appearance of marketing itself as a taxi business. The company’s CEO says:
Regarding our legal situation, we’re working cooperatively with both agencies to ensure compliance and make sure that Uber continues to grow and serve our users. Uber is fully operational today.
Service opens in San Francisco with Ryan Graves at the helm and a fleet of 45 drivers. When interviewed four and a half months later in UberCab headquarters (a conference room with four other employees), Graves says that the business is growing “crazy fast.” The company’s general plan is to get more employees, more happy users and more platforms, as well as to expand into more cities.
The Company does its first test run in New York with three cars cruising the SOHO/Chelsea/Union Square areas and a few people using the system. The core crew is Garrett, Kalanick, and Salazar, Garrett’s friend from Grad school who helped build the prototype in early 2009.
Garrett Camp and Travis Kalanick found the company as UberCab – a marketplace that connects riders with private drivers via a smartphone app. Their January 2009 Flickr photostream includes multiple views of a Mercedes-Benz S-class sedan, advertising images and a map of part of downtown San Francisco.