DO NOT WRITE OFF UBER YET!!!
At the moment, it’s difficult separating the remarkable success achieved by technology billionaires from the interconnection between smartphones and browsing speed. There is no end in sight for now because people haven’t stopped being innovative, and we still have many obvious daily human challenges to solve. Companies that have benefited and still benefiting include, but not limited to; Uber, Bolt, Amazon, Airbnb, Alibaba, Instacart, Grubhub, Grab, Blablacar, WeWork, etc.
With a valuation of $50 billion+ in less than 12 years of launching, Uber has been a formidable force in the business of moving from point A to B, not that it doesn’t have its challenges. It not only disrupted the transportation industry but was one of the pioneers of the online-enabled sharing economy. One would have thought that not having a single car when it started would have been a major barrier in scaling the business. But it went ahead with its business model, and this tells you a lot about the founder's mindset — ‘more like, failure wasn’t an option’. Besides, there’s no way we’re going to talk about Uber without mentioning the trio (Garrett Camp, Oscar Salazar, and Travis Kalanick) behind the concept.
‘The first time I used the ride-booking service of Uber was an experience that would stay with me for a long time’
Uber is an advanced version of Yellow Taxi and Black Cabs in the U.S. and UK respectively, and it’s one of the biggest recruiters of drivers in the world. To book the services of some of the predecessors of Uber, you only need to stand on the roadside and flag down an oncoming vehicle with a Taxi sign or call phone numbers on cards of ‘chauffeur driven car hire companies’ often dropped at some Chicken and Chips shops for pickup. In all the available concepts, you still have access to your chauffeur, air conditioning at times, privacy, etc. With Uber, Google has been the numero uno and an outstanding asset when it comes to navigation, unlike the Black Cabs where most drivers are a ‘moving map’ & often do not require the help of a TomTom or Google maps on smartphones.
‘There have been many complaints regarding safety, and neither the passengers nor the drivers are exempted from being potential victims of crime and harassment’
The first time I used the ride-booking service of Uber was an experience that would stay with me for a long time, the memories keeps flooding my head like it was yesterday despite joining the party very late. On that fateful day in 2015, I had planned travelling out of the country and a friend promised to drive me to Heathrow instead of depending on public transport. On the day of departure, the unexpected happened, he had a flat tyre on his way to pick me up. I waited patiently for his arrival since in our plan, we included munching and drinking together at one of the restaurants in Heathrow. On arrival, I took a shot of one of my favourite cognacs (Courvoisier) and lime, while he took orange juice as my chauffeur of the day and I wouldn’t want him to ruin my day by having to be interrogated by the Police for an accident. After a few banters, the journey began. Oh-My-Days! wish I knew what I was in for, unexpectedly we had a flat tyre, and this was his second for the day, out of the blue, he brought out an extra — I asked; ‘why do you drive around with two extra tyres’, and his response was; ‘No, I don’t, I just wanted to be overly prepared for a friend’. Well, the tyre was fixed and we continued our journey, but this time around, we maintained much silence like a student reading his/her jottings few minutes before entering an exam hall — we had a goal and it was Heathrow. After a while, the car probably got tired of our silence and broke down and this time, there was no quick reviving. Honestly, everything that could go wrong went wrong. I was lucky that there was no rain, but I had bags to carry and it was doing my head in. As a Samsung lover, Google Play Store was my rescue, while my friend was arranging with a vehicle towing company. Since I was aware of the Uber app and internet wasn’t a problem, it was my first option to download. Then the thrills began just like in James Bond’s movies, I could see the movement of the car on a map until it arrived, and I was aware of the driver’s profile. The driver and I both exchanged pleasantries and we reconfirmed my itinerary before entering and moving with my friend of course. The payment procedure was magical to me, it was similar to shopping for an item on Amazon — pay when the trip ends instead of when shopping ends online. Now, we still had a few kilometres to cover but a bit relaxed and on edge at the same time, I was also sweating with the AC on. We arrived at Heathrow safely without any further delays, but there was no time to hang out, all conversation was done while on queue for check-in. But, I had to voluntarily share the cost of car repair with my friend for the trouble I put him through, and we still talk about it once in a while.
Although, despite all the good intentions of Uber to ease the stress associated with moving around, there have been many complaints regarding safety, and neither the passengers nor the drivers are exempted from being potential victims of crime and harassment. Honestly, I’ve never had any bad experience since I started using Uber, guess I’ve just been lucky and I pray the luck keeps smiling at me. Oftentimes, only a few people willingly put themselves into the arms of danger, but horror stories such as rape and mugging are quite shocking. With the in-app safety features implemented by Uber, one would have thought the tune of the sound must have changed from a jarring noise to a beautiful melody. However, this isn’t the case, the many dramas eventually led to Travis being kicked off as the CEO — This is an extremely painful moment for most founders, but if it’s going to help grow the company, why not?
Below are the lists of in-app safety features that have been implemented over the years by Uber:
- Share trip details with trusted contacts
- Access to the driving history of the Driver on the Uber platform
- Speed limit alerts
- 24/7 Customer Support
- Real-Time ID checks
- Phone Number Anonymization
- Emergency assistance — call local emergency services right from the app
- Safety Toolkit
I’ve come to realise that, for almost every solution created, there’s always a back door that can be exploited. But, that hasn’t deterred me from patronising the service of Uber. To be honest, I wouldn’t use it for the weekly commute to work, but it’s my go-to platform when hanging out with friends or when in some foreign countries on holiday. But, this doesn’t mean I’ve never tried other ride-hailing companies or I dislike their services. They all offer almost the same services apart from the tweak in some of the features.
Uber is here to stay, but it needs to stop bleeding earnings, reduce international expansion for now, and work its magic around the cost to put a smile on its shareholder's faces. Also, happy customers and drivers should be a top priority, as this might help to reduce the obstacles often encountered with regulations in different countries.
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CAREERS AT UBER:
If you’re interested in working at Uber, check the link below for jobs in Marketing, Sales, Communications, Business Development, Community Operations, Design, Data Science & Analytics, Engineering, Legal, Finance, Operations & Launch, People & Places, and Product. Others are; Public Policy, Safety & Insurance, and Security.
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