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February 19 2014


February 14 2014

Uber, Chauffeur-Privé And Others Can’t Recruit New Drivers In France For The Next Two Months
8493583277_3360dc45ac_bThe conflict between taxi drivers and urban transportation startups in France is not over — the French government has put a stop to new limo driver licenses for the next two months. This decision comes after a strike organized by taxi drivers on Monday. An arbitrer was appointed on Wednesday to find a solution for the longstanding opposition between taxi drivers and so-called black car services. In other words, startups will have to fight for the same drivers for now — the pool of drivers won’t be increasing. For example, Chauffeur-Privé will have to lure Uber drivers so that they switch to Chauffeur-Privé. As a reminder, the cab industry is very regulated in France. There is a fixed amount of licenses available. If you want to become a cab driver, you have to purchase a taxi license from an existing driver. These licenses can cost up to $270,000 (€200,000). Cab drivers consider LeCab, Chauffeur-privé, SnapCar, Allocab, Uber and countless of others as direct competitors — it’s much cheaper to get a limo driver license. Taxi Drivers say it’s unfair, and that taxi licenses will lose a lot of value due to urban transportation startups. In December, the government created the 15-minute law for Uber, Chauffeur-Privé and others. Drivers had to wait 15 minutes between the time a customer hails them and they let them in the car. Most startups didn’t even try to comply with the rule, and it was recently suspended by the Conseil d’État. Taxi driver unions said that they would regularly go on strike to protest that decision. The government had to do something so that startups and taxi drivers could talk again. That’s why Thomas Thévenoud was appointed. He is in charge of finding a “fair and durable solution that will benefit everyone while taking into account the different needs in terms of urban transportation.” It’s no small feat. The situation in Paris will be the main issue as there is a dearth of taxi drivers in Paris. He plans to present a solution in exactly two months. But for now, a limo license freeze doesn’t seem like a “fair and durable solution.” (Photo credit: Maxime Bonzi)
Former Groupon Product SVP Jeff Holden Joins Uber As Chief Product Officer
jeffholden-linkedinWell that was fast. Just a few days after it was revealed that Groupon product chief Jeff Holden was leaving the daily deals giant to join a “Bay Area tech company,” we now know where he has landed. Uber announced this morning that it has hired Holden as its new Chief Product Officer.

February 05 2014

Council Of State Suspends 15-Minute Law Against Uber, LeCab And Others In France
8493583277_3360dc45ac_bFrance’s Conseil d’État suspended the controversial decree against urban transportation services like Uber and LeCab. As a reminder, since January 1, drivers have had to wait 15 minutes between the time a customer hails them and they let them in the car. But it created a competitive imbalance, that’s why the rule was just suspended. The French authority will now have to state whether this law should be completely repealed. In France, the cab industry is very regulated, and taxi licenses are hard to obtain. Over the past few years, the French government has been very understanding with cab drivers as they have the ability to block airports and city centers. Many cab drivers started to consider LeCab, Chauffeur-privé, SnapCar, Allocab, Uber and countless of others as direct competitors — they wanted something from the government. In December, the government created this 15-minute law — it had many enemies. In hindsight, suspending the rule might have been the plan all along. It was just a nice gesture for cab drivers. The Competition Authority thought it was a bad idea. “This competitive imbalance is not necessary to protect the taxi monopoly on this market. Moreover, it potentially contradicts the objective to improve free traffic flow,” the report said. Multiple transportation companies immediately contested the government’s decision and thought they had a good chance of winning. SnapCar and Uber didn’t even try to comply with the rule. Others like Allocab and Chauffeur-privé complied — Allocab suffered from many cancellations and revenue dropped. Finally, cab drivers weren’t even satisfied with the new rule. They protested to obtain a 30-minute delay, minimum fares of $82 (€60) and a driver recruitment ban — they even attacked Uber cars during the protest. Now, urban transportation companies don’t have to comply with the 15-minute rule, Uber is getting even more aggressive in Paris with its new UberPOP service, and cab drivers plan to protest again in March and in April. In other words, everything is back to normal in France: startups iterate and cab drivers protest. (Photo credit: Maxime Bonzi)
Fair Competition Or Foul Play? More Evidence Surfaces In The Unfolding Case Of Uber Vs. Gett
1_TaxiArriving_NYCIf we’ve said it once, we’ll say it again: Competition can get pretty fierce in the world of on-demand transportation. Consumer demand for better, faster and more convenient car services has exploded and top startups are racing to meet the opportunity. As an early mover in the space, Uber is used to pushing back against unwelcoming opposition, and fighting unions, legislators and more as it’s grown. However, as we reported last week, an Uber competitor made it clear that the company’s “aggressive tactics” may have finally gone too far. Gett, formerly GetTaxi, brought a rival black car service to New York City for the first time this fall. Soon thereafter, it crossed a $100 million annual run rate thanks to its growing international presence. The startup’s entrance into an already hyper-competitive New York market did not go unnoticed. As we reported, over the course of three days during the week of January 13th, Gett alleged that Uber employees launched the “real world” equivalent of a DDoS, or denial-of-service, attack, ordering and canceling more than 100 of its cars. Evidence provided to TechCrunch at the time showed that more than one dozen Uber employees had worked simultaneously to request rides from its competitor, waiting until the cars had almost arrived before canceling their orders. Having obtained drivers’ numbers as a result of ordering the rides through the app, Uber employees then texted as many of the Gett drivers they could in an attempt to recruit them, offering cash incentives to those who would switch into its camp. From Gett’s perspective, this was “uncool” for a number of reasons, chief of which was the disruption of its new business. To Uber’s credit, it responded with a public apology, admitting that it had attempted to recruit Gett drivers, saying that its “local teams can be pretty determined when spreading the word about Uber and how our platform opens up new economic opportunities for drivers.” While that could have been the end of it (and perhaps should have been), Gett isn’t satisfied. The startup heard Uber’s apology acknowledging that it screwed up — but saw that apology as more of an appeasement measure aimed at customers and vocal opponents on Twitter. Uber said in its statement that members of its New York team had made these requests to “generate leads of independent contractors” but had in fact “cancelled those requests seconds later,” and did

February 04 2014

Look Out Lyft, Uber Is Getting Serious About Ride-Sharing With UberPOP In Paris
5559594539_aa14f688d4_oUrban transportation company Uber just announced a brand new offering for Paris called UberPOP — and it looks a lot like Lyft. It’s a cheaper ride-sharing service built right into the Uber app. Everybody can become a driver. While UberX is already available in Paris, it is more or less similar to the traditional Uber offering with mid-range black cars (think Audi A4 and Peugeot 508). If you want a top-of-the-line Mercedes and Audi car, you need to order an Uber. In other words, when you order and UberX, you still get luxurious cars as the French law doesn’t allow black car drivers to drive small cars. UberX is still restricted to professional drivers in Paris — the service is a bit cheaper, but not cheap. Instead of recruiting non-professional UberX drivers like in California, and forcing them to use big cars like other UberX drivers, the company chose to create a brand new service, UberPOP. This way, the company can allow smaller cars and cut prices again. For example, to go from Opéra to Hôtel de Ville, you will pay €7 with UberPOP instead of €10 with UberX and €14 with Uber — UberPOP is 30 percent cheaper than UberX in this case. The service will be available tomorrow. UberPOP might be a real-world test for other cities, including in the U.S. While France is a very particular market because of its legislation, separating ride-sharing drivers who don’t have a taxi or limo license from professional drivers from the UberX program might make things clearer for the customer and allow the company to cut prices again. To become a driver, you will have to be at least 21 with a 3-year-old driver’s license. You also must pass a background check. As a customer, you can expect a Volkswagen Polo or a Citroën C3 (pictured above) and bottled water. Passengers are encouraged to sit up front. It remains to be seen whether Uber can keep the same service quality with ride-sharing drivers. Uber is available in two cities in France: Paris and Lyon. But London and Paris are the two biggest markets in the world for the company if you exclude the U.S. As Lyft, Sidecar and other ride-sharing alternatives are only available in the U.S., Uber takes great pleasure in saying that it is the first company to provide a ride-sharing offering outside of the U.S. The news comes

January 24 2014

Black Car Competitor Accuses Uber Of DDoS-Style Attack; Uber Admits Tactics Are “Too Aggressive”
screen-shot-2013-12-25-at-2-26-16-pmCompetition is fierce in the world of on-demand transportation. The consumer demand for better, more convenient car service has exploded over the last two years, and startups services are racing to capitalize. In fact, the race is now so heated that it seems some companies are willing to try anything to put the brakes on their competitors. As one of the early movers in a staunch, union-controlled market, Uber is familiar with pushing against boundaries. It’s been known to offer perks to drivers from competitive services to get them to switch, including $50 gas cards just for stopping by its headquarters and signing bonuses for those who switch. But with Gett’s claims today, it appears as if Uber’s aggressive tactics may have gone too far. Gett launched its black car service and hailing app this fall in New York City with the goal of offering a better, more affordable alternative to services existing black car services. With a $100 million run rate and a growing international business, Gett’s arrival was hardly lost on Uber. To welcome its competitor to New York, Gett claims that, over a span of three days last week, Uber employees ordered and then cancelled more than 100 of its cars. Gett CEO Jing Herman equates Uber’s move to a malicious denial-of-service attack, as more than a dozen Uber employees worked together to request rides from its competitor. In some cases, the CEO says, they would wait until the Gett cars had nearly arrived before canceling their order. Once they requested a Gett car, the Uber employees would have access to the driver’s number. On Tuesday, one of these Uber employees then texted as many of the drivers as they could, attempting to recruit them into the fold. In copies of the text shared with TechCrunch by Gett, the Uber employee offered Gett drivers money to come over to their camp — not unlike the methods they’ve previously used on mustachioed competitor, Lyft. Uber, when contacted about the incident, confirmed that its employees had attempted to recruit Gett drivers. Through Spokesman Andrew Noyes, Uber admitted that its “local teams can be pretty determined when spreading the word about Uber and how our platform opens up new economic opportunities for drivers.” Depending on where one sits, the word “determined” is either a fair descriptor of an ambitious, if not zealous philosophy, or a hilarious understatement. Uber’s statement, of

January 14 2014


Uber Will Focus On Southeast Asia Launches Over The Next Two Months


Uber is preparing to launch in several Southeast Asian cities over the next few weeks, said its head of Asian expansion in an interview last week. The well-funded startup’s decision to focus there is a sign of the many opportunities for consumer mobile startups in Southeast Asia. Not only is are there high mobile penetration rates throughout the region, but also a growing base of affluent customers with a taste for luxury products, a bracket Uber wants to position itself in.

Uber officially launched in Kuala Lumpur last week. This week it will launch in yet another Southeast Asian city, Uber’s head of Asia operations, Allen Penn, told me. Although the location hasn’t been announced, the company recently started deploying “secret Ubers” in Manila and is seeking a general manager for the capital of the Philippines. It’s also looking for someone to fill the same position in Bangkok.

Uber isn’t sharing financial or user metrics for the region, but its strategy is being fueled by $258 million investment led by Google Ventures, which valued the company at $3.5 billion. Part of that funding is earmarked for Uber’s aggressive international expansion strategy. Last year, the company deployed in 12 Asian cities, starting with Singapore in January 2013.

Uber’s Competitive Strategy In Southeast Asia

Penn answered some questions about potential barriers in the Southeast Asian market. In the region, Uber competes with other taxi-calling apps like Easy Taxi, which is backed by Rocket Internet, as well as local startups like GrabTaxi. Like Uber, both services say their advantages include safety as well as the ability to track taxis in real-time on their apps.

In Southeast Asia, Uber wants to differentiate from other taxi and car services by focusing on its premium options, like UberBlack.

“I think that we are really focused on building a brand that is really associated with great customer service, a really high feel of quality and a really high level of reliability,” says Penn.

In several cities, Uber has met with resistance from local regulatory bodies as well as taxi drivers who view the startup as a threat to their livelihood. The most extreme demonstration of this sentiment recently occurred in Paris, when protesting taxi drivers damaged an Uber car.

But in Southeast Asia, Uber may not be competing with taxi services for locals who are already comfortable navigating their city’s transportation options.

Instead, a customer base that Uber is setting its sights on are customers who travel frequently throughout the region for business and want the convenience of relying on the same car service whether they are in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur or Manila.

“The amount of people who travel around the region is amazing,” says Penn. “That’s something new cities benefit from. We’ve had people who live in Singapore and have used the product for a year now. They go to Kuala Lumpur for a couple of months and now they have that option there as well. It helps us get off faster and faster in new markets.”

Frequent travelers are also probably the customers who will get the most out of one of Uber’s main selling points: the ease of cashless transactions.

Credit card penetration varies widely throughout Southeast Asia and is relatively low in several of the countries where Uber has launched or is planning to rollout. For example, 39% of Malaysians surveyed by Nielsen use credit cards frequently, but the Philippines has a credit card penetration rate of just 3%.

“If you look at aggregate statistics, you will see that the number looks low, but the reality is that given the market segment we are starting with, we have not seen that to be an issue at all,” says Penn. “Like Kuala Lumpur for example, it’s a very advanced market. It’s a hub for Southeast Asia.”

He adds “There’s not only the local population, but also expats, people traveling throughout Asia using hotels, who all obviously have credit cards. We have not seen that be a stumbling block so far.”

Regulatory And Liability Issues

Penn tells me that the twelve Asian cities Uber entered last year were picked in part because the company found that they were “the most straightforward [to enter] from a regulatory perspective.”

But this year, it appears that Uber is going to focus more on potential regulatory and legal issues in potential markets, as well as cities they already operate in. Uber is currently seeking a legal director for the APAC region “with expertise in corporate, litigation and employment law to join the Uber Legal Team as we continue to scale our business globally,” according to a job listing on its site.

This is especially important after the death of a six-year-old girl named Sophia Liu who was struck by an Uber-contracted driver in San Francisco earlier this month. Although Uber’s insurance does not cover drivers between rides, the tragic accident raised questions of whether it should.

Penn says that in Kuala Lumpur and other cities, Uber frequently hires private drivers who have already provided services for hotels or large corporations.

“One of the things we are looking at is making sure that they the level of commercial insurance for that market. That’s something that we are laser-focused on,” says Penn.

“That’s something that we are vetting for every partner that comes into the system. Something we take very seriously, based on the type of vehicles they are operating, is that they have the right level of licensing and registration.”

The job listing for a legal director in APAC also says that Uber wants to continue its rapid expansion strategy in the region over the next two years. Penn says one of the things that Uber looks at as it decides where to launch next are cities where people frequently download its app.

Along with several other taxi-calling app, Uber’s app is so popular in some cities where services aren’t available yet, like Nigeria, that CB Insights recently wondered if it was a bug or an attempt at App Store optimization. But Uber uses app installs, along with other factors, to find new markets.

As Uber expands into other emerging markets, it will also continue its competition with other taxi-calling apps, including the aforementioned Rocket Internet-funded EasyTaxi, which recently received $7 million to expand in the Middle East.

But recently leaked figures show that Uber appears to be in good shape so far, and with its massive funding, the company is well-positioned to continue its aggressive expansion in Southeast Asia and beyond.

[[Image: Uber]]

January 13 2014

Protesting Taxi Drivers Attack Uber Car Near Paris
8493583277_3360dc45ac_bTaxi drivers attacked an Uber car while protesting near Charles-de-Gaulle Airport earlier today — the protesters smashed a window, damaged the car hood and slashed a tire. Rude Baguette first spotted the attack on Twitter. We also confirmed with the passengers and Uber that the incident is very real. Nobody got hurt, but the attack was very violent. Eventbrite co-founder and CTO Renaud Visage, and Five by Five co-founder Kat Borlongan were the two passengers. “We are more shaken up than hurt,” Visage told me. “We are still in shock because of how violent the attack was.” This morning, hundreds of taxi drivers were protesting near Paris airports against urban transportation services, such as Uber, LeCab, Chauffeur-Privé, Drive, Snapcar and Allocab. They demand a series of laws due to unfair competition — in France, you have to pay a hefty price to get your taxi license. According to them, being a black car driver is much more lucrative than being a taxi driver, and the government should address that. “We were on a freeway with cabs parked on the left, blocking the roads. And on the right, there were a few cops,” Borlongan told me. “They made roadblocks and only targeted transportation service cars like the Uber car we were in,” Visage said. When the Uber car came close to the taxi drivers, they started throwing paint at the car and tried to open a door. “Luckily, the driver had locked the doors,” Visage said. Yet, they still smashed a window in order to grab the passengers. Protesters stopped other black cars too, but it is unclear whether the other incidents were as violent. A couple of miles later, the car had to stop because one tire was slashed in the attack. The driver changed the flat tire so he could safely drive the two passengers to Paris. Attackers tried to get in the car but our brave @uber driver maneuvered us to safety, changed the tire on the freeway and got us home.— Kat Borlongan (@KatBorlongan) January 13, 2014 This incident is significant as it shows the influence of cab drivers in France. They wanted to show everyone that they can still block two airports in an act of protest, in a very French way — but they went too far today. While customers can’t hail transportation companies in the street or at airports, cab drivers still think it’s
Tags: Europe TC Uber VTC

January 12 2014

Brilliant: Someone’s Apparently Using Tinder To Collect Uber Referral Credits
uber tinderYesterday, a somewhat sheepish TechCrunch employee forwarded the above screenshots to our team, showing what looks like an advertisement for Uber on dating app Tinder. The promotion offers first-time users $20 off if they sign up to Uber using a promo code. There's only one problem: The ad wasn't placed by Uber.
Tags: TC Uber Tinder

January 09 2014

Uber Slashes UberX Fares In 16 Markets To Make It The Cheapest Car Service Available Anywhere
uber_seo_carRiding Uber just got a lot cheaper -- at least for most customers using its low-cost UberX option. That's because Uber has committed to slashing fares for its on-demand car service in majority of U.S. cities where it's available, in some cases more than 20 percent.
Tags: TC Uber

January 08 2014

Drive Raises $2.7 Million For Its Uber-Like Service In The Crowded French Market
DriveFrench startup Drive just raised $2.7 million (€2 million) in Series A funding from undisclosed business angels and institutional investors. The service is reminiscent of Chauffeur-privé or LeCab — it’s an Uber-like service that owns its cars and operates with fixed prices. But is there enough room for yet another startup? Chauffeur-privé, LeCab, SnapCar and Uber are already fighting hard to take over the French market. As this industry is a very capital-intensive one, today’s funding round is a good indication for Drive’s future. Prices seem to be relatively similar to LeCab’s. But Drive operates Mercedes cars, that may be the main difference. Thanks to the new influx of money, the company plans to have more than a hundred cars in Paris and to open shop in multiple European cities by the end of 2014. In other words, the five month old startup remains quite small but already has expansion plans in mind. Back in November, LeCab raised $6.8 million (€5 million). At the time, the company said that it wanted to have 350 cars in Paris alone by the end of 2013. Drive won’t be as ubiquitous in Paris. Unlike Uber, you can make a Drive reservation in advance, and you get a fixed price. After saying where you want to go, Drive gives you a price that doesn’t vary with the traffic. You know how much you are going to pay upfront. As a reminder, legislation issues could slow down Drive’s growth. The French government is trying very hard to protect the taxi industry. Since January 1st, transportation services have had to wait 15 minutes before picking a customer up. Some companies stated that they won’t follow the decree, but others said that they will comply with the new rule. Chauffeur-privé CEO Yan Hascoet said that the French startups would contest the government’s decision and have a good chance of winning — the end result will probably come in a few weeks. For now, it doesn’t seem to prevent Drive from raising a new round. Drive bets on premium services, quality cars and relatively cheap prices. I still think there are too many transportation services in Paris. Drive is a serious contender, but we’ll have to wait to know who the two or three winners are. (Image credit: Bold Films)

January 06 2014

Uber Hikes New User Referral From $10 To $20 Amid Increased Competition From Lyft, Other Services
uber_seo_carRecently, Uber has bumped its new user referral fee from $10 to $20 for new users of the service through January 20th, as noticed by Homebrew’s Hunter Walk and sent out to users in an email that TechCrunch has received. The feature gives existing users a credit when they get a new user to sign up with their referral link. The new user also gets $20 in Uber credit applied to their new account. That’s about 2 free rides if they’re not too long right up front. The email reads: Cheers to the New Year! We want to make sure you start 2014 off on the right foot, so we’re doubling our referral bonus. Invite your friends to try Uber through January 20, and for each friend that rides you’ll receive $20 in free Uber credit instead of the usual $10. The increase was piloted around the 4th of July holiday last year, when it was billed as a limited 1-week promo. This period appears to be slightly longer. As with the previous promo, if your friends don’t use Uber within the promo period, your referral gets dropped back down to $10. Though leaked Uber revenue numbers late last year indicate that the business is growing like gangbusters, there are a bunch of other services nipping on its heels. Taxi services like Hailo are very popular in areas outside of the US (and gaining traction stateside, despite legal troubles). And one of Uber’s major competitors, Lyft, has recently shared growth metrics with TechCrunch that point to a healthy adoption rate as well. Uber has a bunch of balls in the air right now, with big expansion plans, a sad incident involving an Uber-using driver not on an Uber trip that resulted in the death of a young girl, an ongoing story involving physical and verbal assault by a driver, new restrictive regulations in France and European competitors like Gett receiving big rounds. Boosting the referral rate is likely just one of many things Uber is doing to combat competition, but free money is always a solid draw.
Tags: TC Uber Lyft

January 03 2014

Uber’s Denial Of Liability In Girl’s Death Raises Accident Accountability Questions
Uber-Contracted Driver Accident SceneA six-year old girl named Sophia Liu was tragically killed last night when an SUV driver confirmed to be an Uber-contracted driver struck her in a San Francisco crosswalk. Uber has essentially denied liability, noting in a statement that "this tragedy did not involve a vehicle or provider doing a trip on the Uber system". Uber's insurance does not cover drivers between rides, but the accident raises questions of whether it should.

December 28 2013

Uber, LeCab And Others Now Have To Wait 15 Minutes Before Picking You Up In France
8493583277_3360dc45ac_bAt first, it was just an idea, but this bill is now very real — urban transportation services like Uber and LeCab will now have to wait 15 minutes in France before letting a customer in the car. Back in October, the French government mentioned this piece of legislation as these new services would hurt traditional cab drivers. But nothing was set in stone until the AFP spotted the new bill today — and this news comes as a surprise. In France, you have to pay a hefty price to get your taxi license. As a payback, the taxi industry is very regulated in this country, and drivers can expect to get a healthy influx of clients. Yet, when the young and fearless startups appeared, many taxi drivers protested against LeCab, Chauffeur-privé, SnapCar, Allocab, Voitures Jaunes and Uber. While the French law calls these companies “VTC” services (car services), taxi drivers think that they are direct competitors — and smartphones certainly make Uber and others act like taxi services. That’s why the government sided with taxi drivers and talked about creating the 15-minute rule. Shortly after that, Allocab, Chauffeur-privé, LeCab and SnapCar put together an online petition against the project. Then, nothing happened. It was like the government had forgotten about this idea. In November, French heavyweight LeCab raised $6.8 million (€5 million) in Series B funding. At the time, I wrote that it was “a good time for it to raise” with the impending changes. Last week, the Competition Authority (Autorité de la concurrence) even wrote that the 15-minute delay was a bad idea. “This competitive imbalance is not necessary to protect the taxi monopoly on this market. Moreover, it potentially contradicts the objective to improve free traffic flow,” the report says. But all of this was for nothing as the new 15-minute rule will be enforced on January 1st 2014. Chauffeur-privé CEO Yan Hascoet already reacted to news agency AFP, saying that the French startups will comply with the law but will immediately contest the government’s decision — according to him, the startups have a good chance of winning. On average, it takes 7 minutes for a so-called black car to come and pick you up in France. What will happen? Will the driver wait in the car on the side of the road? Drivers could spend hours waiting in their cars every day, losing potential income. Rides

December 18 2013

Hey Uber, Lyft Is Growing Faster Than You
mustacheUber’s revenue numbers, which were leaked to Gawker just a few weeks ago, look bold at roughly $20 million per week. But there isn’t necessarily a definitive market winner yet in the peer-to-peer space, as the entire field is on a rising tide. Lyft, which started peer-to-peer ride-sharing after Uber’s black cars on demand, is seeing its revenues grow at a rate of about 6 percent every single week, according to raw data and revenue dashboards that Lyft co-founder John Zimmer shared exclusively with TechCrunch. That growth rate is more than double Uber’s growth pace, which averaged about 2.8 percent in the five weeks of data leaked to Gawker. Compounded over a year, Lyft is seeing 20X growth. “I think there will be a black car winner at the high end and a peer-to-peer winner at the affordable price point for the mass market,” Zimmer said. “Lyft is already the leader in peer-to-peer, which is the fastest growing on-demand transportation segment.” You could argue that because Lyft is growing from a smaller revenue base, its growth rate would naturally be higher. But Lyft says it is already doing one-third of the weekly ride volume Uber was doing across all of its product lines when they raised their last round at a $3.5 billion valuation (if you back out Uber’s leaked numbers to June 2013). Zimmer’s data and revenue dashboards last week revealed a more than $100 million gross run rate. Uber, for its part, says that growth rates vary drastically in different seasons, with the summers being slower than the holiday season. November, in particular, is a weaker month so they argue you can’t extrapolate growth rates back. (That said, Lyft shared revenue dashboards for the same time period.) “I’d love to tell you how much bigger we are than them, but I can’t do that,” said Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. “We’re the leader right now, but we take competition seriously. We don’t dismiss it.” We estimated Uber’s gross revenue run rate at $1 billion from the leaked Gawker dashboard. That is 10X Lyft’s size and Uber said many of the cities it serves on its own have already passed the $100 million gross revenue mark. Kalanick adds that the company has also seen 20 percent month-over-month growth in the last two months, despite growing from a larger revenue base. But they don’t just do peer-to-peer ride sharing. They have

December 14 2013

Uber Quietly Spins Up New System Helping Riders Look For Lost Items
uber_seo_carThe car service Uber has quietly rolled out a new version of Uber Lost, the system that helps riders locate items they’ve left in drivers’ cars.
Tags: TC Uber

December 12 2013

Uber Offering Lyft Drivers Free $50 In Gas, Signing Perks To Switch Teams
lyft-highway-shotUber is offering Lyft drivers several perks to entice them away from the ride sharing service. The perks include a $50 gas card just to stop by Uber HQ in San Francisco, and signing bonuses if they choose to actually take them up on the offer. We’ve been hearing reports of a signing bonus for a while now, but a flyer — discovered in a Lyft by Tradecraft founder Misha Chellam, details exactly what Uber is offering switching Lyft-ers. Chellam says someone from Uber hopped into the driver’s car for a 3-block ride and handed them the sheet. On one side is a large notice for a $50 gas voucher, which gets Lyft drivers in the door. On the other side is the details of the program which offers new signups 100% of fares through the end of 2013, with no Uber commissions taken out. There’s also a $500 bonus if drivers pick up 20 riders before January 1st, 2014: Our own Josh Constine also heard a few days ago from a Lyft driver that Uber was offering new drivers a $500 bonus for picking up a set amount of rides. Lyft Director of Growth Adam Fishman commented on Chellam’s tweet, noting that the company was aware of the promotion.  ”We’re aware and flattered by the interest in our awesome community of drivers,” read Fishman’s reply. If this strategy is effective, it could affect Lyft on a couple of levels as it reduces their supply of drivers while increasing Uber customers’ available pool of drivers. Heading into the holiday season that raises the possibility of people not being able to find a Lyft in San Francisco — and turning to Uber to find it much easier to get a car. We reached out to Fishman for more information on how Lyft is handling this strategy. We’ve reached out to Uber to confirm the campaign as well. Additional reporting by Josh Constine, article updated to reflect that Uber does not employ drivers.
Tags: TC Uber Lyft

December 04 2013

Leaked Uber Numbers, Which We've Confirmed, Point To Over $1B Gross, $213M Revenue
Today, Valleywag got its hands on leaked screenshots of Uber's dashboard, along with a series of numbers from two weeks ago that show raw revenue, signups, active clients and ride request/completion ratios.  TechCrunch has verified with a source that this is Uber's official dashboard. TechCrunch also contacted Uber, who said that they would ‘take action' against the leaker. They did not deny the authenticity of the screenshots and numbers. The numbers span a period of between mid-October and mid-November of 2013 and allow us to form a picture, though incomplete, of Uber's income and user statistics over the period. According to our calculations based on the information laid out in the dashboard screenshots - and assuming some similarity in numbers for the rest of the year - the car service should be pulling in over $1B a year in gross bookings. At a rough 20% cut, a figure Valleywag notes Kalanick has alluded to, that would place Uber's slice of the revenue around $213M a year. The five week period also showed over 11% in revenue growth, with over 398,000 new signups in aggregate at just under 80k each week. Uber is also clocking around 1M requests every week and completing around 800k each week. The data points to a healthy business which maintains a strong ratio of continuing users to new signups and big ‘conversion' rates between people who look at the app and people who actually use it. A recent filing uncovered by Kara Swisher at All Things D put Uber's valuation at $3.5B, and sources had pegged revenue for 2013 at around $125M. Going by that, Uber is doing significantly better than estimated. We contacted Uber CEO Travis Kalanick about the leak, and he did not deny that the numbers were accurate. He also had a few things to say about how the story was reported by Valleywag. “The surprising part is that Valleywag knowingly outed their own source. Valleywag actually knew the screenshot had identifying information of the individual leaker prior to them publishing this story,” Kalanick told TechCrunch in a statement. “We told Nitasha Tiku from Valleywag that we would protect her source from legal ramifications if they did not publish the document. Nitasha and Valleywag decided to publish anyways. We obviously take the dissemination of our proprietary information seriously and we will be looking to take action against the individual leaker and Valleywag source in
Tags: Startups TC Uber

November 25 2013

Uber Strikes Deal To Lower The Cost Of Car Ownership For Drivers
On-demand transportation service Uber is trying to get new drivers on the road, while also improving the experience for those who are already on its platform. To do that, it's partnered with a couple of auto manufacturers and a few financing providers to reduce the cost of new car ownership for Uber drivers in six of its fastest-growing markets.
Tags: TC Uber GM Toyota
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