NOTATION: The idea was to compile a research-based overview of Uber’s history, services, and campaigns in order to develop an informed perspective on the company. I’ve compiled information that I felt was conducive to the creation of new ideas based upon the company’s existing brand and helpful to avoid repeating previously executed ideas.
HISTORY: “Uber was founded in 2009 as UberCab by Garrett Camp, the co-founder of StumbleUpon, and Travis Kalanick, who had sold his Red Swoosh startup for $19 million in 2007. Following a beta launch in May 2010, Uber’s services and mobile app officially launched in San Francisco in 2011. Originally, the application only allowed users to hail a black luxury car and the price was 1.5 times that of a taxi. In 2011, the company changed its name from UberCab to Uber after complaints from San Francisco taxi operators. During the initial development of the Uber app, the company created a think tank consisting of a nuclear physicist, a computational neuroscientist, and a machinery expert who worked on predicting demand for private hire car drivers and where demand is highest.” *
SIDE PROJECTS: Uber’s staple service is UberX, an affordable peer-to-peer ridesharing service hosted on a smart device application. There are multiple iterations of this services from UberX to UberAccess. Additionally, Uber has multiple side projects*:
- Self driving technology (“Advanced Technologies Group”, alpha testing)
- Urban air transport (“Uber Elevate”, 2023)
- Food delivery (“Uber Eats”, 2014)
- Accessible healthcare & Transportation (“Uber Health / Uber Access”, 2018)
- Corporate travel (“Uber for Business”, 2014)
PR CAMPAIGNS: Uber has launched limited-time services to boost consumer awareness and the company image. These are some of their recurring campaigns*:
- During National Ice Cream Month Uber users in certain cities can summon an ice cream truck for on-demand delivery. The ice cream purchases are billed to users’ Uber accounts.
- On National Cat Day Uber drivers deliver kittens for 15 minutes of cuddling in exchange for a donation to an animal shelter.
- In some cities Uber offers delivery of Christmas trees during December.
COLLABORATIONS: Uber has offered limited-time services in collaboration with other companies as advertising campaigns. Some of the most noteworthy limited-time events*:
- NFL: September 4, 2013 – Uber announced a promotion with the NFL Players Association to promote safe rides for NFL players.
- DeLorean “time machine”: September 2013 – Uber offered rides in the DeLorean DMC-12 car which was featured in the Back to the Future film franchise.
- UberCHOPPER: July 2014 – Uber partnered with Blade to offer helicopter rides from New York City to The Hamptons for $3,000 each, including during Independence Day.
- Dream Drive: March 2015 – In collaboration with Dream Drive, Uber offered a luxury car-rental service in Singapore that included Lamborghinis and Maseratis.
- GrabOn: November 2015 – In collaboration with GrabOn, Uber offered hot air balloon rides to customers in Hyderabad, India for INR 1,000.
- UberCOPTER: 2016 – The company partnered with Airbus for a one-month trial of a $63 Uber helicopter service, in São Paulo, a city famous for its extreme traffic congestion.Uber, in partnership with Blade, has also provided helicopter service for specific events, including the Cannes Film Festival and Sundance Film Festival with flights from Salt Lake City International Airport to Park City, Utah.
- Bobbi Brown Cosmetics: September 2016 – Uber and Bobbi Brown Cosmetics made a partnership for Bobbi Brown x Uber Retouch campaign, to celebrate the launch of the Retouching Wands and Retouching Pencils. Customers got an opportunity to take a ride with a Bobbi Brown Makeup Artist and quick make up course how to retouch make up on-the-go.
CONCLUSION: While Uber is best known for it’s baseline ridesharing service UberX, the company has been exploring, testing, and launching next-gen transportation services ever since they firmly established their company in the transportation industry. Uber is a multi-national company with stakes in over 40 countries worldwide. They are willing to think outside of the box and push the boundaries on many fronts. Each beta test is the start of a small battle in the great war being wagered to continuously push the transportation industry into the future, now. Their pursuit of greatness has earned them the title of “thugs”, incited riots, and caused the first pedestrian death by autonomous vehicle on American soil. Despite this, Uber has completed over 5 billion trips as of 2018. Uber is a high risk = high reward company.