What you need to know about uber by adam kidanSince it was first founded, taxi-hailing powerhouse Uber has rapidly expanded and gained popularity with users, since fares are often cheaper than with traditional taxis, completely changing the game of taxis forever.  Yet like any major disruptor, this has led to considerable backlash; not only from regular established cab drivers but also from competitors.  In some of the latest trouble, Uber drivers in South Africa have complained of intimidation and harassment by their rivals.  I recently came across an article with some information about what you need to know about the upstart company, listed below:

Uber connects customers and drivers: Since it was founded just six years ago, Uber has been, as they put it, “seamlessly connecting riders to drivers”.  Users download an app that uses GPS technology to locate available drivers.  Fares are usually lower than with traditional firms.  From its beginning in San Francisco, Uber now operates in 57 countries, with the company looking to expand into the courier and fast food delivery industries.

It makes a lot of money: Uber takes a cut of each fare.  Since it doesn’t directly employe drivers or own their vehicles, costs are kept low.  Growth has been fast, with some forecasts putting revenues this year at around $2 billion.  It’s also attracted huge amounts of funding; a recent valuation estimates the company as worth over $50 billion.  If Uber were to go public at this level, it would be the biggest start-up flotation since Facebook.

You could be an Uber driver: Uber needs a large pool of drivers to provide a reliable service, and often stresses how easy it is to join the Uber family.  You will need your own car, have to cover the costs of fuel and servicing and ultimately pass a background check.  There are some obvious perks for drivers, such as choosing your own business hours.

Traditional taxi drivers don’t like it: Uber’s growth has met considerable backlash, with demonstrations in Canada, France, Hong Kong, India, South Africa, the US and the UK, some of which have turned violent.  THe firm has had to provide security to protect its drivers in South Africa after threats.  Taxi drivers accuse Uber of unfair competition, undercutting prices by allowing unlicensed drivers to escape regulation required for the professionals.

There have been other controversies: After allegations of assaults by Uber drivers in the US, Canada and India, the company’s vetting process has been watched.  The company has also been accused of aggressive business practices, including poaching Lyft drivers.

It’s most likely here to stay: Uber’s popularity makes it hard to see it disappearing any time soon.  History has looked more kindly on disruptive technology than contemporaries.  Yet the firm isn’t without its challenges, such as local regulations, including a bans in several countries.  Uber has also been facing competition from other cab-hailing services, including Lyft and China’s Didi Kuaidi.

It’s a winning model: Regardless of Uber’s future, it’s part of a wider network of apps that use similar business models.  At its core, Uber links customers to something they want and strips away the need to even make a Google search or call somebody.  This has been adapted to other businesses, such as Airbnb or Seamless.