Happy 10th birthday Uber! Here's ten things we didn't know about you

April 05, 2019

Happy 10th birthday Uber!  Here's ten things we didn't know about you

Uber makes zero profit but is valued at $120 billion 

Founded in March 2009, last year it suffered a staggering net loss of $1.8bn, yet it's going for its IPO next month and could be valued at as much as $120 billion. Me neither. But the last time unprofitable companies went public at this rate was in 2000. Dot. Com. Bubble. Burst. Just saying.  

Despite being deep in the red, this week it's about to spend $3.1 billion buying a Dubai-based rival 

Careem, set up in March 2012, is an Uber copycat based in Dubai with operations in over 100 cities in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. It's a product of the Dubai Internet City cleverly established in 1999, which also spawned Amazon copycat e-commerce platform Souq.com, which Amazon then acquired two years ago. It appears imitation is now the most lucrative form of flattery.  
 
The man who came up with the Uber concept is a mystery Canadian 

Gareth Camp, 40, is Canada's third richest man, worth $5.3 billion. One New Year's Eve after he and his friends spent $800 hiring a private driver, Camp realised sharing the cost with others could make it affordable. Uber was born. Maverick businessman Travis Kalanick then came on board and gives him "full credit for the idea". Almost nothing is known of Camp's private life, other than he's joinedThe Giving Pledge, which commits giving away half of his wealth to charity. If only his company showed such morality.  

On Uber's Wikipedia page, the 'Criticism' entry runs to 19 subsections

A decade in business and Uber has amassed a brutish reputation. There was the aggressive strategy for dealing with regulators, the evasion of law enforcement operations, user privacy and data breaches, the 5,560 fake Lyft rides it booked to undercut its rival, sexual harassment allegations and of course the shenanigans of its deposed co-founder Travis Kalanick. His town house in San Fran is called the Jam Pad, "The church of creative capitalism", and has its own Twitter feed. Srsly.    

Uber has its own vomit inspectors 

Once a passenger revisits his or her supper all over the back seat of a Febreze-smelling Uber, drivers can be reimbursed for “damage” if they photograph the crime scene. A tier system determines how much money to issue for the 'Uber cleaning fee' (up to $250). Apparently it's not unknown for drivers to use “false vomit” to get extra money, so inspectors have to be especially beady-eyed. Jeez.  


Between 11pm - 1am on Saturdays and Sundays is prime time for leaving stuff in Ubers 

According to its 2019 Lost & Found Index released by Uber last week, we mostly leave our phones, cameras, wallets and bags. But the more interesting forgotten items include an eight week-old coffee-coloured Chihuahua, a propane tank, a fully stocked fish tank with fish and water, one Gucci flip flop and the head of a salmon. Eww.
 
Uber hijacked a company with the same name and made its life hell 

The design firm Uber Inc, established in NY in 1999 by two Austrian sisters, become a target for furious Uber clients and drivers when Uber the cab company took off. The design company had a customer phone line, Uber didn't. Even today, the menu on Uber Inc's website reads: "Design Portfolio, Awards, About, Contact, Uber v Uber." When the big boys at Uber suggested owner Herta Kriegner change her company's name, she demurred and instead managed to dig out a number for Uber which she prominently puts on her website. Go girl.

Uber takes 25% of every ride (and many of its three million drivers make less than the minimum wage) 

While London drivers take home £11 an hour, £4 less than the company's estimates before driver costs, but 80p more than the London Living Wage, their LA colleagues recently had their rates slashed from 80 cents per mile to 60 cents. Over the past several years, Uber drivers have endured multiple rounds of pay cuts. There's also no staff discount. 

Uber drivers aren’t immediately notified of your destination when they accept a job 

Which is why they often cancel your ride when they eventually find out. (When a job comes through, drivers must either agree or decline the request, not knowing how near or far they are going. Annoying for everyone.) 
  
 
Uber dodges paying UK tax 
It processes jobs through its Dutch subsidiary, Uber BV, where VAT is 0% for entrepreneurs conducting 'foreign businesses' from the Netherlands. In the UK, VAT is 20%. Uber calls its tax affairs "open to interpretation".  We call it sneaky. At best. 



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