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Uber Sales Reach $7.5B in 2017 (bloomberg.com)
123 points by tmh79 on Feb 13, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 127 comments

I find a lot of naysayers miss the point of Uber: the experience really is better. UberX’s discount isn’t why I use it. It’s because the app is without peer. I can choose the car with the features I want. I have a company watching me and my driver to ensure that the experience is good for both of us, unlike taxis which have abysmal customer service and consumer (or driver!) protection in most cities.

I’d happily pay more for it (and usually go for select or black when I can). I tip where I can. I don’t like Uber’s bro culture and wish Lyft would get better and broader coverage. But Uber is on to something big.

UberEATS I can take or leave as others have comparable experiences (Skip the Dishes, DoorDash, etc).

> It’s because the app is without peer.

Eh. Lyft provides essentially the same feature set. Here in NYC we also have Juno and Gett. The point is not that Uber is bad, but that it's utterly replaceable. The one plus they do have is their presence in so many cities around the world, and while that is a benefit, I'm not convinced it's enough - I don't think that many people travel that often that it can keep the company competitive.

> [...] presence in so many cities around the world, and while that is a benefit, I'm not convinced it's enough

It's enough in all those markets/countries where there is no viable alternative to Uber. Here in Australia the main competitor would be GoCatch but, while it's a very good app for calling taxis, the "private car / ridesharing" service is still in its infancy.

Another field where Uber has no competitors thanks to its international presence is international travellers: when overseas, most people are obviously going to use Uber since it's a huge hassle to do your research and then sign up to local alternatives every time you travel.

>most people are obviously going to use Uber since it's a huge hassle to do your research and then sign up to local alternatives every time you travel.

Or we just use a taxi in the many cities where there is decent taxi service. I travel to London a fair bit and rarely bother with using Uber there.

That works when you speak the local language. When you do not, using a local taxi can be a much more difficult experience, and in many places you are likely to be over charged.

In Kiev, for example, very few of the taxi drivers speak English, and I don't speak Russian. Uber is both extremely easy to use there, there is no issue with the language barrier, and it is absurdly cheap (from my US perspective).

I guess. Not that I use Uber/Lyft much, but in the US I've had a number of times when the driver ends up calling me because their GPS has ended up taking them to the wrong side of the hotel or whatever. My experience hasn't really been the smartphone making all verbal communication unnecessary.

Written address or a map and a finger worked for me years before mobile phones were popular.

In many other counties an uber won't show up without calling first (and they won't call an international number). I ran into an issue where my US uber account "didn't exist" when I tried to log in on my local phone, but I couldn't create a new account because my name was already taken. Maybe they're better in other counties, but they aren't playing the international card as well as they could.

On what countries have you had this issue? Never had this problem. The same Uber account works in all countries.

Not in China... last I tried, but then they were "bought" by Didi. It doesn't matter because the driver calls to discus pickup and tips with you before taking the call anyway. If you're not fluent in Mandarin, forget it.


I tried to sign up for Ola in India to try it out, but that was impossible without an Indian cell phone number

Uber really shines for international travelers

I think there are a lot of places around the world that have Uber but don't have Lyft. Uber has competition in some areas but it seems like there's a lot of places where it doesn't have much.

Lyft is only in the US, so yes, most of the world has Uber while only one country has Lyft.

Also Toronto now.

Sure, but wide coverage doesn't come for free. Uber has to set up regional offices, advertise to local drivers, etc. etc. in each city in which it operates. It's not difficult to make the business case that you should actually just focus on a small number of huge cities instead - your chance for profit is much higher.

I cannot really comment on the difficulty of making the business case for only huge cities. But I am not convinced that marketing to non-Huge cities isn't profitable.

The Uber app is objectively better than Lyft's, and their pooling algorithm is subjectively better.

In my experience Uber has gotten worse when it comes to directions and maps. Most drivers I meet now ignore Uber and use common sense and Google maps

Objectively better how? Please be specific.

After a recent lost and found experience with Lyft, I can say that uber has thought through this process in their software.

Drivers can be paid for delivering lost items, and the process is kicked off without the need for customer service staff.

Lyft had no infrastructure fpr this, and relied on Zendesk and customer service reps to facilitate the delivery.

There was no function for paying the driver, the item was delivered days later because i had to wait for someone to answer a Zendesk ticket, and even then there was no way for the rep to set up proxy calls between me and the driver.

There are other reasons to suggest that Lyft lacks technological expertise, but this is a perfect example of a feature that is well considered by Uber and not considered at all by Lyft.

I'd love to support Lyft more, but I am forced to use a substandard product in order to do so.

Hmm, my experience with Lyft was slightly different. I went to past trips, clicked find lost item. The support reached out to the driver in 10 minutes and I had the driver at my door in a hour. Haven’t Lost an item with Uber though for comparison.

how was the drivers experience for that though? were they half way across the city? Were they around you? did you pay them?

The driver was around near by; this was in SF. I paid a generous tip via the app.

Just try using it on Android. Regardless of if you like Uber's design better (which I think it is, though design can be subjective), Lyft would often show wrong locations, not show if a driver had cancelled, not cancelling rides when you try to cancel, and much more.

The German panzers were better than any comparable tanks at the start of WWII, but they were still a bunch of Nazis.

Lyft is fine, but FAR from better. It has much less thought put into the app and almost no global coverage (I don’t live in the USA).

I keep hearing Uber is replaceable, but no one has really done it yet. This strikes me as underestimating how hard it has been to pull off what they’ve done.

> Here in NYC we also have Juno and Gett

Just Juno, now [1]. (Gett acquired Juno and retired the former's brand in New York.) My personal favorite. Prediction: Juno will pass Lyft in 2018, in New York City, to become Uber's No. 2.

[1] https://techcrunch.com/2017/04/26/on-demand-ride-service-get...

I recently took an Uber when there was a 2X surge, where I am if it's above a ~1.3 surge taxis are cheaper.

I was with another person, and we tried hailing a taxi, but none of them bothered to pick us up, so we gave up and ordered an Uber. Once we were in the uber, we were able to split the fare with no issues at all.

And the taxi drivers wonder why people prefer Uber.

I had an older coworker book 2 separate taxis from 2 separate taxi services because he really needed to be somewhere, and neither showed up... After calling both services one said they never had a record of his reservation and the other said that there just weren't any available and one would be there within an hour...

I helped him sign up for Uber, and I don't think he's ever taken a taxi again.

Uber may be a shitty company in a lot of ways, but they do what they say they do, and they do it well. Every bad experience I've had has swiftly and appropriately dealt with.

What were the circumstance that the taxis refused to pick you up? Every city that I’ve been to has laws against refusing taxi trips within the city limits.

In San Francisco, the story goes that before the ride-sharing days, if you lived in Potrero Hill or in the Richmond, Taxi Drivers would refuse to pick you up even if you called their dispatch center (they would just no-show). So the end result was that people who lived in those districts were not served equally.

Yes it's technically illegal, no there is no one enforcing that.

Uber/Lyft come along and create an incentive structure where the driver can't discriminate even if they want to, and everybody wins.

There are real benefits to what ride-sharing companies have been able to accomplish.

People don't understand how miserable getting a cab in SF was prior to Uber. It speaks to the original commenter's point that it really was, and still is, providing an exceptional service compared to what existed previously.

It wasn't just SF, in LA it was miserable unless you were staying at a hotel that had waiting taxis... and then you were screwed for the return trip. You had to call and wait 20-40 minutes and it was far from guaranteed that they'd show.

I don't think I would I have moved to LA without Uber and Lyft.

It's not just Portero Hill or Richmond. It was everywhere in SF. We lived in Castro, Noe and Twin Peaks, and taxis would never come to pick us up. Also, one time I had to wait 1.5 hrs in SOMA before a taxi would come pick me up. A dozen taxis passed me, empty, because they wanted the more expensive rides to the airport, etc.

I watch eagerly to see the complete demise of taxis in SF, I hate them with a passion.

The "No Thanks" button says otherwise. It's easy to avoid places you don't feel comfortable driving to.

Laws don't seem to matter when they're not enforced.

The taxi dispatch system is perverse, because riders will take a street hail if one shows up before the dispatched taxi. Because of that, dispatched taxi will take any street hail they pass on the way to their intended pickup. So, riders call competing dispatchers, taking the first to arrive and guaranteeing at least one driver is wasting their time and gasoline. So, many drivers disobey the dispatcher, etc. Etc.

While there are laws, have fun trying to file a complaint / anything happen. You love red tape? You’ll love trying to navigate it to report a cab that didn’t shown up on time.

I tried this a few times. I had a cab scheduled to take me to the airport. They didn’t show. I called, they said I never scheduled anything but could have a car there within an hour. That would make me miss my flight. My wife drove me and was late to work. I tried calling the city and the cab company said “we have no record.” And that was the end. Even though I had a call record showing I called the cab company the day before. Nothing happened except about an hour of me on the phone, two letters and a lot of frustration.

Another time, a cab in NY ran over my foot and broke some bones. Despite a police report, the cab company denied that it was them and never paid. They self insure (per NY rules) with a law firm. Seriously, not an insurer, a law firm. They denied claim. NY taxi commission received my complaint and did nothing.

The reality is that the laws are pretty useless as they aren’t / can’t be enforced.

I also tried reporting when thit driver was different than the license shown. Nothing happened.

I have a bunch of these stories over the decades of using taxis.

Uber is much better because they log everything and actually care about their customer. That’s why if I must trade, I’d rather take the extremely small chance of being raped or harasssed and the driver definitely being caught and convicted than a taxi.

Most likely they were full, which is why there was surge pricing.

No. Empty taxis would routinely drive past you in SF. It's common knowledge for those of us that lived in SF before Sidecar, Lyft and Uber.

Not indulging sales is profitable than indulging in sales and then making a loss.

Uber can ferry passengers around for cheap because some VC is pumping money into the company through a firehose. Take out the VC money, lets see how many Uber drivers will drive 80% below minimum wage to provide services.

Its easy to blame the regular taxi drivers. How many people here on this forum would take huge salary cuts to add profits to somebody else's wallet?

I don't understand what you're saying.

But it's easy to blame the regular taxi drivers because they are completely at fault. They could have increased the number of taxis, but they thought having a monopoly would make them richer. They could have provided better service, but they didn't want to. Now they have true competition, and their way of life is being erased because they don't want to admit that they are at fault.

I'm glad that ridesharing, be it Lyft or Uber or whoever else comes up, has destroyed the taxi industry. It's a great example of how fragile a monopoly is and how terrible service gets perpetuated by monopolies and lazy people.

>>They could have increased the number of taxis

And that will increase the supply of taxis and dilute wages. We are in a time, when even doctors control the supply of their kind so that they can have profitable careers.

>>Now they have true competition, and their way of life is being erased because they don't want to admit that they are at fault.

They have no competition. Unless Uber finds another set VCs to raise another $10 billion or so. And then VCs should be ok to not see a dollar of profit in return. Or Uber will have to raise its rates higher than regular taxis, and of course severely restrict the supply(You can't raise rates, with a oversupply of vehicles). Either option creating a system worse than taxi medallions.

Wrong. Uber dropped prices and the total number of rides increased. The taxi industry was lazy and limiting the number of drivers because they wanted to do the least amount of work for the most money. Now we have an industry that is new and helping a lot more people. There are 10x the number of Lyft and Uber drivers than taxi cabs, and it's working great. People who would never take taxis are taking Ubers now.

Higher rates based on supply and demand is vastly superior to medallions.

I will happily pay more as a rider. The most significant factor is not the price, it's the service. Taxi's do not come anywhere close to the simplicity, reliability, and comfort that Uber/ride-sharing apps deliver.

>>I will happily pay more as a rider.

In India that was never true, ever. The regular taxis existed, and Auto Rickshaws eat their lunch big time. Of course if you are ready to pay good money there will always be a service for you.

>>The most significant factor is not the price, it's the service.

And service comes with price. And price matters because for anything to scale the price has to be agreeable to a mass audience.

>>Taxi's do not come anywhere close to the simplicity, reliability, and comfort that Uber/ride-sharing apps deliver.

Sure. Very soon they have to turn in profits. We will see how much of that they can provide for a profit margin of something like 10-25 rupees per ride.

Not sure if this applies to the ancestor comment, but in New York City, the lights are on indicating when they are full, available for hailing or off duty. It is also illegal to not pick up a fare there, but drivers have refused in the past (depends on what you look like, where you are, the time of day, if you have airplane luggage, etc.)

Agreed. Here in India I used to use 'Ola' (a competitor) but ever since I tried Uber a few months ago I've preferred it. If all else were equal, I might not support a hegemonic international company with a pattern of bad judgement, but my passenger experience is just much better with Uber. There's less of a chance of running into random problems when booking a ride.

Same here. The Ola experience is full of friction. Payment options are cash or olapay. Both are inconvenient af. Uber allows normal CC or UPI payment. Ola is slightly cheaper so wait times are always higher. And sometimes the app simply gives up and says no taxi found. Uber has none of these issues. The Uber app also encourages reliance on the app for everything. You need not call the driver and he can see your live location from the app. You need not describe your destination. The driver need not devise a route. Everything is handled in a well designed manner, no surprises, and least amount of human interaction. Truly wonderful.

An Uber user for 3 years. Uber's service is way better than Ola. Days of Uber in India are short lived. Softbank will definitely push for merger with Ola like Didi in China

I feel like most yeahsayers miss the point of why people dislike Uber. It's inherently wrong to replace tens of thousands local companies all over the world, who have had to follow legislation, with one large American company with complete disregard for labor law, taxi laws etc., even if the many of the local companies are often monopolies in the cities in which they operate and even if the American company provides a better experience for customers.

Walking down the path of anarchy and replacing millions of already modestly paid jobs worldwide with even worse jobs, just because Uber provides a better app (an app!), and better service through constant reviews, is not an answer. Don't forget that Uber subsidizes their fares via the wonders of Silicon Valley venture finance. Once they have a monopoly, those prices will go up.

The taxi industry is ripe for changes, but I think few of us would like to be receive personal reviews 40 times a day, and see our already modest income and job security cut even further as we are forced to become independent contractors.

The answer might very well be ensure that the existing taxi companies can use similar apps (which is banned in many cities) and to provide easier access for new companies to compete with the existing taxi companies. In a not so distant future, self driving cars will also be a reality. But I'd rather suffer with the so-so service of the existing taxi industry than hand it all over to a few Silicon Valley billionaires.

No, I don’t think we miss the point. I just on balance happen to disagree with those stances, even though I empathize with some of them.

Ultimately, the customer is the point of business - we should not be “suffering” anything. I do agree that government should be able to slow down capitalist disruption for regulation and to preserve obsolete jobs for enough time to let the social impact get somewhat sorted out. But there have been jurisdictions where the incumbents are hopeless and cling to government regulation BECAUSE they’re hopeless (see SF’s taxis)

So, it’s important to have the ability to challenge old industries and assumptions, and force a change in how people work. I don’t buy the argument that Uber is successful because it subsidizes fares. That certainly helps, but is not sustainable. It is a better service, period. One hopes it leads the way to a sustainable business for its workers and itself, or at least enables a successor to do so.

I also LIKE that there is an institution funding a mission to provide a consistent, better ride service everywhere, and secondarily encourages change to these taxi laws which in many cases are corrupt and have been decried for decades (medallions!). It is also refreshing to be able to get the near-same experience in Austria, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Australia, US, and Canada with no extra work on my part as a customer.

This disruption has a name: Software is eating the world (cf. Andreesen). It’s a good and bad thing. I’m don’t think it can or should be stopped. I agree with the argument that we should be careful in just allowing a global bunch of valley (and Seattle) bros dictate our future. I’d love to see competition. Uber (like its founder) was overzealous in its contempt for government, to its own detriment. It’s a balancing act to build a business model that challenges bullshit laws (good) but maintains respect for local governance (also good).

I also think the new CEO is fixing the broken culture there, which had me stop using Uber for shout 6 months while Travis was clinging to life as CEO.

In my opinion the question is not about the service but whether it is a viable and sustainable business. Sure Uber is a better experience than taxis which are/were a nightmare. But most of the growth seems to be coming from underpriced rides. When the price normalisation happens Uber might not be a good service anymore.

Secondly, many of us decry regulations. But it seems to me that Uber's dream of people not owning cars and relying on Uber is not going to happen without some regulations. Case in point:


And today, a coalition of companies—including Lyft, Uber, and Zipcar—officially announced that they were signing on to a 10-point set of “shared mobility principles for livable cities”—in other words, industry goals for making city transit infrastructure as pleasant, equitable, and clean as possible. Some of the 10 statements, like “we support people over vehicles,” are vague but positive. But the final one speaks loudly about what city roads of the future could look like: “that autonomous vehicles (AVs) in dense urban areas should be operated only in shared fleets.”

> But most of the growth seems to be coming from underpriced rides. When the price normalisation happens Uber might not be a good service anymore.

This point keeps getting made, but their cut is ~25%. The driver is getting ~75%. For it to be fundamentally unsustainable, it'd have to be impossible to run the entirely administrative / virtual side of the business on 25%, which is difficult to believe.

So, you are saying as a SaaS platform Uber's ride pricing will not affect their profitability?

It might be true if Uber was simply a marketplace bringing together drivers and riders through their platform. Both could then agree on a price and Uber collecting 25% irrespective of the agreed price. Something like ebay. That is not true for Uber or any other ride platform.

Not only Uber brings two parties together it also sets the pricing terms. So today if drivers want a higher price or rider wants to a pay a lower price, neither can do that and have to abide by Uber's rule.

So, when someone says the rides are underpriced that means Uber is setting pricing terms which are lower than existing market. A $20 Uber ride might be actually worth $30. Drivers put up with a lowered cut because

a. Lot of people do this for extra cash on the side. and

b. Uber's incentive schemes - do x ride and get extra money.

So drivers are happy.

While as a customer, I pay significantly lower which make me happy.

While Uber foots the $10 difference for the sake of building an audience.

But, with price corrections things might change.

> So, you are saying as a SaaS platform Uber's ride pricing will not affect their profitability?

No. I'm saying other factors affect their profitability, and that it's very difficult to believe that a company that weren't spending dramatically in other areas couldn't be profitable by just running the SaaS platform for a 25% cut.

The rest of your post suggests a misunderstanding of how markets work. If they're getting drivers voluntarily choosing to work for them for the rates they're paying (including in competitive markets), that rate can't be too far from the market rate.

So the only way the prices could be subsidized is if the rest of the cost of the ride can't be done in the ~25% they're charging... but of course it can. That's a huge cut for administrative costs, accepting payments, and running a SaaS app.

For someone to compete with Uber, they'll have to offer better service (which will be tough) or better prices (which will be lower). There's no reason to believe some bubble is going to pop and Uber prices will increase dramatically overnight. People have been saying this for years but I don't see how it's any more than wishful thinking.

They lost 4.5 billion last year.

Does that imply it's fundamentally impossible to run the SaaS side of Uber's app (routing, payments, users, etc.) for 25% of the cost of every ride?

Or does it imply they're likely spending a lot of money on development, expansion, and breaking into new markets (like Uber Eats)?

Ubers cut is 30-45 percent range actually

>app is without peer

It's usually good though last time I tried using it the app insisted on moving the pickup point from where I'd put the marker (by the road) to the middle of the pedestrianised complex. I thought ok whatever, called the Uber and then it headed to the wrong side of the complex with no road access and I had to cancel and run for a regular cab to not miss my flight. They didn't use to do that - I guess moving the pickup to some other location is a new 'improvement'.

>>UberX’s discount isn’t why I use it.

You must be rich. Most people aren't. I see people rushing to work for their shifts in Uber all the time, because its cheap. Most of Uber's customers are in this category.

Cost is all there is. I will take a crappy service at a low price, than amazing service at a higher price. Also I'm only using the cab for a few minutes, I'm not exactly getting married to the cab, to worry that much about these things.

Cost is NOT all there is. That’s your preference, not necessarily most people’s. Cost without consideration for benefit is blind.

Premium services and products succeed across all economic backgrounds and countries because people aspire for better service. See Apple. See Las Vegas (which has been moving upscale for decades). The auto industry. People pick and choose where they save their money and spend their money based on the relative benefits they want.

Anecdotally I have found Lyft's tech to just be abysmal. Lyft line for example instructed the driver on a packed freeway we've spent what felt like a good 30 minutes slogging through just before the last exit over a bridge to go ahead and turn around and pick up another passenger just so we can go through all that traffic again. I've heard drivers mention similar problems to me too. I didn't want to use Uber, but I can't really put up with Lyft's problems.

I don't know and don't claim to say that this explains Uber's success, but it explains why I use Uber despite its notoriety.

Anecdotal, I also use Lyft, a lot, to the point where I'm probably wasting a lot of money (Mint says I spent $400+ last month). My usage upticked over the last month as I started commuting to the south bay from the city (so I would line to Caltrain).

Line just seems abysmal during peak hours, where I actually reinstalled Uber just to commute. Multiple times last month, when leaving Caltrain to go home, the Lyft would leave the awful gridlock that happens around 4th street, then a passenger would be added, and the driver would have to turn around to pick up that person at Caltrain and we would all have to sit through traffic again. One of those rides took 30 minutes for what is normally an 11 minute line ride. In the morning, Line tends to choose the strangest drivers (some that are 15 minutes away) which always leads to me guessing which train I'll be able to catch.

When I first switch to Uber (for my commutes), the most surprising thing is they recognized my street is one-way and had the driver pick me up on the adjacent street. Lyft drivers are almost always routed all the way around the block.

I will continue using Lyft when I can (their support team has been really good, and I tend to prefer Lyft drivers), but I was a bit surprised by the small differences in routing. It really challenges my thoughts on Uber/Lyft/XYZ being truly interchangeable.

Prefer Lyft drivers? Almost every Lyft driver also drives for Uber.

Stats? From my experience in Austin, Lyft drivers have mostly been "I work from my car starting a business / I drive around in my car for other reasons and I do Lyft literally on the side (as in: I was already driving this way, or similar)"

Driving for Uber may be a second/additional job for many people, but I have never had an Uber driver seem like it was a super casual thing they do for a few extra bucks.

Stats - I’m an Uber employee who can’t disclose much more than the general statement from above :)

There is almost no reason for a Lyft driver to also not do Uber for maximum earnings potential. Uber on the other hand has enough volume that drivers can operate at a max efficiency without the hassle of managing and switching statuses across multiple apps.

You're right, but I guess I'm comparing all of the different places where I've used the two, including many where I've only used Uber. For instance in London and other European cities, Uber drivers seem to almost all drive for Uber nearly full-time.

IME, Lyft drivers tend to also drive for Uber but not the other way around.

Its strange how Lyft matches drivers to riders. I think it’s based on fasted buzzer by the driver rather than proximity.

Many times, I am paired with a driver 10 minutes away even though there are multiple cars less than 2.

I use Lyft Line several times a month, and have found it to be nicer than Uber Pool. I guess YRMMV (your ridesharing mileage may vary).

And a 4.5B loss, which seems insane to me.

It's interesting that UberEats reached 4B gross revenue run-rate, which according to the article means food delivery is 10% of their business. Seems like that's pretty significant given how recent UberEats is and how many competitors they have in the space. Why is UberEats better than Grubhub, for example?

You have to put that $4.5B loss into context.

Like someone else in here pointed out - they 2x'd revenue and 1.5x'd costs - which is actually great to see. If they keep that kind of trend going with revenue growth, they'll have an incredible business on their hands.

Of course, there are hurdles along the way, but if they did that in 2017 with all that turmoil, then I think they'll do fine under Dara's leadership which seems promising so far.

Last time I tried to piece it together, they we're losing maybe a dollar or two per ride, it all adds up to large losses, but didn't seem large enough to change my purchasing decisions - unless Lyft has a cheaper price, so my read on the losses is that both Lyft and Uber are burning VC money because it's what they have to do, and rides will get more expensive once the VC money runs out, but not meaningfully more expensive to really change the market. This is just what competition looks like.

UberEats works very well. It's a simple UI and has many restaurants. The food comes quickly and you can see the location of the drive. When I've had issues, the customer support has been good.

I haven't used GrubHub myself, but my experience with DoorDash has been considerably rockier than with UberEats. They get the order wrong often or fail to show up and you can't always order from the restaurant for immediate delivery.

> UberEats works very well. It's a simple UI and has many restaurants. The food comes quickly and you can see the location of the drive. When I've had issues, the customer support has been good.

100% yes to all of these and I've ordered uber eats just shy of 100 times now. The customer support has been especially surprising as a few of orders have mixed with other people's a few times (so i got a completely different order) and I got too keep the food and got my money back.

Granted, when they first started where I live, ALL delivery fees were waived so I could order a 5 dollar meal with no delivery fee, then they changed it to $30+ orders were free delivery, and now all orders have fees based on distance + surcharge so I don't order as much as I used too.

I still use uber eats every once in a while as it is generally cheaper than other delivery services since tips are not expected and the cheapest delivery fees are currently 2.50$

Customer service is a huge thing, Uber generally sides with the customer while other comparable food delivery services in my region (Deliveroo) are just awful if you have any issues.

UberEats has simplicity and convenience over most of the other solutions. After using it every now and then for the better part of a year, I've had limited issues with delivery.

By comparison, Postmates has had issues with delivery every time I've tried it. Usually, it comes down to a lack of drivers in my area, which isn't ever the case with Uber.

UberEats in Australia managed to sign up McDonalds and several other fast food chains, which has given them a massive advantage over the others.

At least within SF, UberEats has become extremely fast in the last few months. I've had food come in as little as 15 minutes, and 20-25min seems average. Compared to other services that consistently take 45min+, this is amazing.

uber eats is more efficient and therefore cheaper than their competition. 5 dollar delivery fee through uber eats, seems to be 9 dollars through caviar or 7 dollars through grubhub. Also, IIRC uber drivers can do rides and eats, so they generally have more liquidity in their driver market.

They can count the cost of meals as revenue, even though they're giving it right to the restaurants.

They do not. Cost of meals is counted in "gross booking". Revenue or sales does not include the part paid to driver or restaurants.

I have a strong feeling that Uber will survive time, simply because of the differences in their cost-of-acquisition and user lifetime value; Uber attracted me through their ~$40 cost of acquisition by paying both me and the referrer in credits which is small when you compare and see myself spending more than that amount in a year and definitely more as I move through life. I can also see them subtly increasing prices until they finally dominate transportation and ride-sharing.

Expending huge amounts of money to grow is actually normal, Microsoft had billion dollar losses trying to market their Microsoft Surface in an Apple-saturated market and are currently now profiting from their heavy losses in the past; you can't really see the past until you're in the future.

Not really a surprise. Lyft is their only real competition in the States, I don't have any idea about the global state of things but I imagine they are likewise entrenched with their first mover's advantage.

The real question, I thought, is: are losses per sale decreasing? If not, and if we need to see a significant price increase per ride before things can get better, I sort of wonder if the only thing the taxi industry needed to do to prevent this all from happening was develop a ride-hailing app which tracked your car and gave you the price ahead of time.

> only thing the taxi industry needed to do to prevent this all from happening was develop a ride-hailing app

There's no way the taxi industry could have pulled this off. There's an incredibly complex dispatch system that keeps wait times and prices low, and hundreds of millions invested in incentives to create a new consumer behavior. The long term future hinges on the self-driving, hard to imagine the taxi industry being on the forefront of this tech.

I don't know, I use a ride hailing app from a "traditional" taxi park and it's quite good. Much more options than with Uber.

Doesn't seem to be that hard.


There's no way the taxi industry could have pulled this off. They're bound by their country's labor laws.

Taxi companies have always treated drivers terribly.

What country are you based in? I’ve only heard negative things about the taxi industry internationally, mostly around corruption. Surprised to hear there’s places where taxis have a good reputation.

...and actually showed up when you called them ...and refund your money when the driver is a schmuck, no questions asked ...and provided cleaner, more modern cars than typical taxis ...and dealt with gnarly details in GPS ...and provided smarter, better conversationalists than typical taxi drivers ...and worked in multiple cities with one app ...and support multiple payment ...and let businesses handle complex expensing ...and and and

And sold dollars for $.75.

I wonder if suddenly uber raised its prices around the world to a level it would break even, would enough people still use it?

If it can't break even on a 25% cut of every ride, someone else will be able to. It's a glorified SaaS app, and they have similarly priced competition in many markets.

This idea that the price is unsustainable is just wishful thinking by opponents.

Sure. Even if the volume dropped 50% Uber could just fire half their staff. There is no way that Uber couldn’t find some volume level to play at.

if uber fired their lawyers and compliance staff, I bet they'd be profitable lol

They probably wouldn't exist.

Taxi apps like these are prevalent in Europe and have been around for 5-7 years. MyTaxi/Hailo is owned by Daimler and is Europe's largest taxi app. Gett Taxi is a large player - Volkswagen invested $300 million in them in 2016. However, the taxi industry is regulated and can't set artificially low prices like Uber does.

Nice regulations! They set a minimum price instead of maximum. Pretty clear the regulation was supposed to protect the industry not the consumers. Such regulations are the reason uber exists.

Neither can set artificially higher surge prices

Many places don't even have an alternative.

Here in Melbourne, Australia the only alternative that seems to exist is "GoCatch": which just books a normal taxi for you. The drivers don't have a clue about it, and often end up asking for payment (when it's all handled in the app).

When visiting Vietnam, I've found no alternative to Uber that works.

*Disclaimer: I managed GoCatch operations from Nov 2013 to Mar 2014.

GoCatch has ride-sharing options since February 2016 (that's two years). While I can't state accurately to today's figures, there was akin to 350,000+ unique passengers last time I poked around.

In ASEAN/AP region, Grab is huge. It's founder is from the region (Malaysia) and arguably bigger than Uber in most countries including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and yes, Vietnam: https://www.grab.com/vn/en/

> GoCatch has ride-sharing options since February 2016 (that's two years).

I just opened the app now; I can't see the option? (what am I looking for?)

> In ASEAN/AP region, Grab is huge

Ah. I forgot about Grab. I think I saw some media about them, but can't say I know anyone that has tried them.

No worries. There's five rows to interact with in the app. Pickup time, Pickup location, Destination, Car type and Request. Car type is what you're after.

Selecting 'Economy' car type puts you in a ride share, Taxi and Maxi are taxi-related rides, Premium is hire cars or Uber.

Ride types and the monikers given have been a natural evolution in the industry. Even for most folks, when they say 'Uber' they're likely referring to 'UberX' not a hire car premium experience.

Grab's massive! Unless you're deep in the country, you might not have known but it's actually pretty big. Quote from CNBC from June 2017: "Grab facilitates as many as 2.5 million rides each day, making it the largest ride-hailing platform in Southeast Asia with over 930,000 drivers in 55 cities and seven countries. In the past six months alone, daily rides have more than doubled."

Steve Yegge famously just joined them after leaving Google/Amazon, a great blog read if you're curious about their culture, mission.

Data point: I don't know a single person using Uber in Dublin. You can hail a taxi with an app (mytaxi, used to be hailo), which actually tends to be cheaper than Uber.

Data point: I know several people who have foregone buying their own cars just because they feel uber is enough. One of those people is me.

Prices have been dropping, so I assume so?

Prices way up here in San Francisco.

Often UberPool in the $3-4 range are now about $5-6.

gotta use that pool express now, I've been getting express pools to work for 2.50 pretty consistently

It's pretty good. (Lyft also has the express concept, which I've used a few times. Most of those times the driver was under the impression it was a Lyft Line, and were wondering why there weren't any more rides showing up).

This is a really frustrating part of the experience. Why is the driver offering to deviate from the optimized, streamlined route to go into a small one-way street just so the passenger can get dropped of 15 feet closer to their destination? And now we gotta make 3 right turns to get back to our route?

Double revenue, 1.5X costs. Uber is well on track.

$4 billion food delivery business! Thats pretty neat. Uber is showing signs that they can succeed in general logistic space also besides just taxi business.

Yeah it'll be interesting to see what happens with their new Freight business. That has the potential to be a real disruptor as I don't think any other tech companies have tried to tackle that space.

"Sales were $7.5 billion. But the company also posted a substantial loss of $4.5 billion. There are few historical precedents for the scale of its loss."

Somehow the part about the record loss disappeared from the title.

All that turmoil has likely increased their mindshare. Basically they just benefited from free marketing... althought not without some consequences.

Evidently one of those consequences was not lower revenue.

Edit: replaced profit with revenue. Uber is not currently profitable.lol.

you mean revenue?

I think there profits are less negative. :)

It's pretty easy to have huge sales if what you're doing is essentially selling one dollar for 50 cents.

Yeah, but they only lost $1.1B last quarter. Things are looking brighter.

Uber Pool for 2 people across town frequently costs a bit less than the bus here, which means that they're still buying passengers, which means that "sales" is not a super honest metric. The question becomes how much will sales be hurt when they stop subsidizing. The cost doesn't have to go up by much to lose many current pool customers.

Dont underestimate how inefficient public transportation is

The moment uber stops subsidizing their rides a million competitors will come out of the woodwork with a comparable app. its not the app thats unbeatable its their vc money, you cannot have 10 multi-billion dollar unicorn taxi providing companies existing at once.

So how is that considered a success when they are still subsidizing rides and losing money. No one knows if Uber has a successful business model until they can start operating at a profit.

I could run a money losing company so long as investors keep dumping money on my doorstep.

I prefer Uber because it doesn't hassle me for tips. Tips make compensation opaque, and a large part of the beauty of uber/lyft/etc for me anyway is not to have to think about the payment (after checking that the fare is reasonable).

A small part of me probably prefers Uber also because the anti-Uber rhetoric in the press and "progressive" social media contacts is largely substance-less.

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