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Announcing UberPool (uber.com)
430 points by jefftchan on Aug 5, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 155 comments



I'm a little surprised at the choice of "Pool" instead of more conventional terms in the sharing economy such as "UberShare" or "UberContribute." I was very disappointed that UberPool isn't a swimming-pool-as-a-service.


It's a play on the word Carpool and seems apt to me. The Uber brand name is already synonymous with sharing as you share the car with the driver and whoever is with you and they need to distinguish this separately. I also thought it was something to do with bringing you to a swimming pool like UberCats.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carpool


he was joking


I was actually hoping it was a summer promotion for Uber, mobile-pool-as-a-service.

http://img3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20111219033328/simpsons/i...


You joke, but I was sure this was going to be some kind of promotion involving swimming pools, like with their cupcakes, kittens, and weddings.


My immediate thought was that they'd show up with a pool table on a truck. I think that would fit in perfectly with their other promotions.


FWIW, I immediately guessed what it was going to be, just from reading the name. I would not have had the same reaction (I don't think) to your suggestions.

So I like it. I think the mentions about it triggering an association to car-pool are spot on.


I agree. My immediate thought was something more akin to 'motor pool'. Maybe a way to pre-buy a group of rides at the same time or to the same place, such as getting friends to/from a party, for a discount.

Or perhaps it could have been a service where Uber had their own fleet of 'special' drivers for 'premium' members to help with peak demand times. Of course, this sounds quite a bit like a traditional contracted car service.

UberShare seems more fitting to me. Having read what it is the name makes sense, but it didn't inform me going in.


OMG swimming-pool-as-a-service. You are a genius.

I am going to be so rich. Thank you!


I also thought this was another Summer gimmick like the ice cream.


"Uber" is already a pretty non-descriptive brand name, I think they prefer catchy-ness to descriptive branding.


Here in Queenstown, NZ there's spa (jacuzzi) as a service.


Sounds very similar to Hitch[0] which launched a couple of months ago in SF. It sounds very useful for long, expensive trips (e.g., cross bay, down to south bay) where the fixed cost of picking up or dropping off another passenger is a smaller factor.

On an unrelated note, how is the form at the bottom supposed to update you when UberPool is in your area? Area codes are going to be inaccurate for anybody who's moved since they got their cell phone number.

[0] http://www.takehitch.com/


This is one of those examples where the raw idea is not the main part.

Uber have a lot of advantages. They have a userbase of passengers and drivers that can be brought over to new services. They have the media's attention, including mainstream media. They have the cash to run at a loss while building up. They have presence in a lot of cities. They also have the competence to do this well.

Imagine that you build a "person search." You enter a name. It brings up a page with pictures, facts and other information collected around the web. It's nifty. That's interesting. But, if Google put a little "people" link between images and news in their search page and person search will have hundreds of thousands of users this week.

The news here is "uber launch carpooling service," not "carpooling service now exists." Rightly so, IMO. If this works well, there could be tens of thousands of user in a couple of months.


I agree - I could help but think while reading this that I've seen a couple services like this already.

But you're right, the key to this is the implementation of the idea over the idea itself. Uber (probably) will generate a larger network of car poolers, which is necessary for this type of service to work.


I've used Hitch regularly over the past few months, and it works well for short trips. Half the time I don't carpool (and I still pay half price), and the other half of the time adds just a couple extra minutes (haven't gone more than 5 minutes out of my way). My one issue with Hitch so far is that occasionally it takes a while to get me a ride. Uber has a leg up here, as it has a huge scale advantage. When I open my app, I can see 5 ubers in a 3 block radius - which is pretty astounding reach.


My guess is that they'll first just correlate it numbers from their database...


Long distance is harder. It'd work for popular commuter patterns, but you'd want a more structured service for that.

For a general near-real-time hailing system, limiting it to a smaller area means that even if your best match would add a relatively high distance penalty (say 50%), in absolute terms that's still tolerable (a few extra minutes). So that increases the probability of finding a match right now where the economics work out.


Also seeing as Uber is such an international country (159 cities in 43 countries), I was disappointed at the complete lack of i18n in the article.


It's their blog. They're a US-based company primarily (although not exclusively) focused on US consumers. You can expect that to result in English blog posts, just as you might expect a French company dealing with some France-only consumers to post in French.


Sorry, my bad. When I said i18n, I didn't mean I expected them to post in other languages, but I expected them to mention geographical availabilities and what not.


Ah, gotcha. Didn't they say the plan to expand on August 15th? I'd assume they'd be announcing the availability outside of the SF private beta then.


The thing is, I never use Uber when I'm in my area, because that's where my car is. I use Uber when I'm travelling.


I can't imagine Hitch still competing in this market in a month's time.


Not to sound pedantic, but I think you mean marginal cost.


I'm a periodic Uber user and tend to use it later when public transit isn't running. This would be interesting, and if cheap enough, could be more convenient than waiting for a bus if you're in an area where they don't run frequently and it's storming, extremely hot, you don't want to wait around.

I also just tried out Car2Go which costed me ~$15. The same trip from Uber, albiet at a different time of day, costs $9-12, and I get a driver. If Uber's pricing is even lower due to car sharing, then services like ZipCar and Car2Go may be in a little trouble.

Of course, I realize if you're going to pick something up from a hardware store or whatever you may not want to use Uber, but for many types of trips using a service like Uber or Lyft is better and more convenient than driving yourself


This got me thinking: why are short-term rental services so expensive? Surely the driver makes up a large chunk of the cost of a service like Uber, so renting the car alone should be much cheaper.

My guess is that rental services need a considerable oversupply of vehicles to make up for the uneven nature of demand. If I'm going to use such a service, I need to be reasonably certain that I can get a car within walking distance, and that means they need enough cars within a fairly small area to handle the 95th percentile of demand (or whatever percentile is appropriate).

With something like Uber, the supply is effectively shared within the metro area, so sudden demand in one small area doesn't hurt. If the nearest Uber car is a five-minute drive away, that's fine. If the nearest ZipCar vehicle is a five-minute drive away, you are probably not using ZipCar today.

I think this brings us back to the continuing discussion of self-driving cars....


I find that to be completely true-- the area around my office is completely void of Car2Go cars from around 4 PM later. I had to walk ~1/5 of a mile to get to the nearest one. Of course, I'm sure at 1 AM that you'd be able to find a parked car pretty close to you, provided you're not by a bunch of offices which have had the cars driven away to residential areas by people at their jobs.


I had to walk ~1/5 of a mile to get to the nearest one.

Which is what, a 4 minute walk? That seems pretty minimal to me.


I'm honestly wondering if that's a typo.

In what way is ~1250 feet considered a far distance to go for a rental car? Even in a populous metro area that seems about as short a walk as I would expect, are they generally closer?


It's not a typo, but it is 90 degrees today, and I'm sure many people would prefer to be able to be either picked up or go around a corner to find a car.


Put another way, that is two city blocks, which is a very reasonable distance to walk after finding parking in any major city.


ZipCar is $7-10 per hour on the low end of prices. Compared to Uber, that's extremely cheap.


That is if you're planning on being the car for an hour, and depending on the service, whether you're starting and ending near a parking spot. As in my example, if you're going to a hardware store and need a full sized car, ZipCar would be much better than Uber or even Car2Go because it's so cheap per hour.


ZipCar requires you to drop the car where you picked it up, right? So that $7-10/hour includes the time you spend on whatever non-driving activity you get up to at the destination.


Yes, as of 2012 when I could have used such a service. $10 / hour is a fine price for short-term car rental... but since I wanted to use the car to go places, as opposed to just driving around in the parking lot, it worked out to more like $50-100 per hour (of driving).

Bicycle rentals don't work like that -- you get on a bike at one stand and leave it at the stand closest to where you want to end up. I don't know why the car model is so badly broken.


Take a look at Car2Go, which has nominal rates a little higher than Zipcar, but pricing that scales down to minutes and is based around a "leave the car wherever" model.


Bicycles cost ~50x less but can be rented at similar rates. Also it's relatively easy for a bike-sharing company to redistribute bicycles on a truck if the supply bunches up somewhere.

An hour of Divvy is surprisingly close in cost to an hour of ZipCar, which is astonishing considering how much more it must cost to operate ZipCar.


Bikesharing is designed to encourage short trips within its service zone— even if you want a longer trip, you can just dock/undock a bike to avoid a fee (aka docksurfing). The escalating hourly fee is designed to keep the bikes in circulation, not as a charge you pay during ordinary usage— I've been a member of Citibike in NYC for over a year, and have never paid a fee beyond the membership.

With Zipcar, you first pay a membership nearly as expensive as bikesharing, then pay at least $10/hr.


In Seattle, a car2go trip that costs $15 would be 36 minutes long. Car2Go has no mileage fee for trips under 150 miles.

The same UberX trip would be $13 before taking mileage into account. If it took you 36 minutes, I assume you went at least 3 miles. So that makes the trip cost at least 17 bucks.

I've found that Car2Go is quite a bit cheaper than using either Lyft or UberX. I usually use them together though. I'll take a Car2Go to the bar, then take a rideshare home after drinking too much to drive.


Car2go also has a $14.99 / hour maximum, so you could potentially drive it a lot more and for multiple stops. No way you could hire an UberX to drive you around the city for an hour for that price.


Doesn't Car2Go require you to bring the car back to it's starting point?

Are there multiple locations you can drop the car at, and if not, how do you handle that when taking it to the bar?


You're thinking of Zipcar.

With Car2Go, you leave the car in any legal on-street parking space (sometimes limited to 15 min+/1 hr+/2 hr+ depending on city) in the "home area" (borders depend on the city but are typically pretty expansive). The company contracts with each city to basically pay a flat rate for street and metered parking for all the cars yearly.


No, you can leave it nearly anywhere in the service area. The particular rules are up to the city you're in; in Seattle they amount to "you can park anywhere, provided it allows a normal car to park for at least two hours, and doesn't become illegal to park during certain times (e.g. bus lanes)".


I gather from their website the car may be returned to "any non-restricted curb side parking throughout the car2go Home Area"

How extensive the home area is depends heavily on the city. In Los Angeles, it looks like a tiny sliver of the city [1] whereas in Berlin the coverage looks a lot better [2] (although it's possible I'm being confused by different map zoom levels)

[1] https://www.car2go.com/en/losangeles/ [2] https://www.car2go.com/en/berlin/


Car2go can be parked at any street legal parking spot with 2+ hr limits. There are no restrictions really.


Are Uber users this price conscious though? I think their core user base skews to a higher net worth, and aren't going to be the kinds of people that want to share a car with another person. The only thing they'll know about the person they are sharing with going in is that they are too cheap to take their own Uber ride.

This just doesn't sound like it will work with their core user base. Maybe they are trying to expand their user base to the public transportation crowd, but that may devalue the brand.


With the pivot of UberX yes. Previously Uber had a luxury brand position, all of their products (UberX, Black Car, SUV) were priced higher than a taxi, and the bulk of their revenue was coming from black car services. I remember the old advertising and they never had the concept of a "sale" or messaging about their pricing relative to the competition.

However the rise of Lyft and other competitors essentially pushed Uber to go into a price gauging war. They went into a big price cut with UberX that essentially made them cheaper than both Lyft & taxis, and had a lot of advertising campaigns talking about their price advantage. This happened late last year (I believe) and since then both Lyft & Uber have been going through a series of price cuts & driver promotions to compete on both side of the table.

So yes, Uber users are definitely price conscious. This has happened largely because Uber has shifted its model more towards UberX. Slashing fares was a pretty bold move (companies rarely cannibalize cash cows with high margins).

The new focus, I think is to consolidate their position by growing aggressively, competing with Lyft on pricing & driver promotions, and ultimately, drive the cost of service so low that they expand the market past on-demand limos (Uber before X), cabs (Uber now), to a service cheaper than owning a car (Uber in the future).


Users of Uber proper might be high net worth, but UberX is popular with (among others) college students, because it's a bit cheaper than taking a cab and you don't need to carry cash.


Agreed. I used to drive for Lyft when UberX started up. They did get a good pull of the college and young 20's market with their service in SF.

I just think of brand differentiation with these companies now, not really the price point.


I am starting a new job soon about 3 miles from my apartment, which is a little too far to walk. (I can walk that far, but I don't really want an hour-each-way commute.)

One thing I've been considering is using Uber / Lyft, but it's a lot of money over the course of a year. At 40% cheaper it looks a lot more attractive, though. And sharing a car with another rider isn't any worse than sharing it with the driver! :)


Is there a reason you don't want to just bike? Seems like the perfect distance for it, and it's free after the initial investment of a couple hundred dollars.


What's the saying? A car runs on money and makes you fat, a bike runs on fat and saves you money.

Depending on that 3 mile commute (hills, traffic, bike routes), it may also be faster.


simply not a practical option for everyone. I only do it because I can bikeshare one way home. After biking a few miles in DC in the summer I need a shower and complete change of clothes.

Also, before they put the bike lanes in biking during rush hour felt stressful and dangerous.


I hear you; a lot of people feel the same way (I'm lucky enough to be able to shower at each end; if I don't bike commute it's usually more laziness).

That said, a lot of people seem to sweat less on bikes with an electric assist; people worried about sweat might look into those as an alternative.


I very much do want to bike, but my family (and some of my bike-commuting friends) seem to think I'll get hit by a truck and are very against the idea. :P


Depending where you live, there may be resources to help you get started. 3 miles is a perfect biking distance. Bike-commuting friends don't want you biking? Is there something particularly bad about your surrounding environment?


(...) the initial investment of a couple hundred dollars

And learning to ride it :)


The driver has an incentive to be nice. Your fellow rider doesn't.


You really don't think Uber will be asking riders to rate their fellow passenger right after the ride? And then start displaying it to potential riders to help them decide if they want to take the share?


I typically bike to work, but I'll take an Uber every once in a while for about $7-$9. Sometimes I use MUNI, which is $2. If Uber can drop the price range to $3-$5, I'd consider using them almost every day -- the difference in price between taking the train and carpooling at that point seems negligible. I think there are a lot of people in a similar position.


They don't want to be a brand for the wealthy. They want to be known and perceived as a utility for everyone. So if anything, this helps fix the brand issues they have.

I spend north of $300 per month on uber, and I'm selling my car because I never touch it anymore. That changed recently as prices kept dropping.


My guess is that there are large numbers of people who would use Uber to get to/from drinking establishments regularly but don't because it's just a tad too expensive to catch two rides a night, several times a week. If Uber could cut the price down somewhat, they could open up a potentially huge market.


different markets are different; that may be the case in SF; the core user base in SD skews to "Doesn't want a DUI", and we get a LOT of students during the school year, for example, although their ability to manage money may be suspect.


I became an uber user because it became cost comparable to taxi's. The uber experience is significantly better than NYC cabs and now that it will be cheaper it really is no contest anymore.


> The only thing they'll know about the person they are sharing with going in is that they are too cheap to take their own Uber ride.

Oh the horror.

I don't know if higher net-worth necessarily means that there aren't a good amount of those that are mindful of their spending (or cheap).


In the Millionaire next Door (or maybe it was the Millionaire Mind), it was pointed out that a common way of becoming a high net worth individual isn't to make an obscenely huge amount of money; but rather to be careful about how you spend the money that you do make. A lot of high net worth individuals own their own business, and make a good income, but are also frugal enough that they are able to build up wealth rather than make the money and immediately spend it.


>>Even if we don’t find an UberPool match for you, we’ll give you a discount on your ride.

That's huge.

A huge problem Hitch faces is having enough demand-side riders on the market to make the marketplace viable [1]

Uber is going to be subsidizing the demand-side of the marketplace until the marketplace matures and demand fills in.

[1] http://www.crewlab.net/uberpool


And they've just collected 1.2 billion to help them along with that.


On the other hand it means Uber has to make that money somewhere, probably the other Uber services which mean they rely on taking a big cut out of the fees making them less competitive.


There is a car sharing service in France called Blah Blah. Passengers have rated "Blah" so you don't have to share ride with people who speak less or more than you usually.

http://www.blablacar.com/


Car sharing services in France are incredibly popular, everyone uses them. This is partly because the government has a monopoly and keeps the trains expensive, and stops buses from running. In the UK, buses are the way to go, you get very cheap buses if you book in advance.


Buses in the US are cheap, but our government monopoly rail service is even more expensive and even slower— NYC to DC is shorter than Paris to Lyon, but costs for a ticket a week out are higher for the low-speed Northeast Regional than the TGV, and our low-speed high-speed train, the Acela, costs more than twice as much as the TGV.


How do private corporations build rail infrastructure without government? Wouldn't you need to negotiate with tens of thousands of private property owners, such that one holdout would be enough to kill the project?

How is this possible without eminent domain?


UK buses may be cheap for long-distance travel, but outside of London they're pretty expensive for short distances, often more expensive than sharing a taxi with even one other person.


They raised $100M few weeks ago to expand

http://techcrunch.com/2014/07/01/blablacar-raises-a-massive-...


It would be interesting if Uber quantified carbon requirements per passenger mile and used this rating to encourage users to share rides. Uber users could get benefits or discounts for being green.


Yes, I came here to post this. Uber could accrue some nice PR by reporting aggregate statistics in terms of Co2 saved, dollars saved, etc. They could also report those stats on an individual level.

Still, these calculations could be pretty difficult. There are a lot of unknown variables. What was each customer's alternative mode of transport? Did the customer actually have a car before? Etc.

Re: your incentive point, I'm not sure how that would work with emissions since it would basically just be "who drives the most," but I could see Uber promoting some incentive programs to get people to sell their car. They could even buy cars from people, in exchange for cash and/or uber credits, then repurpose those cars as uber vehicles.


We're building a similar service at Teleport, and recently ran a few numbers on the benefits of this sort of trip sharing assuming large scale and self driving EV's. Really can change the entire transport experience in cities - cleaner, faster, safer, cheaper. http://teleprt.com/50-cities/


I've been waiting for something like this to arrive for a while. In Israel and the West Bank, services called sheiruts act as mini-buses; they're taxis that pick up multiple passengers going in the same direction, usually for the same price as a public bus ticket. When buses are scarce, they are a really useful service. Could UberPool be like this?


Sounds similar to songthaews in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Aside from bikes, they seem to be the primary way of getting around and you just hail them like a taxi, talk to the driver to confirm that they're headed in somewhat the right direction, and it all works a bit like a dynamically selected bus route.


This was common in Fiji. You stand on the road and flag down the van, make sure its going to the right place and pile in. Its like private bus.


In Brazil, mainly in Rio de Janeiro, we have the kombis (usually, but not necessarily VW Kombis) that are basically the same. São Paulo, used to have them, but they were taken off the road. Personally, I find them to be much more convenient than busses half the time, especially since the city really only responds to increases to demand around election time.

i.e. a route becomes increasingly crowded to the point you can't get on the bus anymore. The problem gets so bad over a few years that you have to let 3-4 busses pass. An election comes up and miraculously the increased demand is met. kombis help alleviate these shenanigans.


A lot of people have tried this idea before, but they've never had the infrastructure or users to pull it off. Uber definitely has the infrastructure, but I suppose time will tell whether enough users sign up for it.

Imagined future scenario, though: UberPool Buses. At the right peak times it could work, but I wouldn't like to use it in New York.


Where can I bet that Google will buy Uber and make self-driving Uber cars? (I am not joking, do people know where I can place a bet on this?)


Google ventures invested $258M in Uber about a year ago, I'd say it's highly likely that if self-driving cars pan out, there'll be an Uber fleet of them.


Oh, there's not a chance. Google's already invested quite a bit in Uber. Their exit is an IPO, not another investment. Private investment for startups is like a game of hot potato. Investors want to toss the potato to whomever will pay more. The public market is the last person to throw it to, and the valuation of Uber necessitates it.


They already have! http://techcrunch.com/2013/08/25/uberauto/

*Note the date


Predict the acquisition on mergerize.com: http://mergerize.com. Just include the target price and date.


What happens if you are requesting a ride and have a friend or two with you? UI could get a little complicated. And will they charge extra now if there is more than one rider?


If you are all starting and ending at the same location it is cheaper to do a single fare.


Seems like you can split the fare with everyone that's riding.

https://support.uber.com/hc/en-us/articles/201836586-Can-I-s...


> there is a $0.25 fare split fee for each participant.

We just use Venmo :)


Almost in every single other country this has always been the way to ride a taxi.

"This is also a bold social experiment." come on!

They're making it sound like they discovered nuclear fusion.


How do people organize cab shares in other countries?


"are you going in the same direction? would you like to split cab fare?" is usually how it goes, depending on the local dialect.


In some small towns in Argentina, taxis pretty much replace buses. You can hail a taxi in the street, and even if there are already people in, they'll ask you where you're going. If you are going the same direction as everyone else in the taxi, you can get in. It's actually very convenient and cheap.


Songthaew


Well, it's new for a country where people are quite uncomfortable being close to strangers.


Based one what time you typically leave the house and where you go everyday, I'm certain there's also room to mature this market by suggesting carpooling groups to anyone who has tried to use the service at least once:

For all users who try UberPool at least once, find clusters where they all leave regularly at approximately the same time and head to the same destination.

Uber can even ask something like "Do you mind if we collect your commuting data for 1 week. If there is low variability, find clusters and suggest routes.

It think this could work bananas in places like SF-SouthBay, SouthBay-SF, and Washington DC where a sizeable chunk of people move back and forth in the same direction each day.


Now if this worked for my commute, that would be amazing. Would take it in an instant when the trains were far apart.


Along the lines of reducing fossil fuel consumption and having just returned from a trip to Copenhagen and Amsterdam, I really wish the bicycling culture was better embraced in the States in the bigger cities. NYC has Citibike which I find fantastic! But DC doesn't have the density of bike stations to make it convenient. How are the other cities? Miami, Chicago, San Fran, etc?


Chicago's bike share is very well built out (IMO) and if you're in a neighborhood serviced by it (many low income neighborhoods just aren't deployed at all) you should be no more than two blocks from a station: http://www.divvybikes.com/stations


Boston has a very strong biking culture, partly due to the large number of university students there.


Well, putting aside the endless war between cars and bikes... Several of my friends who bike regularly (hasn't happened to me, thankfully) have been hit by cars while biking, even though they were following the law and had all manner of blinky lights on their person.

I think that while the biking culture in Boston is great, it won't be a good replacement for cars until there are more bike lanes and more careful drivers.


Copenhagen has curbed lanes dedicated to bikes and the people take full advantage. I saw several Christiana Bikes on the road while there (In fact one lady used one to drag back a loveseat sofa!)

http://christianiabikes.com/en/


"Our friends at Google will also be joining us in the beta. They share our vision of a more energy-efficient world with less traffic congestion and pollution in our cities and are excited to be early adopters of UberPool."

I don't quite understand what that means. Are they saying that all Google employees have access to the beta, or is Google involved in some other way?


Random guess:

they may be modifying one of the routing algorithms with google maps. How far of a deviation can you make from a given route to pickup another group without increasing the ride time by X percentage type questions?


I'm assuming that google is having its employees participate in the beta so they can share rides to the HQ


Yes. It's a good idea since they also invested so much into Uber already.


And also make it harder to distinguish a Google Bus from any other car.


This reminds me of Via[0]:

"Shared rides in a premium SUV or Mercedes van. As fast as a taxi at a fraction of the price."

All of the competition in ride sharing has been great in the Bay Area. UberX is sometimes in a price range closer to riding the bus or BART.

[0] http://www.ridewithvia.com/


People have talked about Uber as a way to reduce pollution and wasteful driving, and the limits of Uber's ability to do so since it still needs to address peak usage.

If they make this work, the Uber could turn out to be a huge environmental boon, reducing both the number of cards manufactured as well as fuel and road usage.

Hope it works...


I like the general idea but don't completely get it

> just happens to be requesting a ride along a similar route > Uber from the Castro to the Financial District

Isn't 90% of the time it's like, one person goes to the Financial District, and the other one will just drop off Mid-Market, or just a few blocks towards SOMA, thank you?

So do you get stuck waiting until there is a person with just the same exact route, or how is this partially-overlapping ride determined and split? You detour a few blocks to the right to accommodate the "nearby SOMA" person? But what if the original person says, screw SOMA, I'm not paying or waiting for any detours, I need to get to FD on a straight line asap.

Sounds pretty hard, matching millions of similar but different routes.


I know if the price was cheap enough I'd definitely be willing to put up with slightly longer pickup delays

(considering that it'd probably still be faster than normal taxis around here)


I think you can look at it as (convenience + quality)/price.

Different people evaluate & value those three differently. To get a customer that equation needs to yield a higher value than the next best thing. To win in a a market completely, you need to tick all three boxes. Better, cheaper, faster.

Uber focused on high quality early on, the limo market. They beat limos for price and convenience (the competition sucked) and matched the quality. More expensive than taxis, but better quality (nicer car). As the network grew, "convenience" went up, fast pickup times. They expanded downmarket (lower price & quality) with uberXand to take on Taxis.

I think this ridesharing/carpooling, if it works well might find an unserved niche somewhere between Taxis and public transport.

A next step might be something close to public transport. Basically minibuses running something similar to shuttles between hotels and airports. Most cities have these. They are possible because hotels can coordinate. That's why they are more common between the hotel and the airport than the other way around. There are probably lots of other use cases that are just missing the coordination.


> A next step might be something close to public transport. Basically minibuses running something similar to shuttles between hotels and airports.

There's also a huge and mostly hidden network of "dollar vans" in cities with large immigrant populations, private operators serving areas not touched by public transport routes. Not saying that Uber will expand this far downmarket, but interesting to note that what you describe exists in some form already.

http://mashable.com/2014/04/10/dollar-vans-new-york/


This is interesting. It's potentially a bridge into "mass" transit.

Sam Altman's insight about his own (high end) car use and the potential cost of replacing it completely with Uber is one legitimate example of how they could expand beyond of the taxi market. I don't think it's impossible for uber to have a few hundred or thousand core users in major cities that spend $10,000 per year on Uber. That only really applies to a small group of wealthy individuals.

But, the real big markets are usually nearer the bottom of the pyramid.


Cab With Me[1] is doing this in NYC right now (head of biz dev here). MIT came out with a study[2] that showed ~80% of cab rides in 2011 could have been shared, if there was an easy facilitator.

[1] http://www.welcome.cabwith.me/ [2] http://www.citylab.com/cityfixer/2014/03/how-system-shared-t...


Lol be careful of Uber. They've been known to try aggressive tactics in the past.


<-- locks deadbolt


In NYC, a startup called Bandwagon has been doing this--matching users going the same way--for awhile now, and is pioneering a system for shared rides at the taxi lines of airports and events.

This is what they did at CES: http://blog.bandwagon.io/post/92569728340/meet-the-hop-lane-...


How soon are we going to see demonstrations of Uber drivers complaining about Uberpoolers taking their business?


Seems like Uber will eventually converge on a model of privately-owned publicly-accessible mass transportation.


This could easily be extended to larger vehicles (minibus) plying regular and popular routes at peak times. Do a pick up from a few square blocks and drop in a particular work district. Could be more convenient than a bus and eventually approach the same pricepoint.


A buddy of mine already made and launched the exact same thing (without Uber branding, obviously): http://www.jumpinstudent.co.uk/

It was really successful; and he got bought out for a decent sum of money.


I wonder how well this would work in a less concentrated city than SF. Uber doesn't even go to my house (S of an interstate in DFW area) though I don't know why; maybe it's a volume problem which would make pooling even less likely.


There's some weird styling going on in the "Mobile Number" input box: http://i.imgur.com/bSG9eKx.png


Same on desktop chromium browser + ubuntu 14.04


I've got the same thing on ChromeOS


For a service that entirely depends on network effect, they surely aren't making adoption easy. It's the same mistake Google made with Google+.


With all the data, carpooling/sharing a ride is great.

But please, the phrase "game changer" is horribly overused today & diluted.


The most exciting thing about Uber and Lyft launching these sharing services is not owning a car in the future. What do you think?


Imagine the combination of Uber and self driving cars. If Uber succeeds, they'll own a big piece of transit infrastructure.


Every time I read about Uber I wonder who the target market is. Then I remember that as a father of three young boys our car has three car-seats in the back row, a CD in the CD player and more in the glovebox to keep the boys quiet, snacks in the center console to placate them when they're hungry, and a stroller in the trunk. And then I realize that Uber is made by and for young, single, childless people with lots of money who live in SF and NY.


I find the tone in your post a bit bizarre. It'd be like me saying:

Every time I read about Gerber I wonder who the target market is. Then I remember that I'm a childless adult with a pantry full of food and lots of takeout menus on hand. And then I realize that Gerber is made by and for old, married, child-bearing couples with who live in the Midwest.


Why does the target market need to be young, single and childless? It would work for couples without kids, or parents with kids who've left home or are being left with a sitter. Or families where the children can go 30 minutes without needing food or entertainment. Or older people who aren't keen to drive in a city or deal with parking.

Obviously those with young children specifically are in a different position and that's likely to be hard to address. You'll have a particular pram/stroller you use and specific snacks. You're more likely to be tied to your car if you don't want to be packing and unpacking each time. I get it - I have a car with a car seat for a 2yo. But there are also loads of times I'd use an Uber service alone or with my partner or even with a child if it were prevalent in my city.


I'm acutely aware of the fact that the main reason I own a car is because I'm married w/ children. When I was single I quite happily got around by bicycle and motorcycle...

But transporting young children is a specific use case, and it's a very common one where something like Uber isn't really an attractive or viable substitute for your own car given the bulky support paraphenelia required, often by law (car seats, strollers etc.)


Or just anywhere people take taxis, like when going to the airport, after a night of drinking, or on vacation without your car. If they can beat the normal cost of car ownership they could even take over commuting. Household will likely still need a car for kid transport and road trips, bit maybe not a second car. Anyone taking public transportation can easily augment it with uber for times when buses are less frequent.


And soon everyone else who doesn't have young kids, and then ultimately you: riding in the back of a far safer self-driving car.

You will be able to give your full attention to your children instead of having them distract you from the road. In the future it might seem downright irresponsible to drive your children yourself. Sure you'll drive for fun sometimes, but not with the kids in the back.


Despite your safety argument, couples with young children will be by far the last consumers to use self-driving cars.

Parents do plenty of horribly "unsafe" things with their kids, but the point is _they_ do them -- they aren't going to pass the responsibility for their children's lives on to a computer willingly. Heck, I've known people who refused to take their children on driverless trains, they sure won't put them into a driverless car.


Right, I noticed that this thread was missing the standard reply from a suburbanite parent on how X is only for young, wealthy, single people with comparatively little life experience who have no responsibilities beyond their own selves, and how X would never really work for people with real responsibilities because X doesn't provide the benefits of: having a medium/large house vs. a small apartment, suburbs vs. the city, biking and public transportation vs. an owned car, something "disruptive" vs. something tried-and-tested, slightly unconventional lifestyle vs. somewhat conventional lifestyle...

No, you didn't actually say anything like that. But your post is pretty heavy with dismissal, as opposed to just saying "I don't think that this would work for my situation because A, B, C...". I doubt that something like this can accommodate even close to most people's lifestyle and needs, but there is no need for this "pff, only those privileged young people would find this useful" crap.


re: beta signup.

How will they know if I'm in their area? I wonder if they cross-referencing my phone # with my existing Uber account.


In case any Uber employee is looking: scrolling on this page is almost non-functional on an iPhone.


And on desktop too. Page up / page down keys don't work unless you focus the page. There is a scrollbar within a scrollbar.


Is uber trying to eat its own tail?


I wonder how this will influence the legal problems Uber has here in Germany.


Germany already has such similar services. http://www.mitfahrgelegenheit.de/ etc. Uber is still not legal, because it's commercial. And those services kick out people if they just do it for the money.


Shared taxis have existed for long time. This is just optimized with the iPhone app. It's really time vs money. You are paying less but it will likely be longer trip since the other rider is not likely going to your exact location.


The signup form doesn't work in firefox nightly :/


The First Name and Last Name fields do not appear to work in Firefox. The input is correctly entered, but the text is not Visible.

Disabling the box-sizing: border-box shows the content. Anyone ever run into an issue like this before?


Ride-sharing that can actually work!


I believe Uber will be successful with this idea and kill quite a few startups in the process.


This is obviously a data grab.

Also has the potential to kill their own service. Very smart.


Data grab?

How would this give them any more data than they already have? What extra data?




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