Until 2009 you had very limited options while getting from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ in San Francisco, especially if you wanted to arrive in style. This simply didn’t work for Garrett Camp and Travis Kalanick, who wanted a limo company in San Fran, without having to run a traditional limo company.
They put their heads together and in 2010 the wonderful service we all have grown to know and love, Uber, hit the streets.
The History of Uber and The Cities They’ve Conquered.
Uber, originally named UberCab, released their drivers onto the streets of San Francisco via mobile apps for iPhone and Android in 2010. Starting with one full-time employee, Ryan Graves (former CEO and current Head of Global Operations), Uber started taking the streets by storm.
In 2010 while experiencing an excellent response from clients, Uber started turning the heads of major investors who wanted in on the action. By early 2011 Uber had raised more than $11.5 million in funding efforts lead by Benchmark Capital.
Later in 2011 Uber proceeded to raise another $32 million from investors including Goldman Sachs, Menlo Ventures and Bezos Expeditions. Uber continued to grow rapidly and by December of 2011 current CEO, Travis Kalanick had said in response to their growing demand that Uber planned to move into 25 more cities outside of the US within the upcoming months.
Uber’s most notable investors now include Goldman Sachs, Benchmark, Menlo, Lowercase Capital, First Round Capital and Google Ventures.
Uber currently reigns over 26 countries with service available in 33 cities in North America, as well as cities in Central and South America, Asia, Europe, Africa and The Middle East. To see the complete list of where Uber will pick you up, click here.
How Does Uber Work?
If you are one of the few that hasn’t tried Uber yet, we’ll give you a quick tutorial.
The Uber app is really user friendly, and pretty self explanatory. After downloading the app and opening it for the first time you will need to set up your account, this includes inputting your name, address, and a credit card to keep on file (you will never have to manually pay or tip a driver, ever).
After your account is set up, you’re good to go.
- Your initial screen will look like the first of the three pictured above, showing you where the closest Uber cars are in relation to you and how long it will take them to be at your door. Just check to make sure the address is correct, then click the button on the screen to order a car.
- Once you have requested a car and the driver has been notified (almost immediately) you will see your driver’s name, a photo, their license plate number, contact information and their rating from past passengers.
- As the car pulls up Uber will notify you, when you get to the car and are greeted by a nice man in a suit who holds the door for you, you give them the address of your destination, like any other cab, and you’re on your way.
- When arriving to your destination there is no trying to decide whether you will pay by cash or credit (and no rude cabbie insisting you use cash). You simply thank the driver and are on your way. Uber will email you your receipt, and the next time you open the app you will be prompted to rate your driver on a 5-star scale, ensuring that only the best of the best stay with Uber.
Best thing about Uber? We have $10 off your first ride for you if you click here.
Uber Car Choices
Uber offers four different ranges of vehicle (depending on location and status).
UberX is the cheapest option from Uber. In New York, we’ve received all of the following vehicles as UberX: Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Ford Escape, Toyota Prius, Nissan Altima, Toyota Sienna, Lincoln Town Car, and Honda Pilot.
If this is your first time, and you have no expectations, we suggest starting out and strictly using UberX for most of your rides. Only if you have a party of 5+ should you splurge on the SUV, which is a lot more expensive.
Black Car is the default town car experience most New Yorkers know. Uber has been rumored to be improving the experience from Black Car pickups, and will be working to move town cars down to UberX and focusing on luxury vehicles for black car.
In New York, on Uber Black Car we’ve received: Mercedes Benz S550, Lincoln MKZ, and Mercedes ML350.
In a recent interview, Travis Kalanick said that Uber Black Cars are going to offer a baseline of a 2013 Ford Explorer, which is a big upgrade over a Town Car. This would then push Town Cars down to UberX, and bring a level of luxury to Uber Black.
Uber SUV is the most expensive option, and can really rack up a bill for you. The benefit of the SUV is it seats 5+ people, which is not allowed on any other Uber car.
In New York, we’ve received: Chevrolet Suburban, Cadillac Escalade, Lincoln Navigator, and GMC Denali.
Uber VIP is their, some would say, not so great frequent customers program wherein you get access to Black Car level vehicles driven by drivers with ratings above 4.7 stars (on a scale of 1-5) for the same price as normal Black Car.
Regardless of how you feel about VIP, I love it for a couple of reasons. One, it opens up another slot on the app, so when it comes time for surge pricing, Uber Black Car may be on surge, but VIP is not. Additionally, with VIP, you are more likely to get a higher-end car.
The nicest cars I’ve had with VIP are: Mercedes Benz S550, BMI 728i.
Typical vehicles: Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Suburban, Lincoln MKZ, Lincoln Town Car
In case the one thing that crossed your mind was “What if I’m not riding alone, and I don’t want to pick up the entire cab fare?” Uber’s got you covered. Just invite your friends on the app (as pictured above) to split the fare with you and all friends that accept will be charged equally.
No more owing drinks to one another when you get to your destination.
Uber Perks, Tips and Extras
Want to be treated like even more of a VIP? Take 100 rides with Uber in select cities and you will be automatically upgraded to Uber VIP. VIP has the same pricing as their standard black car service, but because you are such a valued customer you can have the ability to request only the highest rated drivers, further guaranteeing you have a flawless trip.
Tired of being stuck in the city over the 4th of July? Last July Uber offered a special promotion called “UberChopper,” where for $3,000 you could request a personal helicopter to take you from NYC to the Hamptons (black car door-to-door service included). Can a car service app get any cooler than that?
Another of Uber’s great ideas: the UberTree. Shortly before Christmas in select cities Uber offered Christmas trees on-demand. For $135 Uber would bring you a Christmas tree and all the necessities to go with it. With innovation and creativity like this, we can’t wait to see what Uber surprises us with next.
Uber Coupon: $10-20 Off
Uber is running a special promotion for all first-time customers. If this is your first time, you can currently receive $20 off your first ride. Click on our referral link below, we’ll also receive $10, so we thank you in advance:
The one bad thing about everyone loving Uber? Surge pricing. When the demand goes up, so does the fare. Once the high demand goes back to normal so do the rates, and you are informed before you book the ride, so there won’t be any surprise charges. Want to know more about surge pricing? Click here and see how Uber explains it.
Our Final Thoughts on Uber
We love it. We can’t get enough of it. We are definitely Uber supporters and we suggest you give it a try (and then realize you will never want a standard taxi again). Click here for $10 off your first ride, you won’t be disappointed.