Welcome to Uber Earth
Uber is one of the most interesting tech companies out there. Let’s talk about why.
Image: Shaye Andersoon
Do you remember when you first heard about Uber? Did you think you would hear about it again? Did you expect you would hear about it over and over, for years and years?
If you did, kudos to you. Perhaps you should consider a career in venture capital. However, I did not. I thought Uber was doomed in New York City. I thought it was another boring startup trying to solve a first-world problem for people richer than me. I thought it was a taxi company.
A few years later, Uber is arguably the most interesting company out of Silicon Valley. Between its meteoric rise and its missteps and scandals, Uber has been a goldmine for the press. Its latest valuation is $62 billion. Uber's copycats, of which there are too many to count, have also picked up huge amounts of money from investors.
As journalists, it can be tough to cover a company that produces so much news.
First, there is the disruptor angle, where Uber faces off against the establishment. At this point, Uber is waging battles in cities around the world, and it's often the same every time: Uber enters a new market, the local livery service and regulators push back, Uber pushes forward, the rules bend, and the company sinks in roots.
Second, there is the human rights angle, where 1) Uber the company has so much control over the fate of its drivers that its ethics as an employer are called into question, or 2) Uber the company has so little control over its drivers' actions that some of them molest women and attack service dogs, or 3) Uber, the new way of getting around, is enabling discrimination—or, wait, now it's disrupting discrimination.
Motherboard will be exploring the ways Uber has changed the world already and how it might continue to do so in the future
Third, there is the far-future angle, where Uber hints at a fundamental change in transportation and therefore in the way human civilizations are organized. Uber says its service means fewer people will own cars. Eventually, Uber will likely use its network to transport more than just people, which we've already started to see with Uber RUSH, Uber Eats, and those promotions where Uber brings puppies to your office. Eventually eventually, Uber cars will be driverless, which will free up a lot of capital at the company to conquer other markets.
Uber is one of the few popular tech companies that could fundamentally change the way we work, play, live, and spend our money, and it's set up to become one of the most powerful corporate titans in the US, if not the world.
The seven-year-old company has already rewired neighborhoods in Los Angeles, influenced Ford and GM to start investing in ridesharing divisions, and become a powerhouse in small business banking. Despite the fact that I live in the most walkable city in the country on a street that is teeming with cabs, I personally spent $431.49 on 33 Uber trips in the last two years, including rides in Toronto, London, Lisbon, and Los Angeles.
What was Uber's real innovation? How did it become part of my life so quickly? Is its continued ascent guaranteed, or is there still time to turn back? Would we even want to?
From May 23 to May 27, Motherboard will be exploring the ways Uber has changed the world already and how it might continue to do so in the future.
Since the topic is so narrow, and many Motherboard staff writers are already working on pieces for this theme, we're just looking for a few select, killer pitches. (Please also see our previous coverage of Uber—we don't want to rehash anything we've written before.)
Reach out to your favorite editor or send a pitch to firstname.lastname@example.org in the following format: headline, dek, three to four sentence summary with no question marks, word count, and deadline.