How Uber conquered London | Sam Knight | Technology | The Guardian

Spread the love




Every week in London, 30,000 people download Uber to their phones and order a car for the first time. The technology company, which is worth $60bn, calls this moment “conversion”. Uber has deployed its ride-hailing platform in 400 cities around the world since its launch in San Francisco on 31 May 2010, which means that it enters a new market every five days and eight hours. It sets great store on the first time you use its service, in the same way that Apple pays attention to your first encounter with one of their devices. With Uber, the feeling should be of plenty, and of assurance: there will always be a driver when you need one. When you open the app, Uber’s logo flaps briefly before disappearing to reveal the city streets around you, and the grey, yet promising shapes of vehicles nurdling nearby. The sense of abundance that this invokes can make you think that Uber has always been here, that its presence in your neighbourhood is somehow natural and ordained. But that is not the case. To take over a city, Uber flies in a small team, known as “launchers” and hires its first local employee, whose job it is to find drivers and recruit riders. In London, that was a young Scottish banker named Richard Howard. Howard was 27 and had recently been made redundant by HSBC, where he sold credit default swaps, a form of derivative that became notorious during the financial crisis. He grew up in Glasgow, where his father sold musical instruments, and never felt entirely at home in the deferential, bonus-driven atmosphere of investment banking. When he lost his job in November 2011, Howard figured that tech must be the coming thing. He began to trawl technology news and, like a lot other people, was struck by reports of a fundraising round for a startup called Uber the following month. It wasn’t just the money – a valuation of $300m for a company that had been up and running for 17 months – but the seriousness of the players involved: Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon; Menlo Ventures, one of Silicon Valley’s oldest venture capital firms; Goldman Sachs. On 7 December, Howard found Uber’s website and sent them an email. “I emailed whatever it was, help@uber, info@uber, and said, ‘Hey, I would love to work with you guys. I live in London. Are you coming to London?’” he told me recently. By Christmas, Uber had replied. After a couple of Skype interviews, Howard travelled to Paris to meet the Uber team there – at the time, Paris was the only city outside North America where the company was operating – and in February 2012, Howard was hired. He filled in his contact information on a company-wide spreadsheet. He tried to work out whether he was Uber employee number 50, or 51. Read All Comments: http://www.comentarismo.com/news/theguardianhow-uber-conquered-london-sam-knight-technology-the-guardian


Source by Comentarismo Accessible News & Products

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.