Ride or Die
Ride or Die
Yesterday, we broke the news that Uber, the San Francisco-based request-a-ride service, was close to launching an app in New York City to let you digitally hail and pay for a yellow cab with your smartphone. The launch was planned for today, but hit a road block in discussions with the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC)–prompting CEO Travis Kalanick to offer free taxi rides for New Yorkers for a week while they sorted it out.
This morning, we spoke to Mr. Kalanick, as well as Uber NYC’s general manager Josh Mohrer by phone. Both offered more detail regarding what Uber’s taxi app might cost riders and drivers, why the launch was delayed (cough Verifone cough), and why they rushed into the market (hint: it concerns a different kind of British invasion).
Ride or Die
Update 9/6/2012: The TLC just issued a statement reminding drivers they are not authorized to use digitally hailing or payment apps. Uber CEO says, “We believe we are totally legal.”
Check out our interview with Uber about its plans for taxi service New York City.
Earlier this afternoon, Betabeat broke the news that Uber planned on launching a request-a-ride app for yellow cabs in New York City that would let riders digitally hail and pay for taxis with their smartphones. The company already offers a similar service here for private black sedans and SUVs.
However, Uber’s plan ran into some delays as the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission tried to make sure that it complied with city rules and payments regulations.
The Real TechStars of New York
A source has informed Betabeat that Uber–the pricey, San Francisco-based request-a-ride app for black cars–plans on an imminent launch for a similar service for yellow cabs in New York City. Uber already lets riders in New York City order and pay for private sedans and SUVs from their smartphone, but this new launch would Read More
New Kids On the Block
You know what they say about karma, so don’t make us repeat it. It looks like good intentions backfired with Karma, a 4G hotspot provider initially founded in Amsterdam that presented this morning at TechStars Demo Day.
In press materials for the spring class, Karma’s one-line descriptor was: “Simple, honest 4G provider,” a sentiment repeated throughout its introductory blog post. But shortly after Demo Day ended, Travis Kalanick, the CEO of request-a-ride car app Uber, tweeted that Karma’s CEO Robert Gaal had not been honest in mentioning a partnership with Uber during the company’s pitch in front of crowd of more than 700 at Webster Hall.
When someone forwarded Betabeat Aubrey Sabala’s New Year’s Eve Uber misgivings (“@Aubs While I’m glad I’m home safely, the $107 charge for my @Uber to drive 1.5 miles last night seems insanely excessive. :(“) before we’d even woken up Sunday morning to greet 2012, we knew the holiday backlash against the car service app was on its way. (A different type of holiday backlash, mind you, than the Halloween 2010 incident that left 95 percent of customers stranded.)
Not everyone was appeased by Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s apology the next day, in which he called the evening an overall success despite 95 complaints and 15 users who didn’t get the surge-pricing notifications that a safe, prompt, and sober driver on New Year’s Eve was going to cost them a pretty penny, or in some cases, a pretty Benjamin.
The Third Degree
On-demand car service Uber has had a bit of trouble seguing into New York and now even has competition on its tail in the upstart Groundlink. Betabeat broke the story that two of the three Uber employees resigned in September, just four months after the office opened. Now the company is gearing up for a launch in Europe (a landgrab for the mobile app enabled car service market) and this morning revealed a new logo. “Words that come to mind: Distinguished, Efficient, Elegant, Convenient, Modern, Luxurious, Quality, Service, Baller, Like-Woah,” says Uber in the announcement.
Betabeat just learned that Uber’s three-person New York office, which opened four months ago, has already weathered a couple big staffing shake-ups. Both New York general manager Matthew Kochman and New York community manager James Aviaz have resigned. The San Francisco startup, which has picked up a total of $12.5 million in in financing, lets users request car service (in the case of New York, a black towncar) by texting your pickup location or inputting it into an iPhone or Android app. On the eve of Uber’s launch in Chicago tomorrow, we talked to CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick about the state of Uber’s rollout in New York and how these resignations will affect its efforts.