Emily Tan
Feb 25, 2016

How Uber went from party trick to global phenomenon

MEDIA360 SUMMIT - Uber started out as a cool party trick invented by Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp and has never stopped reinventing itself, said Sam Gellman, head of operations for Uber Asia at the Media360Summit.

How Uber went from party trick to global phenomenon

Uber, a name synonymous with 'disruption', has never been afraid of disrupting itself. "Every few years, we become a new company," said Gellman. Uber, has always striven to be the next Uber. 

"Uber has always been all about luxury," he said. "It was for people who wanted to have a Mercedes S Class waiting for them at a push of a button." But on speaking with riders, Kalanick soon learnt that they honestly didn't care that much about riding in a posh car. Mostly, they were happy with a Prius, if it was cheaper, so long as the wait times were lower. 

The response was to launch Uber X at a price point lower than the average taxi. "Travis made us more accessible, but in some ways, we also became more luxurious. Because having a car wait for you is the ultimate luxury," said Gellman. Businesses, he said, should not be afraid to kill an original idea to go a new route.

In the past year, Uber has gone on to launch Uber Van, Uber Pool and with Project Beethoven, Uber updated its app with features for deaf or hard-of-hearing riders and drivers. 

"Uber went from a 'towncar company' to what it is today because it gives its people huge autonomy to make change," concluded Gellman, adding that it was, in the end, all about the talent. "In this company, if you see an issue, you have the ability to solve it yourself. We let our builders build. Our teams are kept lean for this purpose."

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