Uber Technologies is an American app-based transportation platform headquartered in San Francisco, California. Launched in 2010, Uber may be best known for pioneering the ride-hailing business, but the $68 billion company has much broader ambitions. In 2016, it acquired Silicon Valley startup Otto and incorporated its hardware and software systems into a self-driving truck, which then successfully delivered 50,000 cans of Budweiser, demonstrating the viability of autonomous trucking.
CEO Travis Kalanick’s vision, of course, is that Uber would operate a fleet of autonomous trucks that could deliver goods anywhere and anytime. That’s not possible yet, but the 10,000-person company is eager for new businesses that can help it become profitable. But Uber will have to stave off competing autonomous vehicle initiatives from rivals like Ford, GM, and Google if it wants to be the king of the robot car and truck.
Uber's most valuable asset is its data, which has been an important part of Uber's business since it first launched. In addition to using user data to improve the Uber experience, the company has also locked in deals to monetize its data with other companies. In 2015, Uber launched a partnership with Starwood Hotels & Resorts that allows Starwood Preferred Guest members to get points whenever they take an Uber. In return, customers who opt in let the ride-hailing company pass useful data onto Starwood. But data has also been at the center of some controversy for Uber, which has been accused of mishandling the reams of data it collects from user rides. And while Uber uses data analysis to determine when to deploy its "surge pricing" during times of high demand, the company has also come under fire from the incumbent taxi industry for its highly competitive low pricing, which has helped it disrupt that sector. Uber is currently available in 73 countries across the globe.