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Uber's "convenient, classy, reliable ride"--in the words of CEO and cofounder Travis Kalanick--fuses tech with cabs: Call a ride using its app or the web, and Uber's algorithms and sophisticated data analysis positions its cars to be there within minutes. Its clever marketing stunts earn customer loyalty and grab attention--though perhaps not as much as Kalanick's brashness as he challenges what he perceives to be outmoded local transportation laws.

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[Illustration by Rod Hunt]