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UberKITTENS and 10 other interesting facts about Uber

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Collage of a litter of kittens and a person using the Uber app on a smartphone.
The UberKITTENS service allows users to have some hug-time with cats and dogs in seven states in the US. (Source: Getty)

Uber's ubiquitous presence in more than 80 countries has made it the most recognisable ride-hailing service worldwide.

Founded in 2009, it is also the largest ride-sharing company in the world and has disrupted the transportation space with its cutting-edge technology and boundless growth.

In its very first IPO, on May 9, 2019, the company was valued as high as $161 billion and, at one time, it also enjoyed the status of the highest-valued private startup company in the world.

Despite its phenomenal popularity, there's much about the history of the company and some of its services that are not widely known.

Here are 10 of those eye-opening facts.

Uber's first CEO a college dropout

Travis Kalanick, the co-founder and CEO of Uber, went to UCLA to study computer engineering and business economics.

He dropped out of college to work on his startup, Scour, which was an online file-sharing service.

However, problems with lawsuits led to Scour filing for bankruptcy and eventually shutting down.

He then went on to create another peer-to-peer file-sharing software, Red Swoosh, which sold for $25.5 million to Akamai Technologies in 2007.

Travis Kalanick speaks during a panel discussion.
Travis Kalanick dropped out of UCLA to work on his file-sharing startup Scour. (Source: Getty)

In 2008, Kalanick and Garrett Camp met at the LeWeb tech conference in France, where Camp spoke with Kalanick about an idea he had to reduce the cost of black car services (chauffeur-driven luxury car services).

A year later, Uber was established.

Uber’s first name wasn't Uber

Kalanick and Camp did not originally call their company Uber.

It was first called UberCab, which obviously defined the nature of the company. However, the name faced backlash from San Francisco cab and taxi drivers, who opposed the use of the words 'cab' or 'taxi' for cars that weren't outwardly branded as taxis. (Cabs and taxis in San Francisco are usually, but not always, yellow and bear the word "Taxi".)

When the official app was released in San Francisco in 2011, the name was changed to Uber.

Uber not the only Uber

The ride-hailing company shares its epithet with that of a New York-based design firm called Uber Inc.

Uber Inc. faced some trouble on account of the similarity in names.

Since the ride-sharing company did not believe in providing a phone number for customer service, its employees and passengers would call the design company to resolve their queries.

Old cars can't be used for Uber

All cars used to transport passengers through the Uber app must be within 10 years of age and need to have a minimum of four doors.

This rule is purely for the convenience of the users.

Uber has a 'kitten-sharing' service

While Uber has many subsidiary services - such as UberEats, Uber Freight and Uber Health - there is one very cute and surprising service called UberKITTENS.

This service allows users to get some hug-time with cats and dogs in seven states in the US. It was established to prompt customers to adopt furry babies.

Uber's exclusive magazine is only for its drivers

Not only does Uber have useful subsidiary services, but it also has its own print and online magazine, Momentum.

But this magazine is available exclusively for Uber drivers.

Uber has a three-employee policy

As a rule, Uber hires only three employees per city who are responsible for handling all the operations within that city. For any concerns, these three people have to be contacted.

Uber rides are comparatively expensive

Due to its base fares, cost per km and cost per minute, Uber Black luxury rides are more expensive when compared to the same services offered by rival companies.

To address this drawback and attract more customers, Uber launched UberX, which offered a less-expensive car as an alternative to black car services.

Ratings make a huge difference to Uber

Uber passengers and drivers can rate each on a scale of five.

If the driver earns an average rating below 4.6, his or her profile could get deactivated.

Longest Uber ride was 3,631km

Famous YouTuber Mr Beast was taken on a trip by Uber driver Anthony, from North Carolina to California, covering 3,631 kilometres in 2017.

The driver was a former truckie, who said a long-distance ride wasn’t a big deal for him.

The total cost of the ride was $7,380. Mr Beast also tipped Anthony an extra $7,380 to make his return trip worthwhile, according to largest.org.

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