Uber’s first deck – correct about GPS and data, less so on profit


If there is such a thing as a sharing economy historian, then access to Uber‘s first pitch deck could be a 21st century equivalent of the Holy Grail.

Its former CEO and co-founder Garrett Camp has obliged and posted the 25-page document onto Medium, to mark nine years since Camp first approached the investment community with his idea for what was then known as UberCab.

The seeds of what has become a business valued at $50 billion, even after recent markdowns, are planted in the presentation, although there is a distinctly US focus to its initial roadmap. UberCab originally planned to have a fleet of energy-efficient vehicles and described itself as “the NetJets of cabs” offering a private chauffeur experience with authorised drivers serving a membership-based clientelle, starting in San Francisco and Manhattan.

That model has changed in the past nine years, but even in its pre-start-up stage UberCab recognised the potential of location-based services, facilitated by the emerging GPS technology embedded into smart phones. This was quite prescient at the time as the iPhone was only a few years old and other manufacturers and carriers were only just starting to work with GPS.

The deck reveals that, at the time, there was an app for iPhone, for Blackberry and for Symbian. Google’s Android, which went live in Sept 2008 doesn’t get a mention although the deck talks about a planned integration with Google Maps.

It also predicts that GPS tech will improve and that data will play a big role in helping to optimize the connection between drivers and passengers. It also tipped digital, cashless payments to become mainstream.

The final slide of the deck described what Uber Cabs wanted from the investors at the time – “buy three cars, develop an app, raise a few million, open a small office in San Francisco and appoint a general manager.”

Uber’s original vision has evolved and expanding over time. Most of what it said in the original deck has been delivered, although the jury is out on whether Uber has taken on one of UberCab’s operating principles and remained “profitable by design”.

 

 



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