Uber is expected to pull in about $125 million in revenue this year, higher than expected, AllThingsD reports.
San Francisco-based Uber was founded in 2009 with a black car service and it has spread to 35 cities and added services that include SUVs, minicabs and private cars driven by people who are not licensed professional drivers.
Uber are starting to have a destabilising effect on Taxi trades all over America as well as Europe. Milan, Paris and Rome have all recently seen Taxi drivers striking over unfair competition from unlicensed drivers.
London is a huge target which some would say, is the jewel in the crown. But, instead of looking to what's happening on two continents as a wake up call, the capitals drivers seem to be uninterested and are sleepwalking into oblivion.
In early 2012, Taxi leaks warned about the start up of mobile apps in London, third party set ups such as Ubi cars and Minicabit were advertising all over he media and on-line as "Taxi suppliers".
As third parties, they were/are unlicensed, LTPH said they couldn't do anything to shut them down.
Taxi Leaks has always felt LTPH didn't do enough, but without any back up from the United Trade Group, they probably felt no need to pursue the case. The predicted onslaught came from UberX in April last year and has now escalated to a dangerous level.
Read the article below from SFGate, to see the devastation Uber and UberX have bought, to a once great trade in San Fransico.
Nearly everyone who's tried to catch a cab on a Saturday night in San Francisco or summon a ride downtown from the Sunset knows that the city's taxi system has been badly stressed for years. And now, with the influx of unregulated competition from Uber, Lyft, Sidecar and other transportation network companies, the cab business is beginning to crumble.
Taxi companies are having trouble filling shifts, veteran drivers are bailing out and going to work for the app-based ride services, and people interested in hauling folks around the city for a living are heading to the upstart startups instead of the cab companies.
"Every cab company I know of is having a huge problem filling shifts - including mine," said Hansu Kim, owner of DeSoto Cab Co.
Kim estimates that a quarter to a third of all taxi-driving shifts are going unfilled. "I couldn't possibly begin to quantify it," said Christiane Hayashi, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's director of taxis and accessible services. "The taxi companies don't even know. But what I can see is a serious problem related to driver shortage."
But business is apparently booming for the new ride services, which have thousands of cars on the streets and are on a hiring spree, with billboards and online ads enticing drivers with promises of making up to $40 an hour and setting their own schedules.
How many new cars are for hire is impossible to determine because the companies aren't required to report the numbers or names of the drivers or vehicles they put on the streets - and they aren't talking about the details.
Taxi drivers, who have been taking photos of license plates of ride service cars, estimate the number at 3,000. Some industry observers think that number may be closer to 5,000 - and growing as the new ride services engage in lively recruiting campaigns.
"They've flooded the streets with too much supply," said Trevor Johnson, a taxi driver and a director of the San Francisco Cab Drivers Association. "It's already the Wild West out there. Go down Polk Street on Saturday at 10 p.m. and every car out there is for hire. It's gridlock."
San Francisco's Municipal Transportation Agency, which oversees all things transportation-related, including taxis, would like to regulate the ride services - and the cab industry has repeatedly called on it and the Police Department to do so. But the state Public Utilities Commission, which regulates passenger carriers such as limousines and buses, has asserted jurisdiction, and cleared the road for the services to continue.
After a series of hearings, the commission last fall issued regulations requiring each company to obtain a license from the PUC, conduct criminal background checks and establish driver training programs, have zero-tolerance drug and alcohol policies, and conduct 19-point vehicle inspections. They also must have a minimum $1 million worth of insurance for each driver and vehicle, on top of a driver's personal insurance. That minimum is more than what's required of taxi and limo companies. But there's also been confusion and concern over when drivers are covered and whether their personal policies cover them.
Before new drivers can get behind the wheel of a taxi, they have to go through a four-day private taxi school plus a single day of MTA training.
Taxi drivers and cab company owners have a long history of not getting along, but they're united in their opposition to the newcomers. They say the PUC regulations are minimal, essentially allowing anyone to haul passengers for money in their personal cars with a minimum of rules and red tape. That makes it easier for ride services to hire drivers, they say.
"Who wants to go through the process of getting a license and going through training when you can just get a couple of apps and start picking up people in your 1999 Mazda?" Kim says.
While the new ride services are battering the taxi industry, they're a boon for folks just wanting to get a ride around town - even to longtime taxi aficionados like Lee Houskeeper, a publicist who doesn't own a car and considers himself friends with Luxor Cab Co. owner John Lazar.
Houskeeper, who takes cab rides daily, said he became a convert to UberX, one of the new mobile phone services, after Lazar installed an app on his phone and asked him to check out the competition. Houskeeper said it's usually easier, cheaper and speedier to summon a ride with Uber.