By late March 2014, the ridesharing company Uber was on a roll, rapidly expanding service to untapped markets and gaining new, enthusiastic customers, as well as a few vocal and visible detractors. Uber’s innovative organization of the supply-demand matching process produced eager customers who recruited others. Buzz marketing and aggressive recruitment of drivers augmented growth. This case presents Uber as an example of a middleman adding real value for consumers and upstream suppliers (limo drivers). Unlike Tesla, which battled to sell cars directly to the public, Uber created value by adding a layer between limos and prospective riders, organizing the market for convenience and transparency for both sides. Where Uber stirred up the competitive equivalent of a hornet’s nest was with expansion from the livery car market into the taxi service market with UberX. The material allows for a lively discussion around disruptive digital technology and the firm’s business model.
Darden Business Publishing – University of Virginia