The History of Uber

Written by Phin Upham

Uber began in Paris in 2008. Founders Garret Camp and Travis Kalanick were enjoying wine and food at the LeWeb conference. During a night-time crawl, the two were eagerly discussing what is next in the landscape of the Internet. Garret was doing what he called “hard time” over at eBay, where he had just completed the sale of his previous company “StumbleUpon.”

Garret recognized the taxi problem in San Francisco and thought out loud about ways to solve it. Like any San Franciscan, he’d been caught after hours without a ride many times before. The original pitch was just for the two of them. They would split the costs of a full time driver, hire a Mercedes S Class to roll them around in style, and pay for a private parking spot. They decided they would code an app to make the whole service on-demand.

Fortunately, Kalanick and Garret grounded themselves and worked on an idea they could sell. Garret began work mocking up the iPhone app while Kalanick worked on getting the product from prototype to deployable.

Uber ran its first test in 2010, running three cars around the city of New York. Initially, the founders believed the company would be fairly low-tech. Ultimately, they had to spend a significant amount of time honing the driver pricing, car models and just about everything else that is involved with the service. Today, Uber rivals taxi companies all over the United States and has effectively disrupted the private car service model.


Phin Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Phin on his Twitter page.