Uber is a venture-funded start-up from San Francisco that enables customers to summon a ride using a smartphone app. The service acts like a metered taxi, but users don’t have to pay cash. They simply register upfront, provide their credit card details, and request a ride at the touch of a button.

Uber contracts private drivers who are required to pass stringent vehicle inspections and personal background checks. To further ensure a smooth ride for all parties involved, both the driver and the customer are prompted to feedback via the app after each trip.

This ground-breaking company launched its services in South Africa during August 2013 with the same ambitious objectives it has for other markets around the world. Uber aims to offer transport that is so fast, reliable, and affordable that it will eventually eradicate the need for individual car ownership.

While this may seem utopian to some, there is no doubt that the company is growing fast enough to ruffle the feathers of its competitors in taxi industries around the world. In South Africa, however, the GM for Uber Johannesburg Alon Lits urges taxi operators to view his company as “an ally”.

“We are always looking for opportunities to partner with local meter taxi drivers and changing the way people get around their cities. We are making the pie bigger for everyone.

“In South Africa there are alternative transport options, but customers can get a ride when they need it with Uber. Uber is convenient, transparent and safe, as you get to track your driver on the application… It is easier to get around with Uber,” he told Moneyweb.

In early June, Uber announced that it had raised USD 1.2 billion in primary capital at a USD 17 billion pre-money valuation – a mere four years after starting operations. Today, you can hail a ride from this innovative transport company in 128 cities around the world, with millions of consumers connecting to the platform. Uber has no plans to go public now, but this is definitely one to watch!

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