A 708 percent increase in media mentions in one year. 1.1 million rides requested per week. 2014 found the entire taxi industry up in arms at a new, potent, and unignorable threat: Ridesharing and its major players.
Last week, Uber announced a $1.2 billion round of fundraising that could end up as high as $1.8 billion, bringing the company’s valuation to a staggering $40 billion. Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick claims that next year, Uber will generate more than 1 million jobs worldwide.
These changes have not come without consequence: Taxi ridership has declined anywhere from 10 to 30 percent in the cities where services like Uber have entered the market. NPR’s Marketplace reported at the end of 2013 that Los Angeles’ largest taxi company, Yellow Cab LA, had 15 percent fewer calls coming in—on the heels of four years of double digit growth, to boot.
It’s perhaps no surprise that ridesharing and taxis have often shown up in the press together. Our friends at Trendkite helped us dig up some stats: Of the 23,041 press mentions of “ridesharing, Uber, and Lyft” in 2014, a full 8,100 of them, or 35 percent, also included the word “taxi.” And it’s also no surprise that Uber owns the lion’s share of press, as well as the market: the terms “Uber” and “Ridesharing” were mentioned 30,528 times—compare that to 3,796 articles mentioning “Lyft” and “Ridesharing” only. So how did we get to a place of such explosive growth? What primed companies like Uber and Lyft for such success, and how did 2014 change their plans even further? The Zebra dug into the research, and the results are clear: This was, indeed, the year of ridesharing.
2014: The Year of Ridesharing
Looking Ahead: What Will 2015 Bring?
What’s perhaps most interesting about these companies’ growth is that it has the potential to move far beyond simply disrupting the taxi industry. In fact, it is no less than Kalanick’s stated goal to eliminate car ownership in this country. John Zimmer, Lyft co-founder, says: “The taxi market in the U.S. is an $11 billion market. We’re going after a $1 trillion market, which is the owning and operation of a car by every American household.” Car ownership is an integral part of the American cultural fabric, but it’s still a worthwhile question: Could ridesharing change that? Four of out every five commuters drive to work alone—could ridesharing change that, too?
At least some people think so: The Washington Post‘s Nancy Scola just published a piece titled “Uber’s not a $40 billion start-up. It’s a mid-sized car company.” She explains that because Uber’s stated goal is to become a “meaningful substitute” for people owning cars, Uber should consider car companies—and not ridesharing companies like Lyft or Sidecar or the taxi industry—its competitors.