Uber became the highest-valued startup in the world by building a platform marketplace between car owners and passengers. Much like Airbnb, Uber tapped into the sharing economy and disrupted transportation as we know it. Uber also helped popularize a new economy — the gig economy — while wielding even more disruptive power. Society embraced Uber’s marketplace so heavily that Uber continues to grow as it pivots into bikes, delivery, and logistics. Uber even acquired Postmates, a food delivery company, furthering its market share.
Uber is the most disruptive marketplace to date. At face value, the concept is obvious. A consumer needs a ride, calls a ride through the platform (app), and a ride appears in minutes. An algorithm optimized downtime for drivers and schedules the most convenient routes. The marketplace is a disruptive business model. The taxi disappeared into a service on an app in every phone (dematerialized). The cost of rides dramatically decreased (demonetized), and anybody was able to download the app as a driver or passenger, then matched by an algorithm in nearly every market around the world (democratized).
What’s really compelling about the Uber equation is that it extends beyond the consumer half, and into the producer half. Like Airbnb, the sharing economy is at play when those who own cars (producers) can share them and make money from them. However, Uber’s marketplace went a step further with the gig economy, which was basically mainstream freelancing. Uber became a side hustle for some or a full-time contractor job for others, as car owners drove the cars for Uber themselves. In the gig economy, there’s no need for nine-to-five schedules or bosses; you can clock into the marketplace at will and make as much money as you want.
Uber’s marketplace disruption and popularity made it essential for life. Uber became a verb like so many other companies before it, including Google and Facebook. Uber knew what was coming next: another disruption. How does one stay the big fish in the small pond? They eat the rest of the fish while they’re still small.
Yet Google, Tesla, and Apple have now entered the autonomous car industry, a parallel industry pushing transportation into a new paradigm. The autonomous car will inevitably remove human drivers (dematerialize), demonetization will exponentially lower…