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Uber Technologies To Provide Real-time Rider Data to the Public… Is There an Ulterior Motive?

Uber Technologies has fought cities around the globe over ridesharing legalities. Yet now the ridesharing giant is working with cities by providing ridership data – for free. Why the sudden change of heart?



Uber Technologies has fought cities around the globe over ridesharing legalities. CEO Travis Kalanick has often gone with the “ask forgiveness, not permission” strategy for his company, preferring to launch operations first and then deal with whether or not ridesharing is allowed in the city. The company fought with regulators around the world to keep its ridership data private. Yet now the ridesharing giant is working with cities by providing ridership data – for free.

Why the sudden change of heart?

Does Uber see a bigger picture play here?

Is There an Ulterior Motive to Uber’s Real-time Rider Data Exposé?

Uber passed 2 billion rides given this past summer, and has been active in 450 cities around the world. But even as Uber continues to expand, the company has shown weaknesses. In fact, company losses are expected to hit $3 billion for 2016, despite revenue growth. Meanwhile, Uber is now giving away its ridership data –which was a prized possession — for free.

Why does a company bleeding billions want to give away its most valuable information? Does Uber have a plan here?

Uber is ready to give away its data to the world at no charge in the next few weeks via its site The ride-hailing titan will provide anonymized data from cities around the world. Users will be able to look up travel times during specific time slots, such as rush hour, from any locations within a city, helping people plan their travel more efficiently. But more importantly, the data will show city planners traffic patterns. Those patterns will be intraday as well as over days, weeks, months, and even years, allowing planners to understand better than ever before traffic congestion issues within their cities.

It’s a brilliant move by Uber.

The company is giving away prized data to gain access to cities in which it isn’t allowed to operate.

Uber may deny that that’s the agenda, but if cities such as New York City or Austin, Texas –both notorious for traffic problems — want to gain access to this kind of insight, they have to give Uber access to their city. Not only that, but Uber can show those cities a direct correlation between its existence and improved traffic conditions, especially at problematic hours such as rush hour, and weekend nights where too many cars on the road are driven by people who have been drinking.

Regardless of motive, Uber is performing a massive service, and should reap massive rewards as a result.

Watch this video to see what Uber (and Taxi) Drivers think about Ridesharing

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  • TxMike says:

    It’s not really a “brilliant” move by Uber, but rather the tried and true “loss leader” marketing approach. Give away something valuable for cheap or free in order to gain more valuable business in the future. But kudos to CEO Travis Kalanick for having a firm grasp of the obvious.

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