Uber began five years ago as a simple startup, but has now become synonymous with getting a ride from someone other than a cab. Its services have been so good that The Geek Church has reported that San Francisco taxi use has dropped 65 percent due to the presence of Uber and Lyft, a similar ride-sharing service. However, with big business can come big problems, and Uber has had both for this year.
According to CNET, Uber has received over $2.4 billion in funding, which gives it a valuation of at least $41.2 billion. They have also reported that 2014 began with an Uber driver who allegedly struck and killed a 6-year-old girl in San Francisco. This driver has been banned from Uber's system, but it was enough to draw suspicion on its screening and training policies of Uber and other ride-sharing systems.
The Washington Post reports that in June, Virginia's Department of Motor Vehicles told Uber Technologies that their service was illegal and needed to cease operations within Virginia's border. Uber responded by having its customers send emails and phone calls to the DMV, asking them to demand that Uber be reinstated within Virginia. Uber lobbyists won a reprieve within 48 hours of the order, showing that the demand for Uber seems to outweigh the negative possibilities that come with the ride-sharing service.
Venture Beat reports that Uber also had some negative publicity last month due to some comments on Buzzfeed made by Uber's senior vice president Emil Michael, who thought that "Uber would be justified in hiring an opposition research team to dig up dirt on journalists, such as Pando Daily's Sarah Lacy". Lacy has accused Uber CEO Travis Kalanick as being one to "cultivate a culture of abrasiveness, jerkiness, and -in Uber's case-misogyny".
The next day, a similar report from Buzzfeed has shown that Uber's top New York executive used the company's "God View" tool to track a reporter's Uber travel without her consent on at least two separate occasions. This controversy was given the name of #Ubergate.
With all the controversy with Uber, the company is still making huge profits. While it is certain that tougher screening of Uber drivers is in store for 2015, Uber consumers can't help but be nervous at a service that involves getting in a car with a stranger. Businesses that depend on the goodness of its users, such as eBay, always have insurances in place should transactions go sour, but sadly, if things go bad with an Uber driver, they may have already done their worst after the infraction has been reported. In other words, 2015 will most certainly have its share of Uber complaints, but the Uber will view them as "a few bad apples" for this profit-generating company.