By most measures, Uber has had a pretty good year: numerous political victories, new product launches, and scary amounts of cash raised. And the hits keep coming. On Christmas Eve in London, the ride-hailing company added a cherry on top: its billionth trip.
An uberX driver named Ara picked up a man named Marvin in his blue Honda Insight Hybrid, and drove him 1.6 miles from London Fields to Hoxton in the East End. The trip cost £5, or about $7.40.
The lucky rider is getting free Uber rides for a year
Uber's come a long way from its start as a two-car operation in San Francisco in 2009. At the end of 2014, the company bragged that it was up to a million trips a day. A year later, it said it was logging 3 million trips a day in 66 countries. And it's raising cash almost as quickly as it's adding riders: last month it was reported that Uber was seeking another $2.1 billion in financing, for a valuation of $62.5 billion.
Uber's biggest rival, Lyft, hasn't publicized its trip totals. But according to an internal report obtained by TechCrunch earlier this year, Lyft projected to do nearly 13 million rides per month in 2015. Altogether, the company is targeting nearly 90 million rides in total for 2015, which it expects to more than double to 205 million in the year following. Or about one-fifth the total already achieved by Uber.
Uber routinely celebrates its millionth trip in each of the cities in which it operates with a round of gift-giving: free rides, concert tickets, and other promotions. But instead of blanketing the city of London with goodies, Uber is making this milestone all about the driver, the passenger, and the neighborhood where the trip took place.
Marvin the passenger is receiving a year's worth of free Uber rides, while Ara the driver will get an all-expense trip to the Uber city of his choice. In addition, Uber will make a donation to the Hackney Pirates, a charity serving the youth of the neighborhood where the billionth trip started.
Pity the billionth-and-one customer. So close.