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What you need to know about Uber

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Uber is an ideal topic for an episode of What's Tech. It's a ubiquitous piece of technology that millions of people use across the planet. But even intelligent veteran tech executives throw around the name without really knowing what it represents. We've heard about "the Uber for tailors," "the Uber for trucking," and "the Uber for alcohol," along with countless other wannabes.

It's no secret that these executives hope a comparison to the ride-hailing service with a rumored $50 billion valuation will siphon some of that magic. But Uber — at least to those of us who don't have shares in the company — is more than its valuation. It's a helpful service, a preview of the future of travel, an ongoing example of Silicon Valley madness.

Here are just three of my favorite stories about the company: "Uber’s 5th birthday party was pure theater, and here’s our review," "This is Uber's playbook for sabotaging Lyft," and "Uber executive casually threatens journalist with smear campaign."

Sometimes it seems all Uber lacks is a white cat and secret lair. And despite all of this, I now and then use the service. What is it about Uber that has me coming back, even while knowing about the company's less savory method? I invited The Verge's Uber expert Casey Newton to explain.

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