Uber is a global mobility company that offers various services such as ride-hailing, food delivery, freight management, and more.
The company, which is headquartered in San Francisco, California, was founded in 2009 by Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp.
Enough has been said and written about its tumultuous history. Uber, despite its dozens of woes, has managed to become the world’s leading ride-hailing company. Many of its other business lines, such as Uber Eats, have been home runs as well.
In 2021, Uber generated $17.5 billion in annual revenue, up 57 percent from the year prior when the company recorded $11.5 billion. Losses decreased dramatically as well from $6.8 billion in 2020 to $496 million in 2021.
Over 50 percent of that revenue can be attributed to the United States and Canada, followed by the EMEA, APAC, and LATAM regions. Consequently, Uber has managed to establish a strong foothold across many key markets.
During its life as a private company, it managed to raise close to $25 billion, making it one of the highest-funded startups in history. Its IPO in May 2019 netted the company another $8.1 billion. Its market cap has decreased slightly since the IPO, in large part due to the effect of the coronavirus pandemic.
Uber, furthermore, has over 3.9 million drivers around the world. Its various services are available in 71 countries and close to 900 cities. Its iOS app alone has been reviewed more than 1.2 million times.
The methodology with which competitors of Uber are ranked is based on a variety of data points. Information such as the revenue generated, the number of employees, the number of available countries, the amount of drivers on the platform, app downloads, and anything else that’s relevant is being taken into account.
This analysis, in order to ensure comparability, only looks at the ride-hailing competitors of Uber. The competition in its Uber Eats and scooter business lines is therefore not being taken into account (although some of the below-listed companies also operate in those industries).
Additionally, companies that Uber (partially) owns are included as well. In March 2019, for example, it acquired Dubai-headquartered Careem for $3.1 billion but continues to compete against it across various countries in the Middle East.
Lastly, this analysis does not include indirect competitors of Uber. Examples would be public transportation, bus or train operators, scooter startups, and many other modes of transportation.
So, without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the top ten competitors as well as the competitive advantage of Uber.
Headquarters: San Francisco, California, United States Founder(s): John Zimmer, Logan Green, Matt Van Horn Year Founded: 2012
Uber, as previously stated, derives most of its revenue from its North American operations – a market where it heavily competes against Lyft.
In fact, Lyft and Uber account for 99 percent of all rides booked in the United States. While Uber continues to dominate with a market share of 70 percent, Lyft had been able to carve out a significant niche for itself and now accounts for 29 percent of all ride-hailing sales in the country.
Today, Lyft is available across the United States as well as Canada. It offers a variety of transportation solutions including car rentals, bikes, or scooters. It even works with local municipalities to allow customers to use metros and other modes of transportation.
The firm’s consistent expansion has allowed it to go public in March 2019, raising $2.3 billion in the process. Lyft had previously scored $4.9 billion from investors during its life as a private company. For the fiscal year 2021, it generated $3.2 billion in revenue.
Moreover, it employs close to 5,000 people. As far as its ride-hailing business is concerned, it currently works together with around two million drivers. Lyft’s iOS app has accrued over 11 million reviews alone.
2. DiDi Chuxing
Headquarters: Beijing, China Founder(s): Bo Zhang, Jean Liu, Rui Wu, Wei Cheng Year Founded: 2012
DiDi is not only Uber’s biggest competitor outside the United States but certainly the world’s second-biggest transportation company of its kind. In 2016, it purchased Uber’s China business for a whopping $35 billion. As part of the acquisition, Uber was also granted a 15 percent ownership stake in DiDi.
After raising over $22 billion (!) in venture funding, DiDi went public on the New York Stock Exchange in June 2021. During the IPO, which pegged DiDi’s valuation at $73 billion, the company managed to raise another $4.4 billion.
In recent times, though, its stock has been tumbling as a result of increased regulatory pressure from the Chinese government. The company now plans to delist from the NYSE and will likely relist in Hong Kong.
DiDi, despite those regulatory woes, remains one of the world’s leading ride-hailing companies. In 2021 alone, it generated $27.3 billion in revenue. Over 15 million drivers are working for the platform, which operates in 16 countries across the globe.
Headquarters: Kormangala, Karnataka, India Founder(s): Ankit Bhati, Bhavish Aggarwal Year Founded: 2010
Ola is the undisputed ride-hailing leader in India, one of the world’s biggest countries. Apart from driving people around, it also operates a variety of other business lines such as food and grocery delivery, a car marketplace, fleet management, and even financial services.
In 2021, Ola finally managed to reach profitability (on revenues of Rs 689.61 crore, or about $90 million) while having raised $5 billion over the course of its existence. The company, despite having to reduce staff due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic (including its CFO Swayam Saurabh and COO Gaurav Porwal), is set to go public in 2022.
Its ride-sharing service is available in 250+ cities across India, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK. Ola counts over 1.5 million drivers as partners. The iOS app alone has been rated more than 1.8 million times.
Headquarters: Tallinn, Estonia Founder(s): Markus Villig, Martin Villig, Oliver Leisalu Year Founded: 2013
The European leader in ride-sharing (and transportation as a whole) is Bolt, which was launched as Taxify. Apart from hailing cars, it offers a variety of other transportation solutions including food delivery, scooters, and dispatch software for taxi companies, among others.
One key and interesting differentiator of Bolt is its franchise model, which allows anyone to set up local operations for the company while utilizing its brand and technology. This has allowed Bolt to quickly expand into new territories. In fact, it operates in 45 countries as of today.
For the fiscal year 2020, the company, which is valued at €7.4 billion, generated €221.4 million in revenue (on losses of €44.9 million). Investors have, furthermore, poured a combined $2 billion into Bolt.
Bolt counts 100+ million users across all of its products, works together with more than 700,000 drivers, and employs over 3,000 people.
P.S.: feel free to check out the business model case study I did on Bolt.
Headquarters: Dubai, United Arab Emirates Founder(s): Abdulla Elyas, Magnus Olsson, Mudassir Sheikha, Wael Nafee Year Founded: 2012
Careem is the dominant ride-hailing company across the Middle East and, as previously stated, has actually been acquired by Uber for $3.1 billion back in March 2019. It has utilized that dominance to expand into other business lines, including food delivery, payments, and more.
The company, whose revenue Uber, unfortunately, doesn’t disclose as of today, had previously raised $771 million in venture funding. It has used portions of that funding to acquire a handful of companies, including Cyacle, Commut, or RoundMenu, itself.
And its total addressable market is nothing to scoff at either given the more than 600 million people living in the Middle East. Currently, Careem is available in 100+ cities across 14 countries. Its iOS app has been rated more than 125,000 times.
Headquarters: Madrid, Spain Founder(s): Adrian Merino, Francisco Montero, Juan De Antonio, Sam Lown, Vicente Pascual Year Founded: 2011
Another European powerhouse gone global is Cabify, which operates in Spain, Portugal, as well as in various countries in Latin America such as Colombia, Peru, Brazil, Panama, Ecuador, Argentina, and more.
The service was initially called Executive and, much like Uber in the early days, targeted high-end vehicles that were a little more expensive than traditional cabs. In 2013, the founding team introduced Cabify as a cheaper version, which made up the majority of its bookings and revenue just two years later.
Investors don’t mind what they see either. They have poured a combined $477 million into the company, which employs over 1,000 people. 230,000 drivers are part of the platform whose iOS app has been rated close to 250,000 times.
Headquarters: Jakarta, Indonesia Founder(s): Duc Nguyen, Kevin Aluwi, Michaelangelo Moran, Nadiem Makarim Year Founded: 2010
Gojek competes for ride-hailing supremacy not with Uber but Grab, the biggest platform of its kind in Southeast Asia. However, Uber is indirectly involved in this business war since it acquired a 27.5 percent stake in Grab after selling its Southeast Asian ride-hailing to the super app in March 2018.
As for Gojek, it has the strongest foothold in its home market of Indonesia but has since expanded into five more countries. In May 2021, Gojek merged with Indonesia’s biggest marketplace Tokopedia to create a regional superpower called GoTo.
Gojek itself has raised $5.3 billion in venture funding while the GoTo Group received another $1.1 billion during its April 2022 IPO, valuing the combined business at $32 billion. With regards to its ride-sharing business, it works together with more than two million driver-partners. Its superapp has been downloaded over 170 million times across the region.
8. FREE NOW
Headquarters: Hamburg, Germany Founder(s): Niclaus Mewes, Sven Külper Year Founded: 2009
FREE NOW began life as mytaxi. Its parent company, Intelligent Apps, was acquired by car manufacturer Daimler in 2014 after raising over $130 million in venture funding.
Four years later, in March 2018, Daimler merged its mobility services with BMW to create a 50/50 joint venture that encompasses five mobility services, namely Reach Now, Charge Now, Park Now, Free Now and Share Now.
In 2019, mytaxi was ultimately rebranded to FREE NOW. On top of that, BMW and Daimler committed to investing an additional $1.1 billion into those five ventures.
Today, FREE NOW is available in 16 countries and 170+ cities across Europe. It has over 1.3 million drivers on its platform whole employing around 435 people. Its iOS app has been reviewed more than 31,000 times, boasting an average rating of 4.8.
Headquarters: unknown Founder(s): Yandex Year Founded: 2011
Yango, which was initially launched as Yandex.Taxi, is a sub-division of Russia’s search engine giant Yandex. While Yandex.Taxi has been around since 2011, it only pivoted towards the Yango brand in October 2018.
Previously, Yandex and Uber had merged their ride-hailing businesses in Russia and multiple other countries (such as Armenia, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan). Yango itself, however, wasn’t part of that agreement and continues to operate in 17 countries and 600 cities across Africa and Europe.
Over 700,000 drivers are now part of the platform, which has facilitated 36 million rides since its launch. The Yango app boasts over 5.6k ratings in the App Store (with an average score of 4.8).
Headquarters: London, United Kingdom Founder(s): Dave Waiser, Roi More Year Founded: 2010
The last company on this list tackles the problem of ride-hailing from a different perspective, namely by focusing on business (B2B) customers. When Gett launched in 2010 as GetTaxi, it was directly competing with the likes of Uber.
Over time, its founders realized that this was a money-burning proposition and thus pivoted towards offering rides to employees of other businesses. Today, Gett works together with over a quarter of all Fortune 500 companies and counts firms such as Expedia as customers.
Additionally, it created a separate technology solution that integrates with over 2,000 different ground transportation providers into just one single platform. These include many companies that can be found on this list as well, including Careem, Lyft, and Ola.
Today, Gett is available in over 2,000 cities across the globe (either via its own app or through partnerships with other platforms). The company, which employs over 1,000 people, has raised $928 million in funding. Its iOS app has been reviewed more than 8,300 times.
The Competitive Advantage Of Uber
Uber possesses various competitive advantages, namely brand recognition, a diversified selection of businesses, and global availability.
As previously stated, Uber is operational in over 70 countries across the globe. As a result, a customer does not need to re-download the app when, for example, he or she travels to another country.
Moreover, Uber does not need to spend money on acquiring that customer, which vastly improves its cost base and thus margins.
Another advantage of being globally available is the brand power that it helps Uber to accrue. One of the distinct benefits of brand recognition is that it helps the company with regulators and city representatives who may want to ban Uber (such as Berlin).
Moreover, the drivers are likelier to join Uber than competing platforms (although some drive on multiple platforms), which increases supply in the marketplace. That, in turn, means that there are more qualified drivers available, thus increasing waiting times for customers.
Its global reach, as well as brand recognition, has, furthermore, allowed Uber to expand into various other business lines. Having multiple revenue streams makes the business more defensible.
For instance, its Uber Foods business almost carried the company during the coronavirus pandemic while ride-hailing almost came to a standstill.
In recent times, Uber has decided to expand its capabilities to fulfill its vision of becoming a transportation superapp.
In April 2022, it added buses, planes, trains, and rental cars to its selection of ride-hailing, boat, bike, and scooter options (to be tested in the U.K. first).
Naturally, Uber will receive a commission from any of these travel options. This consequently increases the number of options with which it can monetize customers. It also makes the app stickier since users are less incentivized to seek other platforms.