13 Apr 2015

Uber Europe boss on rivalry with cabbies, tax and safety

Is your Uber cab cheap because the company cuts corners on tax and regulations? No, says the company’s Europe boss Jo Bertram. She says it’s cheap because it’s technologically efficient.

Uber’s Europe boss, Jo Bertram, talked to Krishnan Guru-Murthy about the secret to the company’s success: saying it’s cheap because it’s technologically efficient, while abiding by all relevant UK tax laws and regulations.

But how can a company that is only a few years old have made such a huge impact?

Uber was born in San Francisco in 2009, and has rapidly expanded across the globe, now available in 140 cities across 39 countries. It has become a popular alternative for people looking for a ride, and has lured in custom using discounted ride offers and easy-to-use technology.

Uber claims to be a tech company that takes a fee for putting passengers and drivers together. The model has been a phenomenal success – so much so that Silicon Valley has a new billionaire. At least on paper.

Uber Chief Executive Travis Kalanick is now head of a business that was valued in July 2014 at $18.2bn. Even if he only owned 5.5 per cent of Uber’s shares, he would still effectively be a billionaire. Not a bad money pot for a company founded a little over four years ago.

As Uber’s profits and success increases, so, it seems, does the anger of the taxi industry.

There was a high profile protest against Uber in June 2014, where a blockade of black cab drivers brought London to a standstill, while the International Transport Federation has supported the countries that have decided to ban the service.

But as the app expands into new cities, it appears that these battles are not going to end any time soon.