MobileAppCon 2012: Uber CEO Travis Kalanick on the Science of Finding a Ride

“Before Uber I knew nothing about cities," said Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. "Now all I do is study them." At the MobileAppCon in San Francisco, Kalanick talked about his company's growth and the science behind his mobile app, which provides personal drivers at the click of a button.

“Before Uber I knew nothing about cities,” said Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. “Now all I do is study them.” At the MobileAppCon in San Francisco, Kalanick talked about his company’s growth and the science behind his mobile app, which provides personal drivers at the click of a button.

Uber uses complex algorithms to predict demand for rides and to facilitate pickups.

Kalanick said he and his team knew they were onto something when, right after launching, government officials sent them a cease-and-desist notice. Fortunately, Uber’s business falls outside the laws that regulate taxi and limo services in California.  “Regulation has restricted supply,” he said. “We’re changing that.”

The company has the ability to disrupt not just car services or mobile payments, said Kalanick, but also the process of matching supply with demand and adjusting the prices accordingly.  “We’re a tech company at the core — a math company — but we have an amazing app,” he explained.

In a space where so many other companies are creating location-based apps — like  ShopNear.me and Dunkin Donuts, to name a few—simply having them is no longer enough. Developers have to work harder to create a great user experience, earn positive ratings, and push their way to the top of the app stores.

Uber’s marketing tactics are social at the core. The company delivers treats for special occasions like roses on Valentine’s Day and plans ice cream socials around summer events. Uber even tested pedi-cabs and on-demand barbecue deliveries during SXSW.

The company is now growing at a rate of 26 percent per month.