Uber CEO Travis Kalanick announced today that the company will now offer ridesharing as part of its service.
"Uber will aggressively roll out ridesharing on its existing platform in any market where the regulators have given tacit approval," he wrote. By "tacit approval" he means if a city does not shut down a competitor, such as Lyft and Sidecar, within 30 days of operation. He wrote:
In most cities across the country, regulators have chosen not to enforce against non-licensed transportation providers using ridesharing apps. This course of non-action resulted in massive regulatory ambiguity leading to one-sided competition which Uber has not engaged in to its own disadvantage. It is this ambiguity which we are looking to address with Uber’s new policy on ridesharing.
Kalanick wrote that the company will conduct "extensive and strict background checks" for any ridesharing providers it works with in any given area. Additionally, a $2 million insurance policy will be applicable to any ridesharing trip arranged through Uber.
"I don't look at this as a defensive move but rather a 'wow what an opportunity'," Kalanick said in a press conference.
Sidecar CEO Sunil Paul is not surprised that Uber is adjusting their business model, but points out that the two business models are not exactly the same.
“Uber is a digital dispatch service. We are a digital matching service. And the difference is as different as arranged marriage and Match.com,” he told the Wall Street Journal.
Uber, which launched in 2009, allows users to request a ride from via a mobile phone app. The company has $49 million in funding and is based in San Francisco.