How does Uber Make Money

How does Uber Make Money or How does Uber Work or What is Uber Business Model is the question many startup enthusiasts have after Uber kept on disrupting the market with sky high valuations, scams, rude drivers, mammoth amounts of VC investments and so on… For people with definitive knowledge of the StartUp Scene in the Silicon Valley or other parts of the world this article will still make sense because there are 100’s of revenue lines that Uber has and especially when you are a noob on the Business Model of Companies’ front these revenue lines will blow your mind off.

How does Uber Make Money
How does Uber Make Money

About Uber, Facts, Figures, Founders & Funding

Uber Business Model
Uber Business Model

Before we move on to the Business Model of Uber or on How does Uber make money, here are couple of things you should know about Uber:

Uber Technologies Inc. is the name of the company under which Uber App operates.  It’s headquartered in San Francisco.  Uber is essentially an “On-Demand” Taxi Hailing Service using which people with smartphones to book a trip in a 3rd party private owned vehicle driven by owners or helps of owners of cars.  As of Last Valuation the company was operating in 58 countries and 300 cities.

Uber Funding : Appx 10 Billion USD. (as of December 2015).

Uber Founders : Founded in 2009 by Travis Kalanick & Garrett Camp (founder of StumbleUpon).

Uber Valuation : Valuation of Uber as in Dec’ 2015: 68 Billion USD (Larger than GM, Ford, Honda – Uber took five and a half years to leapfrog the valuation of 107 years old GM).

How Does Uber Make Money

How does Uber Make Money has been hogging startup enthusiasts for quite sometime now because many startup founders think it is cool to call themselves “Uber of X”. Uber makes money in a lot of ways, following are the cheasiest ones (couple of them that I read somewhere and have no proof about or the ones I think it does), read at your own risk 🙂 !

How Uber Makes Money : Revenue Lines

  1. Trip Commissions (duh!)
  2. Keeping money received by customer in bank deposits for a period of 7-10 days (rolling interest on treasury amount is huge for Uber)
  3. Listing Fee (Basically for the driver to work with them)
  4. Fleet on Lease (I heard that they might buy couple of 1000’s of cars and just lease it out to the driver for a weekly / daily fee)
  5. Get the Uber Drivers cars on loans (basically they act as a DSA for Banks and Lending Companies and earn commission in between)
  6. Trip Cancellation Fees
  7. UberEATS (Food delivery via Uber Drivers)
  8. UberTRUCKING (Uber for Trucking)

Business Model of Uber

Before we move on to how does Uber make Money we should first understand the business model of Uber that it thrives upon.

How does Uber Work: Have you ever faced the frustration of looking for a Cab when you don’t have your traditional travel option readily available or you are travelling in a Cab when your Car Broke down and at the end of the trip the driver says I don’t have change 🙂 Bummer isn’t it?  Uber removes all hassles from this cumbersome experience and connects with the user right from choosing the preferred car type in their budget, to sending the driver right to your door step, ensuring a smooth ride by the verified driver to taking care of payments by totally avoiding cash and no change tactics of traditional drivers.

How Uber Works (Technically): Open Uber > It auto detects your Location via GPS > Shows Nearby Cars of Various Categories (Black, X, Go etc) > Tap on a Category of Choice > Select Request Uber X/Go/Black etc > Request via Uber’s Servers hits the Driver’s Cell Phone > If driver accepts the ride, you get confirmation message on screen > Driver details sent to you on the app > Click to call with Driver and Co-ordinate > Complete the Ride > Payment Debited from your account

Uber Business Model

Business and Revenue Model of Uber: The most basic outline of Uber business Model will be as simple as “X% Commission from the total Fare of the Trip” X depends on the age and maturity of the market e.g. Ranges from 5% – 20% depending on the age of the market i.e. when was the service launched or when did the driver join the team etc.  Here is the Exact Break-Up of the Total Revenue Lines the company Uses.

Please Note: There are 2 Apps being used simultaneously while performing the business right at Uber – One is used by the Cab Booking Consumer and the second is used by the Request Completing Driver called User App and Driver App Hereon.

You May also be Interested in: How does Ola Make Money

How does Uber Make Money

How does Uber Make Money from Passenger Trips

Consumers use Uber’s User App to book chauffeur driven cabs because either they don’t own a car or they do not want to use their own car for any reason.   When ever consumers book a cab the message pops up at the nearest possible driver using the Driver App via Uber’s Algorithm and if the driver rejects the request, it is instantaneously passed on to the next driver in the queue.  Which so ever driver accepts the request is presented with the location and details of the customer to be picked up.  Once the driver reaches the destination (after dropping off the customer) he has to mandatorily click on “End Trip” flashing on his device’s screen. Once this is done, the customers account / credit card / wallet is charged with the entire trip fare.

The Trip fare is a combination of:

  • Travel Time (In Minutes) : Uber charges Local Currency per Minute of Travel after an initial free X minutes (varries as per the country and type of cab)
  • Distance Cost : Uber charges Local Currency Per KM of Travel after an initial fixed fare Distance (varies as per the country and type of cab)
  • Waiting Time : In case you made the driver wait additional waiting time charges levied
  • Taxes as applicable in that country
  • Recently (June 2017) Uber has started charging what it internally calls “Appetite Fee” – this is what uber thinks the customer can pay depending on his previous data with Uber (So the same trip for point A to point B, at the same time, via the same route, will cost person X and Y different because of their paying propensity)

The Trip fare once deducted is credited into the driver’s account under the head of the trip number given to you in your bill copy.

Uber deducts the Taxes charged to consumer first, then its commission percentage, then applicable income tax on the balance amount and remits the rest of the amount to the drivers bank account at regular intervals (3-7 Days ).

  • Assuming Travel Cost Per Minute : 5 INR (Travel time 40 mins)
  • Assuming Travel Cost Per KM : 15 INR
  • Assuming Service Tax @ 14.5% (its 15% now, god knows how many more time I will have to edit this 😀 )
  • Assuming Total Travel : 30 KM, (First 5 KM @ 100 INR)
  • Total Fare : 100+ 40*5 (Assumption 1) + 25*15 (Assumption 4 & 2) = 100+200+375 + ST = 675 * 1.145 = 773 INR
  • Uber’s Cut – 675 * 20% = 135 INR + 98 (ST – Payable to Govt)
  • Driver’s Cut – 773-135-98 = 540 INR Less 10% TDS (As per Indian Govt Laws) = 486 INR

This is the primary revenue line and the basic answer to How does Uber Make Money.

How Uber Makes Money from Mode of Travel Trips

Uber has lot of Travel Options as follows:

  • Cars
  • Helicopters
  • Jets
  • Pooled Cars
  • Bikes
  • Many more to be Added soon

[Edit: Uber Added Bike Taxis as well]

[Edit: Uber Added Shared Taxis as well]

[Edit: Uber Added Trucks & UberEATS as well]

How does Uber make Money from Car Type Trips

Each Country Uber defines the type of Cars that it will call its Sedans, Compact Cars, SUVs etc.  The Per KM Waiting time and Per KM charge along with initial charge varies with the type of car chosen at the time of booking.

How does Uber Make Money from Passenger Type Trips

In some countries Uber gives options like Uber for Kids, Uber for Senior People, Uber for Single Ladies travelling late at Night etc at varying prices whenever required.

How does Uber Make Money from “Surge Pricing” Trips

How Uber makes Money
How Uber makes Money

Wait:

Here is an interesting twist to How does Uber Make Money: 

This is the second most contributing revenue line for Uber and a hidden part of the Uber business model.

How does Surge Pricing Works

Whenever the demand of cabs nearby a customer(s) outruns that of the supply or the number of cabs nearby the prices shoot up according to a predefined algorithm for the same at the backend.  For e.g. If 100 People simultaneously trying to book a cab out of available 10 cabs nearby them at the same location the price would shoot up in multiple of base prices.  The multiple can be anything from above 1 to 4-5 etc.  In this method the driver gets the standard rate and Uber makes the differential.

From the e.g. in 1st Revenue Line the total fare comes to 773 INR, assuming a surge pricing factor of 2 – the total debit to the customer would be 773 * 2 = 1546 and the driver would make the same amount as before the government would make twice the amount of service tax and Uber would make = 1546 – 540 – 196 (ST) = 810 INR

[Edit to How does Uber Make Money from Surge Pricing : Some Drivers have confirmed that in “some unusual trips” they make higher amounts that they would actually make on the same trip, giving a hint that during surge pricing drivers also make higher amounts]

Hope you now have a decent understanding of the Uber business model and you are now well adept at answering How does Uber Make Money.  Leave your comments in the below section to ask more questions around it, I will try to answer them as and when I have the answers to the same.  Also in case you would want a detailed description talk to me using the contact tab.

Disclaimer: The understanding of the model of How does Uber Make Money is of the Author’s himself, neither the company or its affiliates have confirmed the same to the author and the descriptions, stats, facts and figures are either obtained through secondary web research or interrogation of the users / drivers or other resources on the web.  Please use your own discretion to use this info when required and by continuing to read you agree to indemnify the author from all liability arising out of using this info on your own.

Unicorn Economy
Unicorn Economy is your answer to all startup related queries with respect to business strategy, business model analysis and consulting. One stop stop for business plan and financial model development.

31 Comments

  1. This blew the shit out of my brain.. Have never seen a more detailed article on the same. And say your other menu categories as well. Seems interesting and waiting for other startups to be added as well. Keep up the good work man.

  2. Howdy! This article couldn’t be written any better!

    Going through this post reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He always kept talking about this. I am going to send this article to him.
    Pretty sure he’ll have a good read. I appreciate you for
    sharing!

  3. Hey I understand this is a basic model but I have heard from uber/ ola drivers that there is a commission provided by ola/uber to the drivers on complition of certain trips for a certain time frame of the day. And this is the “carrot” which motivates drivers to operate cabs even there unwilling ness to do so. And this is a handsome amount what drivers get in the end of the day. I have had words with many uber/ola drivers, and according to them they enjoy 3-4k commission after completing 9-11 trips a day. If we calculate as an average ride/trip it is 200-250 inr in India for uber/ola. But still ola/ uber gives much more money as a commission compare to total revenue from the trips a day.
    Then how do they make money.
    They are distributing carores of rupees a day to drivers. From where they are earning now.
    Are they converting black money to white. Or promotional time period still continues. Or first they want us make habituate of hiring taxi? Then they will show the real picture?
    Anybody have answer?

    1. Hi Varun

      The carrot that you are talking about is to avoid the driver getting into Ola or other taxi services.
      This will continue untill one of the players gives up because of the cash burn.(Just like it happened in China where Uber Gave Up and Sold their entire China Business to Didi Kuadi against a 20% stake in the Chinese Taxi Service) This is how global companies operate and expand. They kill smaller and less wealthy companies with their cash power and ultimately buy them out and gain monopoly over the entire region. Hope this helps. And the black money to white – No Comments 🙂

      1. one Simple doubt.

        OLA pays some money to driver on completion of trips each day.
        Whenever i book a cab, the amount of bill that we receive i will pay directly to driver of which 0 amount goes to OLA.

        Then where is amount being received by OLA?

        1. That money will be adjusted out of the commission or incentive that the driver earns to complete designated number of trips each day. The nominal amount in namesake cities is gurantee of 4000 inr per day assured business. So Ola will adjust commission out of the cash bill from the incentive.

  4. I live in Indonesia where Uber is now booming lately.
    I ever asked the driver several times and they said that Uber didn’t take any percentage of the payment. If the surge pricing is on, the driver earns big profit and Uber still do not take any percentage at all.
    I also often get free rides from Uber by recommending Uber to my friends.
    I also have ever got Uber voucher because complaining something about the driver.
    Does Uber still promote in Indonesia? or how?
    This really blows my mind.
    Thank you.

  5. Got to know about this website from GOOGLE.
    Nicely explain
    I wasn’t aware about revenue plan of Uber
    Keep up the good work.

    Thanks for your article man

  6. This post is really interesting. I have bookmarked it.
    Do you allow guest post on your site ? I can provide high quality articles for
    you. Let me know.

  7. Great article! Was wondering how uber handles cash payment. In Nigeria, there is an option for customer to pay cash. How do they ensure remittance. Also I’ve read about ad revenues embedded in apps? Is this an additional revenue source for Uber.

  8. Uber is still competing with Ola in various parts of India. So, the drivers still receive incentives on each ride daily. Although, as time has passed, the incentives have become lower. Soon, Uber might start earning from drivers’ commision.

    1. Tanvi

      That day when this happens, Ride fares will soar to the sky and India will stop using Ola and Uber altogether… India is a price sensitive market and will stay that way for the next decade… If uber is still around post that, possibly they will make money… 🙂

  9. But Uber paid higher amount to driver as compared to their collection. e.g. for if drivers collection say INR1000 they paid INR 2100. what is rational behind the paying more to driver ? by this way they are incurring loss.

  10. kudos,
    the article is deeply informative and enlightening. i was always curious how the business model works. thanks for the time and effort in sharing. One question I wish you could answer : When a driver connected with a cab aggregator is unduly harassed by police or transport authorities, does the company give an assurance to vouch for his cause.

  11. I have heard that Uber and other App based Cab Operators earn money from internet service providers for the data used by their customers and as well as they earn money from their Application download and Update from download sites. Please let us know the fact.

  12. Very good illustration. I was studying the same in various websites and was least convinced with the explanation and the illustration. This article is precisely what I wanted to know. Thank you.

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