Most startups would believe that have “made it” when they become a platform. That’s usually when other startups depend on their underlying technology as an infrastructure and include it in their product. Given that most startups are now developing API’s so other startups can leverage this, it is not unusual to see many new startups developing on another startups’ technology.
In the last few months that’s the pattern I am seeing with Uber. Emirates already offers its business and first class fliers the pickup and drop off service from their home or office to the airport and now there’s a company that is partnering with other airlines to provide an app that users Uber as the car service for the airline’s top customers.
I read yesterday about an Uber based escort service as well.
There are many other apps that have been in the works to create a service using Uber. Since they have opened their API, many use cases have emerged.
Open Table has been considering integrating its app with Uber so before and after your table reservation you can book an Uber to pick you and drop you back.
Same for Museum apps – they are looking to offer a full service to provide an ability to use Uber to give the patron a seamless experience.
There are many bar apps that also have integrated with Uber. After a drink or two, or if you checkin to a bar at a given time (using Swarm or Four Square for example), you will be automatically prompted to use an Uber to head back.
In a few cases, I have heard of Ticketmaster and other ticketing apps integrating with Uber for event based taxi rides.
There are many other use cases as well, but all this means more data for Uber.
Where are people taking rides to and from, when are they going, and why (which can be inferred in many, but not all cases).
To become a platform though, you first need a reliable service. Then the ability to evangelize the platform to developers, which means someone that can be at hackathons, build initial prototypes, troubleshoot for other developers and also help them find a way to monetize.
That’s the path Uber is going towards.
I had a chance to meet a team of developers who are building a bachelorette party app last week. The 3 cofounders (all women) were building an experience platform for the entire party. From inviting the friends of the bride to selecting the venue and onwards, they can help plan the entire party.
A key part of their platform is to bring all the “friends of the bride” together to the same venue. That’s where they are hoping to use the Uber API to integrate into their app.
The incentives offered by Uber are pretty good. They claimed they had met with the Uber team and they were told they could get 10% to 12% of the fare as a commission. Which I thought was pretty high, but it makes sense to Uber only if it believes the folks coming to the party wont already take an Uber to the party.
Welcome to Uber as a platform.