Uber said on Wednesday that it completed its one billionth ride on Christmas Eve, marking a major milestone for the five-year-old ride hailing service and a symbol of how widely used it has become.
Marvin, the lucky passenger, took a £5 ride from London Fields, Hackney to Hoxton from Uber driver Ara and his blue Honda Insight Hybrid, Uber said without disclosing the last names of the people involved. To celebrate, Uber is giving Marvin a year of free rides (limited to £10,000, according to the Wall Street Journal), a free trip for Ara to any city where Uber operates, and an unspecified donation to Hackney Pirates, a local non-profit.
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For some context, it took the Internet 10 years to reach one billion users (late 2005). The global smartphone market hit the one billion user mark in 2012, roughly five years after the launch of the iPhone in 2007. In October 2012, Facebook surpassed one billion users, about eight years after its debut. Rides are not the same as users, of course, and Uber has not disclosed how many customers it has (one estimate: 8 million), let alone regular ones. But the growth is tangible: Yellow taxi cabs in New York City, a popular ride-hailing town by any measure, are responsible for 175 million rides per year, according to 2014 statistics.
Still, Uber still has a lot of work to do. Although it doubled then number of daily rides it handles from one million a year ago to two million, as the company told Fast Company, it’s still behind some of its competitors. Didi Kuaidi, which dominates the ride-hailing market in China, says its completes roughly seven million rides daily.
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But again, Uber will take what it can get—any big milestone is great when you’re trying to raise an additional $2 billion in funding from investors at a $62.5 billion valuation (or more), while waging a war in India, China, and other parts of the world.