Founders Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp compared it to a private jet service.
Uber, which was conceived in August 2008, is now nine years old and looks largely unrecognizable from the company’s original incarnation. Today, Uber is a global company with a growing on-demand food delivery business, a self-driving arm, and has gradually moved away from promoting its luxury service in some markets.
That stands in stark contrast to what the company — originally called UberCab — was created to be. In its first pitch deck, which co-founder and board member Garrett Camp published, Camp and Travis Kalanick compared UberCab to the “NetJets of car services.”
It was created to be a faster, luxury alternative to cabs. It would be members-only, use Mercedes sedans and would be geared toward “professionals in American cities.” It would be an invite-only, exclusive service.
That business model, which the founders predicted could bring in anywhere between $20 million to $1 billion a year in revenue, is not the Uber many consumers know today.
Though today the business and the revenue continue to grow, Uber’s overall profitability remains a question in some markets. In India, Uber is still fighting an expensive ground war against a strong competitor, Ola, and in the U.S. the company has started to cede ground to its rival Lyft. The company is laser-focused on cutting its losses, however, and recently merged its operations in Europe with competitor Yandex.
For one, the company has continued to expand the kinds of cars that can drive on its platform in order to get more drivers. Uber is no longer the chauffeur experience that UberCab was intended to be. The company’s “client base” — its riders — aren’t all professionals in American cities.
In fact, Uber has long pitched itself as an affordable transportation solution that works alongside public transportation in some cities.
Interestingly, however, the pitch deck does touch briefly on an integral part of Uber’s business model today: UberPool. Uber didn’t roll out its ride-sharing service UberPool until 2014 and yet it’s mentioned twice in this 2008 deck. Once, it’s mentioned as a use case for UberCab. Then it’s discussed as an environmental benefit that riders would be incentivized to do because of lower costs.
It also appears the company was expecting to own the cars in its fleet. Today, Uber’s model depends largely on having little overhead when it came to its service. Drivers aren’t employees and the company doesn’t own the cars. But the next steps listed in the deck include buying more cars, and buying used cars for cheaper was listed as a future optimization.
Here’s the full pitch deck: