Startup Uber is offering two free taxi rides in Silicon Valley to residents and workers in an attempt to drum up hype for its new UberX service.
Uber allows consumers to book an "on-demand private driver" through an application on their mobile device. The car rental service has caused controversy, having been sued last year in San Francisco for allegedly operating a transportation company outside of state and local regulatory frameworks -- which means the service is able to undercut traditional taxi drivers in areas including San Francisco and New York city. In addition, a new court case claims that Uber has been withholding driver tips.
Controversy and lawsuits aside, the firm has created the tactical promotion following the launch of the lower-priced UberX service. UberX, with some fares cheaper than riding public transport, uses hybrid and mid-range cars capable of seating up to four people rather than the elite models used for the standard service.
The two free rides must begin or end in Silicon Valley, and are valued at up to $30 each, running from November 25 to December 1, Uber has also teamed up with local firms for free products and discounted services -- ranging from pizza and cupcakes to bicycle rides.
While the promotion is likely to raise awareness and potentially expand the firm's clientele, the company warns that demand is likely to be high -- and so Uber may garner additional revenue from customers persuaded to try out the higher-priced alternatives. In addition, by focusing on the Silicon Valley area and offering freebies, the startup may be able to secure valuable business clients.