A common question among out-of-town visitors at Founders Co-op is “how do you get a cab around here?” Seattle is a car-centric city with far-flung neighborhoods and few concentrated population centers that can support a New York-style cab culture. As a result, actually getting a cab to show up when you need it is pretty hit-and-miss.
So when Ryan Graves pinged me a few weeks ago to say he was bringing Uber to town and would we help spread the word, I told him I was happy to pitch in, if only to have a better answer to the question of “who should I call for a ride to the airport?”
If you don’t know about Uber, they’re a mobile-centric car hire network that has been racking up rave (even astonished) reviews from jaded technophiles in their current launch cities: San Francisco + New York. They raised a seed round from a stellar group of early-stage folks to prove the model, then loaded up with $11 million from VC heavyweight Benchmark Capital to roll out nationally.
John Cook has already announced the impending arrival of the service, but there’s still one thing standing between Seattle and Uber: one killer hire. Whenever they enter a new city the first thing the Uber team does is recruit a local GM to own every aspect of the local offering, from pricing, marketing and PR to hiring and managing the rest of the local team (usually including an operations and a customer support lead). According to Ryan, the city GM role is an ideal platform for anyone who’s on a path to building and running his or her own business and wants to add key skills as part of a high-performing team.
So what’s the downside to the job? Local cab companies and the bigger limo outfits will probably do what they can to make your life hard (including lobbying local politicians and transportation regulators to slow you down). And skeptics (John Cook included) will question whether Seattle’s down-home business culture is ready to embrace the “black car” attitude of bigger and flashier cities. But it wouldn’t be fun if it wasn’t kind of hard, right?
Sound like your kind of gig? Email ryan [at] uber [dot ] com