When Uber started up New York City in 2011, I wrote a short piece comparing it with another seemingly innovative transportation startup called Weeels. Uber seemed like a clever way for people to hire expensive black cars, while Weeels had an app offering to match you with other riders headed in the same direction, splitting the cost of a cab. I presciently declared Weeels the more ambitious of the two startups—with one important caveat about its lack of enough users to make the carpooling service functional.
In retrospect, of course, it looks like I undersold Uber’s prospects. The company has spent the intervening years expanding across the globe, fighting a multifront war against local governments, coming up with numerous ways to push its prices down, and basically becoming the most ambitious technology company this side of Google (which is now a major investor). Three-and-a-half years later, Uber even says it will begin experimenting with its own Weeels-like program.