Uber, the fast-growing on-demand car service that lets you request a ride at any time using SMS or the company’s iPhone and Android apps, has seen its fair share of struggles in providing a disruptive alternative to cab services. Uber has continued rolling on in spite of it, raising $32 million in December from Menlo Ventures, Jeff Bezos, and Goldman Sachs — among others. The startup has also continued pushing forward with its national (and international) service, recently launching or soft-launching in Chicago, Washington D.C., and Paris.
Now, it seems that Uber is ready to begin adding more cities to its existing services in Boston, New York, Paris, San Francisco, and Seattle, soft-launching (or entering its super secret “testing phase”) in the City of Angels just in time for the Grammys. Yes, according to Uber’s blog, the time has come to begin testing its car service in Los Angeles waters. Oh, and just in case you missed it, Uber just this week also began its testing/research phase in its first Canadian city, Toronto.
As to its soft LA launch, Uber said that its very first riders were “Papa Don and Mama Bonnie Kalanick,” the mother and father of Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick, who beat out well-known actor of stage and screen (and apparent avid surfer), Edward Norton. Norton had to settle for LA’s “Rider 1″ title. Of course, Uber soft-launches often come with “celebrities” or notables in tow, as Ben Mulroney was Canada’s “rider zero.” Smart marketing, to be sure.
The company also added that users are now able to request cars in Los Angeles (it is officially “on the ground”), but the service will remain in “Secret Phase,” (sorry guys) with limited availability until the service’s official launch, which is upcoming.
When it comes to a city of LA’s size, diversity, and there are bound to be obstacles, so Uber is “analyzing what we find and making adjustments until we get LA right,” according to its blog. That also came with a warning to early LA adopters: “Adventurous Riders Only”.
We’ll be updating as we learn more. Below is Uber’s pic of “Rider 1″: