Although it’s highly unlikely there were fanfare trumpeters, streamers, balloons, and a big cake inside Ara’s Uber vehicle when Marvin hopped in on Christmas Eve, their journey nevertheless marked Uber’s billionth ride, and the San Francisco-based company wants everyone to know about it.
“Marvin and Ara just made our day,” Uber wrote in a blog post Wednesday. “Their £5 ($7.40) London uberX ride together on Christmas Eve from London Fields, Hackney to Hoxton in Ara’s blue Honda Insight Hybrid was the billionth Uber trip.”
A billion rides in five-and-a-half years is certainly a notable achievement. The ride-sharing heavyweight has, in that time, expanded rapidly to more than 360 cities across 68 countries, diversified into other areas, attracted billions of dollars in funding, battled aggressively to stay ahead of rivals like Lyft, and, as we learned only yesterday, driven others into the dust. It’s also courted more than its fair share of controversy – and continues to do so – as it goes on pushing its way into new markets around the world.
But back to the celebrations. Uber said that as it’s the holiday season (amazing luck that the ride happened on Christmas Eve, eh….), it’s decided to present Marvin with a whole year’s worth of free rides, while driver Ara will get a free vacation to an Uber city of his choice.
And it doesn’t stop there. Uber said it wants to give something back to the community where this landmark journey took place, so it’s making a donation to local charity Hackney Pirates, which works to help struggling schoolkids build their literacy skills and confidence.
So Uber ends the year on a high, and at its current rate of expansion we can expect the two billionth ride to come around well before next Christmas Eve.