Uber Coming to Honolulu?


Uber, the taxi-killing startup that’s already raised a total of $49.5 million and is reportedly¬†valued at $1 billion, is entering the Honolulu market.

UberThe San Francisco-based company has recently posted Honolulu openings for an Associate General Manager, who will run the market on the ground and build relationships with both drivers and partners, and a Community Manager, who responds to customers and creates a social media presence.

I recently spoke with an Uber representative who mentioned that the roles will report into the General Manager of Uber’s Seattle region, and that Uber hopes to launch in Hawaii before the end of 2013. For these roles, Uber seeks aggressive, non-stop, individuals who are willing to take on a startup salary (i.e. low) while working startup hours (i.e. long). Those lucky enough to secure these positions would be required to work hardest during Uber’s busiest times, such as weekend evenings, during events and concerts, and on Uber’s busiest day, New Year’s Eve. On the bright side, Uber is known for their splashy launch parties.

Uber’s local reps will also face numerous challenges from local taxi, car service, and shuttle companies, as they have in nearly all other markets they’ve entered. Additionally, existing transportation entities tend to take an attorney’s view of Uber’s challenge, and I’d expect to see Uber’s local team spending some time trying to convince State of Hawaii officials of the need to modernize and add transparency to this space.

It also remains to be seen if the Honolulu market–even with both residents and tourists–can support Uber’s pricey-yet-convenient towncar rides.

However, in the face of these challenges, Uber seems to be winning. They are truly a disruptive approach to a stale, non-innovative market, and they have the cash to build many markets and fight when needed.

Plus, just the presence of this high-profile startup and the experience gained (and hopefully shared) by their local employees can only help to enhance Hawaii’s startup ecosystem. Our entrepreneurs need more of this type of exposure, regardless of how limited it might be.

Stay tuned…