Uber began operation in Germany today, giving Berliners their first taste of the fast-growing private car-summoning service.
The service, which the company said is being conducted by "Secret Ubers," is in the testing phase, with more drivers being added each day, Jena Wuu, an international launcher, wrote in a company blog post today. The new service, which allows users to request rides via their smartphones, will apparently be limited to the capital, at least initially.
Interestingly, the service's first passenger was Alexander Ljung, cofounder of the steaming audio host SoundCloud, who was mysteriously "spotted" and given a ride from one SoundCloud officer to another in a Mercedes S-Class. Uber, which means "above" or "over" in German, will be rechristened "Super" in Germany to steer clear of confusion, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said in a tweet.
Uber, which entered the London market last July, plans further expansions in Stockholm and Melbourne.
The San Francisco-based startup has recently overcome roadblocks put up initially by local government agencies in the United States. After a series of conflicts with regulators in Washington, D.C., the company scored a victory last month when the city council unanimouslyfor "digital dispatch" transportation services. Regulators in New York City recently approved a one-year pilot program that allows New Yorkers to hail nearby street cabs.