Update May 8: Uber confirmed the news today.
Uber may soon become a family business.
A source tells us that Uber will soon launch “Uber Family,” a new service that caters to passengers with children. Only the highest rated Uber drivers will be selected for the new program in New York.
Drivers selected for the Uber Family service will be supplied with a child car seat, and will be required to prep the car seat for passengers before traveling to pick them up.
As for Uber Family passengers, the source says they will pay a $10 premium in exchange for riding with the most trustworthy, well-liked drivers — and for not having to lug around a heavy car seat.
Uber did not respond to VentureBeat’s numerous requests for comment on the matter.
This potential launch serves as excellent preparation for Uber’s impending expansion plans. After surpassing 100 cities served this month, the car service startup is gearing up to launch in as many as 10 new cities, many of them relatively small U.S. cities. According to job listings obtained by VentureBeat, Uber is currently present in, or soon expanding into, the following cities:
- Las Vegas
- Kansas City, Mo.
- Austin, Texas
- St. Louis
- Boise, Idaho
- Richmond, Va.
- Boulder, Colo.
- Lexington, Ky.
- Hartford, Conn.
- Bloomington, Ind.
In Bloomington, for example, Uber is currently signing up drivers and plans to launch in the city “in the next month or so,” a local driver told VentureBeat.
These smaller expansions present a new challenge for Uber. The company appears to realize that it will need to consider pint-sized passengers in order take off in less-dense regions. Families fleeing cities like San Francisco, for example, can find affordable housing in cities like Richmond, Va.
Due to the very public nature of Uber’s recruiting process, it’s not difficult to see the company’s expansion efforts in near real-time. For example, Uber is advertising its Las Vegas launch in plain sight.
In fact, the entire ride-sharing industry operates in a very similar way, creating an incredibly transparent look at the aggressive competition between Uber, Lyft, Sidecar, and smaller regional players.
In cities where Uber appears to be absent — Miami, Salem, Montgomery, Tampa, and Buffalo — Lyft and even smaller companies like PriceRide are moving in. Perhaps we’ll see similar, family focused updates from Uber’s competitors as well.