Ever wondered whether you could be saving money by riding a taxi when Uber was surging? Or whether Lyft prices were cheaper at that moment? Wonder no longer, as a group of bright Harvard Business School students recently launched urbanhail.
urbanhail is a new startup, led by Hillary Maxwell and Rocky Lipsky, with a mission to give users side-by-side, real-time pricing – including surge rates – for different ride-sharing apps at any given moment. The team started work at the end of January 2016 and hired a contract developer to build the app. It went live April 19.
A few hours after launch, urbanhail got an e-mail from Uber employee Chris Messina:
Uber’s developer terms explicitly forbid using its data “in any manner that is competitive to Uber. We’re more than happy for you to continue developing your app, but ask that you remove any features that list Uber’s prices next to our competitors. Please let us know if you have any questions. Thanks!”
Taking a page directly from Uber’s book (which prides itself on ‘disrupting’ the taxi industry), the students contacted lawyers who cast doubt on the legality of Uber’s contract terms.
Currently, urbanhail is only available in Boston, but once the app has been tested, the co-founders said they’ll be launching the app in strategic series of cities.
What are your thoughts on urbanhail and Uber’s response?