Free marketing: Taxi driver protests in Europe actually increased Uber app downloads

Photo via Uber

Photo via Uber

Maybe protesting wasn’t such a great idea for taxi drivers in Europe.

More than 30,000 taxi drivers caused quite the commotion — and quite a bit of traffic — after they stopped offering service on Wednesday to voice their displeasure with Uber and current taxi regulations in cities like London, Madrid and Paris.

The move may have backfired, though, and actually turned into free marketing for Uber — lots of it. App tracking platform AppFigures crunched some App Store numbers for Uber’s iOS app, and found that all the attention resulted in a big download spike.

This graph shows how the Uber app quickly moved up the App Store rankings just before and during the protests on Wednesday:

uberprotest1

Uber said it saw an 850 percent spike in new customer sign-ups on Wednesday compared to the week prior. The company also on Wednesday launched UberTAXI in London, a service that will bring Uber’s platform to London’s Black Taxis — its fourth offering in the city.

European taxi drivers are fed up not only with Uber, but moreover the existing transportation regulations in place that require strict pricing and licensing requirements, while those from Uber aren’t subject to similar laws.

The protests are nothing new for Uber, which has been issued a cease-and-desist order in Virginia and is dealing with other issues in cities worldwide.

uberxBut that doesn’t appear to be slowing down the San Francisco-based startup, which recently raised a whopping $1.2 billion round at a $17 billion valuation — the most-ever for a private tech company. The four-year-old company is now operating in in 128 cities in 37 countries.

Meanwhile in Seattle, negotiations are ongoing between taxi industry stakeholders, those from Lyft and Uber, in addition to City officials. Mayor Ed Murray brought together the groups in order to reach a new regulatory agreement that will allow Uber and Lyft to operate in Seattle legally.

Sources tell us that an agreement is “close,” but there appear to be a few kinks to be worked out. Murray had previously said that if no deal was reached by Monday, he’d issue a cease-and-desist to Uber, Lyft and Sidecar. It’s Thursday, and that has not happened yet.

  • elbowman

    I guess if you’re really young you don’t see the need for laws/regulations. Despite the fact the reason the laws/regulations are in place is because of problems society has encountered in the past. Drivers have been robbed. Passengers have been ripped off. People have been hurt in unsafe vehicles driven by unlicensed/unskilled drivers. People have been hurt only to find there’s no insurance coverage to fall back on.

    All these things have happened before, and all these expensive rules have been put in place to protect everyone involved.

    When a company comes into this regulated industry, and tries to claim the rules don’t apply to them, they are able to undercut the market. The only problem is this company is no different than those already competing and following the rules. That’s what has people up in arms.

    Play by the rules. Compete on a level playing field. Everyone wins.