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Future Shot Talk with Wyatt Smith, Elevate @ Uber

Wyatt Smith, Head of Business Development, Elevate @ Uber

Professional services organizations have a bird’s eye view into how the broader marketplace is addressing the persistent need for innovation. Lynne Doughtie will discuss the challenges that large organizations face and how focusing on building a culture that fosters innovation can create a strategic advantage.

Elected to the position of Chairman and CEO of KPMG LLP in 2015, Doughtie leads more than 31,000 partners and professionals in the United States who provide tax, audit and advisory services to many of the world’s most iconic companies. She personally drives KPMG’s inclusive and purpose-driven culture, and has made innovation one of the firm’s key business priorities.

Key takeaways:

  • Learn why the right culture is critical to innovation.
  • Understand how to inspire and integrate innovation into your business priorities, and measure it appropriately.
  • Hear what business leaders say are critical challenges to innovation and how they can be met.
Show Transcript

Wyatt Smith:                    My name is Wyatt Smith. I lead the business development team for Elevate at Uber, and I'm really excited to talk to you a bit about innovation at Uber, how we're thinking about what the future looks like and the role we might play in helping make cities even better places to live, and then specifically a little bit about how in the not-too-distant future we might fly you to work every day.

Wyatt Smith:                    At Uber our mission is to focus on igniting opportunity for people. We do so with a global platform for mobility services. We started out with a pretty modest ambition, push a button and a car shows up to pick you up and drive you somewhere else. It's expanded a lot since that time. We're now very active in multiple markets across the world and focused on ways in which we can leverage technology to make mobility safe and reliable and increasingly affordable such that people in the future might be freed from the constraints of needing personal car ownership to be able to facilitate work, pleasure, and ultimately the way in which they go about living their lives.

Wyatt Smith:                    A little bit about that growth story. Uber was started again here in San Francisco not too long ago. 10 years ago next month we were just getting going. It took us about six years to get to our first 1 billion trip served. The next billion took six months. A year after that we doubled. A year after that we doubled again. And last June we eclipsed our 10 billionth trip on the platform, which enables us momentum as we think about other types of innovation. It might enable us to drive through partnership with leaders across the ecosystem.

Wyatt Smith:                    I wanted to share just a little bit about some of the core inflection points in the Uber story and how those shape what we do next. One of the first would be the introduction of the Pool product, which you saw flashed up a bit ago. A second would be the Eats product, which took a very commonly held idea around food delivery and then put it into a platform that had such good product market fit that it's enabled a growth rate of over $6 billion in gross bookings run rate achieved in less than three years of operations.

Wyatt Smith:                    JUMP is a product that many of you may have seen here in San Francisco. It's an electric bike and increasingly scooter concept, which enables people to take short trips on our platform at relatively very low cost. And it will link into our ground-based options in UberX products, in UberPool products, and in the future self-driving cars. We have partnerships with some of the world's leading automotive OEMs to unlock the future around self-driving and automation, and it creates a really important big bet for the future that leads to my team and what we do focused on the future of aerial mobility.

Wyatt Smith:                    What I have the chance to share with you in just the next five or six minutes it's a bit about what that vision is, how it makes sense, how it's not in the realm of science fiction, and it is one that through collaboration across an ecosystem we can make real for people across the world.

Wyatt Smith:                    At its core cities have a big challenge, and that challenge is that they increasingly are more and more congested, but there isn't more space to create. And because there is the challenge of indirectness in routing on the ground, combined with the volatility that exists through peak congestion at various rush times in the mornings and afternoons, we think about this problem that just as cities increase vertically to take advantage of increased bandwidth as they grew, so too can we add a new dimension to transportation to increase bandwidth for how people move.

Wyatt Smith:                    We think it's possible to be able to deploy this service in major cities across the world at massive time savings to riders. Up to 50% of your time back for price points that are not too different than ground options today. We'll share a little bit about how we think that that's possible.

Wyatt Smith:                    It's really because of two technologies. On one hand you have a rideshare platform, which enables the massive utilization of assets at rates that no one's ever been able to see before in an industry like aviation. And then secondly, you have these new vehicles that are powered by something called distributed electric propulsion, the technology that was patented or that was advanced at NASA over the course of the last 30 years and enables a battery-powered aircraft to create vertical lift like a helicopter and then fly on a fixed wing like an airplane. You combine those two things together, this really exciting, quiet, safe, reliable aircraft, and then a platform for distributing it such that you can reach customers and have massively high utilization, and all of a sudden you unlock a new technology.

Wyatt Smith:                    I want to share with you a 90 second video that is a bit of a vision for the future and then talk a little bit about how we're working through partnership across multiple parts of the value chain to be able to drive at the future being closer than you think.

Wyatt Smith:                    Thank you. Thank you. So that's what we get to work on which is pretty cool. Lynn was up here right before me and she said something really profound about the importance of partnership and the importance on innovation being driven through an ecosystem of collaboration. And that's what this is. At Uber we are lucky to be partnered with some of the world leaders in aviation. Many of these brands are very familiar to those of you in this room, and each of them are developing these technologies that in the future we will be able to deploy on our platform in ways that will help to transform cities as we know it.

Wyatt Smith:                    We're doing it through close collaboration on the policy dimension as well. These will be critical to be safe and reliable operations with regulatory authorities involved every step of the way in shaping the product. So you have a technology that is looking to get to market, in many cases on a 2023, 2024 timeframe. But officials in the public sector are actively shaping it right now. And that's essential to being successful at being able to drive the shift change.

Wyatt Smith:                    When we think about what are the trade-offs of time for money, we look across our platform and see people making different choices about how they value their time and how they pursue different options on the Uber platform today. We're able to think through how a new modality, flight, would play into those options, and then ask people through surveys, which we then can map across how they move through their cities today to develop a perspective about where infrastructure assets would be located to best service the takeoff and landing of these aircraft from rooftops of buildings or from other converted assets. You see here a map of how people move through Los Angeles over the course of the day where blue shows pick up spots and red shows concentration of trip termination spots.

Wyatt Smith:                    Based on those surveys, based on this visual about how people move through cities, we're able to map where we see concentrations of throughput in terms of how people move and then use that to be able to create a future vision of a multi nodal network that we'd be able to serve with this technology.

Wyatt Smith:                    It then becomes important to turn to real estate and say here's a big problem to solve. We need help solving it. So we've worked with some of the world's leading architectural firms to give this challenge, how can you fly more flights on a three acre square block of land, than fly out of LAX Airport every day, and they give us visuals about how you can start with something as simple as a retrofit of a parking garage and through time and through partnership and through effort and energy and intuition and ingenuity be able to build something quite different, bigger, things that become iconic to cities, how you think about using unused space above roads or waterways, to be able to chart the future of what cities might look like in the next 10, 20, 50 years into the future.

Wyatt Smith:                    I'll close on one of those visuals. This gives you a sense about what the future of mobility may look like as we integrate rail, self-driving vehicles, and drones, and aircraft to be able to create iconic brands and cities that enable mobility and create opportunity and help people live their best lives. Thank you very much for inviting me to join. Thanks to Michael and Great Places to Work. We wish you all lots of success at the conference today and in the future as we all make it closer than you think. Thank you very much.