TiffTaff Where fashion and technology meet


Uber, Are You Tracking That? <3

Tickle me pink

I'm trying to put together date-night outfits every Friday. Here's this week's fabulous idea: a pink blazer over a dainty, white mini dress.

I actually can't take credit for it; my friend Cemile found it and I totally fell in love with it. Hopefully we'll be meeting our dates in different parts of the city. I'd hate to go head to head with her in a San Francisco version of "Who Wore It Best?" (She's pretty hot.) For more fashion ideas and all things SF, check out Cemile's fun blog: SFWeekends.

Okay, that was your fashion fix. Now, here's my technology musing.

I used Uber tonight to meet my boyfriend downtown for our weekly date.

Uber allows you to request a car from any mobile phone—text message, iPhone and Android apps.

Uber is a mobile car service app that's pretty much awesome. Sometimes a girl just doesn't want to hail a cab. Or walk eight city blocks in (ridiculously) high heels.

Seriously, it's one of the apps I use most. Here's how it works:

  1. Request a ride from anywhere at any time
    First, tell Uber where you want to be picked up. Text an address to UBR-CAB (827-222) or set your pickup location on the map of their iPhone and Android apps.
  2. Ride in style
    Uber dispatches the nearest driver to pick you up. You'll also receive a text with the estimated arrival time. When the car arrives, you'll get another text. Get in the car, tell the driver your destination and you'll be on your way.
  3. Leave the cash at home
    After the ride, Uber will automatically charge the credit card you have on file. There's no need to hand your driver any payment, and the tip is included.

Tonight I had a very nice driver—I'll call him "Bob."

Bob and I started chatting about the usual things you chat about with your driver: the weather; how busy his night was; favorite secret spots in the city. Then we started talking about Uber.

I was curious and asked him if he'd received any stock for partnering with Uber. (Facebook just filed for IPO this week and all the SF Bay Area start-up geeks like me have stars in our eyes.)

That led to a discussion on Zynga and its crazy IPO a couple months ago. Bob said something I hear a lot: "I just don't understand how a social gaming company can be worth so much."

It's a rampant misconception. See, Zynga may be considered a game studio, but it's really an analytics powerhouse. When you play Farmville, every time you buy a cow or plant a new crop, Zynga is tracking it. In fact, Zynga has teams of data scientists who analyze YOUR. EVERY. MOVE.

Then, they take this data and they tweak and fine-tune their games so you (and others like you) buy more cows and plant more crops. Zynga works tirelessly to engage you, and encourage you to spend real money inside their games. That's how they make money: Their games may be free to play, but millions of people spend millions of dollars buying all those virtual goods inside the games.

Bob was shocked. He couldn't believe it. "Are you sure?" he asked.

"I'm pretty sure," I replied. "I work at a social and mobile analytics company. It's what we do."

That got me thinking about how Uber might be using its data. After all, it knows where I live, where I work, where I get picked up, where I go, and how often. While I am in a GPS-equipped Uber vehicle, it can even track me in real time.

There goes Cat. She just passed the Ferry Building. Oh, now she's in the Broadway Tunnel. Wait, she just stopped at Mel's Diner on Van Ness.

Uber knows what I've done in the past; will it know what I will do in the future? Sound crazy? Not according to data scientists (like the ones at Zynga).

In Why Analytics Is a Game Changer, in simple terms "analytics means using quantitative methods to derive insights from data, and then drawing on those insights... [which leads to] predictive analytics [which] is emerging as a game-changer. Instead of looking backward to analyze 'What happened?,' predictive analytics help executives answer 'What's next?" and "What should we do about it?'"

I want to be very clear: I do not know if Uber collects user data. And, if it does, I have no idea what the company does with it. All I am saying is that—in this data-driven age—I'm becoming more aware of what's going on behind the scenes. The way businesses store, query and interpret data is changing how we work and live.

Data is the reason I placed those darn DVF ballet flats in my shopping cart. It's making us buy baskets of fake vegetables in a fake Facebook world. It can improve the real world, too. McKinsey says U.S. health care officials could create $300 billion in value annually by effectively using big-data analytics.

At this point, I'd arrived at my destination. I bid Bob a good night and walked in to meet my boyfriend for date night.

I couldn't help it, and right away started sputtering about Uber and Zynga and data science and designer shoes. And, while he was impressed with my cute outfit, my sweet boyfriend found my enthusiastic big-data musings even sexier.




If you like the outfit I featured today, you can create your own. Here's a pink blazer from Frenchi and white dress from Wildfox. (I chose an edgier dress to offset the girlie pink—I usually don't wear pink.)

Click on the images to shop.
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Comments (3) Trackbacks (0)
  1. whoa! that’s crazy. I use uber all the time.

  2. Its like you read my thoughts! You seem to grasp a lot approximately this, like you wrote the e-book in it or something. I think that you just could do with a few p.c. to power the message home a bit, however instead of that, that is great blog. A great read. I will definitely be back.

  3. Real good info can be found on weblog.

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