Uber Catches A Ride With Facebook, Later This Week

The two companies announced today that testing has begun, and soon, users of Facebook Messenger will have the opportunity to order an Uber car without needing the Uber app.

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Facebook Messenger continues its growth

Facebook Messenger is building its user base at a phenomenal rate having just surpassed the 700 million-mark in monthly users. While that still lags well behind WhatsApps monthly users, which total over a billion, that shouldn’t bother Facebook too much as the company owns both properties.

Messenger began its life as just that, a message app that stands apart from the rest of the Facebook app for iOS and Android. However, this year has seen a number additions to messenger that is making it a bit of a “jack-of-all-trade.” Earlier this year, Facebook added its “Siri” to Messenger which the social media giant dubbed “M”.

“M” was immediately opened to developers and it’s grown quite quickly. “M” allows for peer-to-peer payments as well as voice/video calling and makes chatting with participating businesses quite easy. Now, for the growing number of Messenger users an Uber is just a couple of taps away.

Uber: How does it work?

Again, the partnership is still in its testing phase and its infancy. Presently, it’s being used by selected individuals in selected cities where Uber operates. The idea behind the partnership is for Uber to reach an audience it might not otherwise; for Facebook, well it’s usually about money isn’t it. While neither company mentioned specifics, it’s a pretty safe bet that Facebook will receive a portion of the “fare” for each ride ordered in Messenger.

In the past, and until the end of the week when it is rolled out nationally, if you were messaging with friends and agreed to meet up somewhere you would need to close Messenger, open Uber and order a ride. Now, if the address has been typed out in Messenger, you need only touch the address to order a ride after confirming that you do indeed want a ride.

Alternatively, you can hit the “More” option in Messenger and go to the transportation option. For those that use the feature frequently, a small car will begin to show up in your Messenger screen right about where the phone icon is.

To use the Uber feature, users will be able to link their existing Uber account or create a new one within Messenger.

Once a car has successfully been ordered you will receive a message letting you know it’s on it’s way in the thread that you used to order it. Surge pricing as well as your Uber’s ETA will also be sent via Messenger. For now, you’re not able to split a fare between multiple passengers, but both companies are working on it.

At launch, your first Uber booked through Messenger app will be free, up to a value of $20.

Facebook sounds pretty proud

“A lot of the plans that you are making with friends and family are happening through Messenger,” David Marcus, vice president for messaging products at Facebook, said in an interview. “When people come together, there is always a need to request transportation. It’s actually bringing a lot of utility to the platform.”

“There are a still a lot of people out there who haven’t used Uber yet, and this is a great way to get them. And it’s also part of our broad strategy to make Messenger really useful,” says Facebook product manager Seth Rosenberg.

Should Lyft worry?

Yes and no. Facebook and Lyft are the two most successful start-ups by valuation with Facebook valued at $300 billion and the privately-held Uber valued at $70 billion. While that should give pause, the two companies said nothing of an exclusive partnership and Facebook suggested that other transportation options were coming to Messenger without naming names.