What Uber’s Tipping Feature Teaches Us About Product Functionality

If you were to create a new startup that put the legacy taxi experience on a mobile app, most entrepreneurs would take the traditional functionality and implement it directly in version one. Expected features would include:

  • Requesting a car
  • Inputting the destination address
  • Watching the car’s location on a map
  • Paying the fee for mileage and time
  • Providing a tip based on service and experience
  • Bonus: rating the driver

Only now, after being in business for eight years and raising $8.8 billion (source), Uber has rolled out tipping — You can now tip your Uber driver in the app.

This isn’t a critique on whether or not tipping is the right thing to include. Rather, Uber waiting eight years to add a feature that most entrepreneurs view as standard to the product teaches us an important lesson: the offline experience shouldn’t be recreated verbatim in an app. Rather, prioritize the product functionality that delivers the best experience to the user, and that often is a subset of the traditional functionality combined with new functionality that is only possible due to new technology.

Entrepreneurs would do well to prioritize product functionality based on value to the user, not on legacy features.

What else? What are some more thoughts on Uber adding tipping after eight years and what that teaches us about product functionality?

3 thoughts on “What Uber’s Tipping Feature Teaches Us About Product Functionality

  1. Agreed.. but, it was also historically part of Uber’s value prop that they didn’t allow tipping. I remember the first time I ever heard about Uber, on a trip to San Fran several years ago, the person who told me about Uber said “and you don’t even have to tip.. in fact, there’s no tipping allowed.” It was part of the no stress transaction flow that made Uber feel different than a taxi or car service. I think the only reason why they are adding tipping now is because of increasing pressure from Lyft, who is going after Uber’s drivers, combined with some of Uber’s recent bad PR.

    So, perhaps you could say that not only should entrepreneurs prioritize functionality that delivers the best experience, but sometimes thinking differently about the offline experience can uncover opportunity to eliminate steps and make simplification part of the value prop.

  2. Uber receipts are difficult to handle as well, a pain when doing expenses, Lyft is a much better experience for receipts, tipping and not to mention they hold a much higher standard of ethics as a business which counts. As a father of two young women, I will never use Uber unless I do not have a Lyft option. Lyft also supports other great causes. Bad behavior and corporate ethics comes with a penalty, consumers eventually flee.

    Sincerely, Ben

    On Thu, Jul 6, 2017 at 9:42 PM, David Cummings on Startups wrote:

    > David Cummings posted: “If you were to create a new startup that put the > legacy taxi experience on a mobile app, most entrepreneurs would take the > traditional functionality and implement it directly in version one. > Expected features would include: Requesting a car Inputt” >

  3. David:

    I just want to thank you for what you do. I have an incredibly fast growing startup that has hit every challenge you discuss in the blog. Your posts focus me each day on a very important perspective of the business I need to pay attention to.

    On Thu, Jul 6, 2017 at 9:42 PM, David Cummings on Startups wrote:

    > David Cummings posted: “If you were to create a new startup that put the > legacy taxi experience on a mobile app, most entrepreneurs would take the > traditional functionality and implement it directly in version one. > Expected features would include: Requesting a car Inputt” >

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