A decade after it first hit the streets of San Francisco, Uber is expected to roar onto public markets on Friday in what will be one of the biggest floats in US history.
The ride-hailing app is expected to hit a valuation of more than $90bn and will price its float on Thursday evening, before opening the shares up to buyers.
Uber's listing brings to an end the company's ten-year spell as a private company, a run which has seen it grow from a punchy start-up to the biggest name in ride-hailing with operations in 600 cities, transforming the way that millions travel.
Here is everything you need to know about Uber's path to IPO and what happens now.
Rides on demand
Uber was founded in 2009 by computer engineer Garrett Camp and entrepreneur Travis Kalanick. As the story goes, Camp had spent $800 on a taxi on New Year's Eve, and wanted to find a way to cut the cost of getting a lift. Uber secured its first significant financing in 2011, with $11m in venture funding from Benchmark Capital and Sequoia.
The start-up initially focused on luxury black car rides, but by 2012 it had launched UberX, a cheaper alternative that let ordinary drivers offer on-demand rides.
In a step change from paying for taxis with cash or booking in advance, Uber let users pay through its app. The app allows users to hail taxis from their smartphone, who then meet them for a pick up and easily speed them on their way. It also let thousands of ordinary people quickly download its app and set up as independent drivers.
The idea spread like wildfire. Uber launched in London in 2012 before expanding its app to Asia, Africa and South America. In 2013, it raised hundreds of millions of pounds from investors including Google Ventures. In 2014 it made a landmark launch in Beijing, spreading its reach to China.
The backlash and #deleteUber
And Uber began to be questioned over its company culture. At a dinner with journalists, a senior Uber director made a suggestion that the company should spend millions performing opposition research to undermine journalists who criticised Uber, BuzzFeed reported in 2014. The executive later apologised for the remarks and Uber denied ever having conducted any such research.
Uber also faced safety concerns following the rape of a passenger in India in 2014. The company later added a panic button to its app to "improve our safety technologies". In the UK, legal challenges over whether Uber's drivers should be classified as workers and not as freelancers began to pick up steam. Last year, Uber appealed the case to Supreme Court.
The company was forced to start retrenching from markets where new rivals had emerged. It reportedly lost $2bn trying to beat Chinese rival Didi, before choosing to merge its operations with the local rival.
In January 2017, Uber's annus horribilis truly began. A social media campaign #deleteuber took off after Uber raised prices around airports following an executive order from President Trump to block immigrants from Muslim countries.
The next month, an Uber engineer called Susan Fowler published a blog post that would ultimately precipitate the downfall of its founder. The post claimed Uber had a problem with sexual harassment that was being systematically ignored by human resources and managers.
"There was the organisational chaos, and there was also the sexism within the organisation," Fowler wrote.
And there were further challenges to the company in the UK. Uber had its licence renewal blocked by Transport for London in September 2017, putting its future in the UK in jeopardy. Uber later managed to secure a renewed licence on appeal in 2018.
Even today, Uber has struggled to move on from rider protests and discontent. The company said it expects to begin cutting driver incentives in the future to manage costs. Ahead of its float, protests against the app erupted in the UK and the US.
Uber's founder Travis Kalanick
A serial entrepreneur and college dropout, Kalanick had already sold one business and seen another go bankrupt. He sold his first successful venture for $19m.
Kalanick always credited his co-founder with the idea for Uber, but it was Kalanick who became its figurehead. He oversaw a series of deals and meteoric growth for the ride-hailing business.
But in 2017, a video emerged of Kalanick berating an Uber driver during a ride and he was blamed for failing to stem the problems of sexual harassment at the company. Uber also became mired in a damaging lawsuit over driverless car technology with its rival Waymo.
That summer, a report into Uber's culture by former US Attorney General was damning, calling on the company to end its "bro" culture with internal philosophies of “toe stepping,” “always be hustlin’ ”. Uber ultimately fired 20 staff over the sexual harassment scandal.
In August, Uber's oldest shareholders Benchmark dispatched two partners to a Chicago Hotel to meet Kalanick, Bloomberg reported. There, they presented him with a letter demanding his resignation, or they would go to the press alleging a failure of leadership. Kalanick signed the papers that night.
“If we are going to work on Uber 2.0, I also need to work on Travis 2.0 to become the leader that this company needs and that you deserve,” he told staff in a company-wide email.
The road to IPO
Within weeks, Uber's board had replaced Kalanick with former Expedia boss Dara Khosrowshahi. It quickly became clear that the new boss was seen as a steadying force on the start-up - and one who would be expected to lead it onto public markets.
In the company's S1 filing for its float, Khosrowshahi said Uber had made huge changes in the 18 months since he joined. “In getting from point A to point B we didn't get everything right,” he said.
“We have improved our governance and board oversight... and made the changes necessary to ensure the company culture rewards teamwork,” he said.
But Khosrowshahi has also said the company is not done growing: “We are not even one percent done with our work,” he said.
How Uber makes, and loses, its billions
Two years later, Uber is on the eve of an initial public offering that will net Kalanick billions. In its history, however, Uber has never turned a profit, aside from when it was selling off overseas businesses.
Uber has ballooned into a business with impressive revenues, growing from $3.8bn in 2016 to $11.3bn in 2018. Its business lines have spread from its ride-hailing division (which made $9.2bn last year) to a fast-growing food delivery venture UberEats (which made $1.5bn) and other new experiments like driverless cars and flying cars.
But Uber also loses billions of dollars. Its rides have been subsidised to encourage drivers to use the app and appeal to passengers with incentives.
And its bets on new ventures are also costing it. Last year Uber spent $457m on flying and driverless technology, bringing its total spend over three years to $1.07bn.
In total, Uber has lost $8bn since it was founded.
Uber's biggest shareholders are set to take home a major payday from Uber's float, but it might not be as big as it could have been. While Uber had been billed as going public with a value of as much as $120bn, it is now likely to float at just $91bn.
Uber's biggest shareholder is Softbank, the Japanese technology firm, which owns around 16pc of Uber. Kalanick owns around 8pc.
Right now, Softbank would expect to make around $15bn. Kalanick will take home in the region of $8bn.
When will Uber go public?
Uber is expected to price its float late on Thursday when US markets close. It is then expected to go public on Friday on May 10, when investors will be able to buy shares in the company.