Careem Networks FZ-LLC
Company typePrivate
IndustryTechnology
Founded2012; 12 years ago (2012)
Founders
  • Mudassir Sheikha
  • Magnus Olsson
  • Abdulla Elyas
HeadquartersDubai
Area served
100+ cities in the Middle East, Africa and Pakistan
Key people
  • Mudassir Sheikha
  • Magnus Olsson
  • Abdulla Elyas
ProductsMobile app
Services
ParentUber and e& (Since 2023)
Websitecareem.com

Careem is a Dubai-based super app with operations in over 100 cities, covering 12 countries across the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia regions.[2] The company, which was valued at over US$2 billion in 2018,[3] became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Uber after being acquired for $3.1 billion in January 2020.[4] Careem expanded into the food delivery business with Careem Now in November 2018[5] and launched a digital payment platform, Careem Pay in April 2022.[6] In April 2023, Careem's Super App business was spun out into a new legal entity, which e& acquired a 50.03% stake in,[7] while Uber maintains full ownership of Careem's ride-hailing business.

History

Careem was founded by Mudassir Sheikha, an American of Pakistani[8] origin, and Magnus Olsson of Sweden, who had both worked as management consultants at McKinsey & Company.[9] It started operating in 2012 as a website-based service for corporate car bookings, and evolved to become a ridesharing company with car hire for everyday use.[10]

Careem's first logo, used from 2012 to 2016
Careem's first logo, used from 2012 to 2016

In 2015, the company acquired a Saudi-based home service company and Abdulla Elyas joined Careem.[11] In 2017, the company announced a program to extend maternity leave and hire more women.[12]

In June 2017, Careem launched operations in Palestine as part of a commitment to create one million jobs in the MENA region by the end of 2018.[13] In January 2018, they became the first ride-hailing service to launch in Baghdad. The company also has locations in Najaf and Erbil, Kurdistan Region.[14][15]

It was announced in February 2018, that Careem had acquired RoundMenu, a restaurant listing and food ordering platform that operates across the Arab world.[16] In August 2018, Careem said they would be launching bus services, starting with cities in Egypt in December of the same year.[17] The service was discontinued in early 2020.[18]

In May 2019, Careem announced the acquisition of UAE-based bike-sharing startup Cycle which will re-brand as Careem Bike.[19]

In April 2022, Careem launched Careem Pay, a digital wallet for money transfers and withdrawals in the UAE.[20]

In June 2022, Careem suspended food delivery service in Pakistan over unfavorable economic conditions.[21]

As of February 2023, Careem ceased its operations in Qatar including ridesharing, grocery and food delivery, courier services, and digital payments.[22]

Funding

Careem received seed money of US$1.7 million in a round led by STC Ventures in 2013. In 2014, it received funding of US$10 million in a Series B round led by Al Tayyar Travel Group and STC Ventures.

In November 2015, Careem announced a Series C round investment of US$60 million led by The Abraaj Group.[23][24][25] In October 2016, the company reached an agreement with regulators in Dubai whereby customers are able to book all taxicabs and limousines operating in Dubai via the Careem mobile app.[26] In December 2016, the company raised US$350 million in a Series D round, based on a US$1 billion valuation for the company.[27] Saudi Telecom in this funding round invested in a 10% stake in Careem.[28] In October 2018, the company secured US$200 million funding from its existing investors.[29][30]

On 26 March 2019, Uber agreed to acquire the company for US$3.1 billion, including US$1.4 billion in cash and US$1.7 billion in convertible notes,[31] making Careem the first unicorn startup company in the Middle East outside of Israel.[32]

On April 10, 2023, e&, the global technology and investment group,[33] announced its agreement with Uber and Careem to acquire a majority stake in Careem's Super App business.[34] Careem's ride-hailing business will continue to be owned by Uber, while the Careem Super App will be owned by e&, as well as Uber and all three of Careem's co-founders.[35] With this new investment, Careem plans to accelerate its vision to create the first “everything app” serving customers across the Middle East.[36] All services will continue to be available on the Careem Super App.[37]

Careem Now

In 2018, Careem announced it was launching a food delivery service app called Careem Now, delivering food and pharmaceuticals, initially in Dubai and Jeddah.[38] In 2019, the service expanded into Riyadh and Amman, and announced it was also launching in Pakistan.[39] On 21 April 2020, the service expanded its Dubai service into delivering groceries and other essential products.[40]

On 4 May 2020, Uber Eats announced they were exiting the United Arab Emirates and that their services would be offered through Careem Now.[41]

Women

In Pakistan, Careem employs women drivers. Women are also employed as drivers in Egypt and Jordan.[3] In Saudi Arabia, women make up 80% of the company's customers.[28] Careem is planning to have a female workforce of 20,000 by the year 2020.[42] In Saudi Arabia, Careem and Uber have started recruiting women, as part of the Saudi Women to drive movement. Women were legally allowed to start driving on 24 June 2018, and Uber and Careem women drivers were able to start working on the same day.[43]

Layoffs

Due to the impact of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Careem announced on its blog[44] that it was laying off 31% of its workforce, amounting to 536 employees. [45] [46] [47] [48] [49] [50]

Criticism

Regulations

See also: Legality of ridesharing companies by jurisdiction

Taxi protests in Egypt

Uber and Careem faced heavy criticism in Egypt at the beginning of 2016 from local taxi drivers for operating without official taxi licenses. Taxi drivers organized several protests and sit-ins demanding that the Egyptian government intervene to halt the activities of the TNCs. A committee was organized by the Egyptian government to assess the complaints of the protesting taxi drivers and standardize taxi services in Egypt. They ruled in favor of the TNCs, ensuring that they can operate legally and provided legal protection for the TNC drivers who had been facing attacks by both state police and angry taxi drivers.[51][52][53][54]

Data breach

In January 2018, Careem discovered data on more than 14 million riders and 558,800 drivers were breached. The company waited until late April 2018, to disclose this breach because they "wanted to make sure we had the most accurate information before notifying people".[55][56][57] According to investigations conducted by the company, there was no initial evidence of fraud or misuse.[58]

Work culture and working conditions

Careem has faced a wave of criticisms centered around their work culture and hiring practices. These criticisms have been amplified through various social media platforms.

In a LinkedIn post from June 2023, Mudassir Sheikha outlined the type of professionals Careem is looking to hire. He stated that the company is not the right fit for those whose top priority is cash compensation although he highlighted that Careem offers competitive compensation. He also said that it's also not a right fit for those looking for a 9 to 5 job, or those who thrive with structure and certainty. He emphasized that Careem is more focused on impact and fulfilling its purpose rather than offering high cash compensation or a structured work environment.[59] The post received a significant amount of backlash. Commenters argued that competitive cash compensation is essential for attracting high-quality talent and that neglecting this aspect could lead to high turnover rates. Others sarcastically remarked that who needs cash compensation when one can have the satisfaction of creating impact.

A Business Insider article highlighted the criticisms Mudassir Sheikha faced for his LinkedIn post. The article noted that tech workers took to the employee forum Blind to criticize the CEO's post as "tone-deaf" and "cringe." One comment translated the CEO's message as, "we’ll pay you peanuts, put you in a cramped space with little amenities, provide no training, work you till you burn out and quit so the execs and owners can get a fat payout on the back of your labor." The article also mentioned that many comments on LinkedIn took issue with the CEO's statement.[60] The article also said that not all the comments were negative and that Careem continually benchmarks its salaries against a peer group of leading global companies. The article further quoted comments that praised the LinkedIn post for being "rare" and "honest". It also referenced an article from the UAE newspaper The National News reporting that "hundreds of Careem employees had walked out of the Uber acquisition millionaires due to the $3.1 billion payout".[61]

Careem has received mixed reviews from its employees on Glassdoor, a platform where employees can review their employers. While some employees praised the company for its culture, flexible working hours, and open communication, others criticized it for a lack of supportive management, unfair expectations, and a toxic work environment. Some of the specific criticisms included no work-life balance, a lot of work on weekends, bad management, a lot of firings, low pay, and extended working hours being forced despite having a contract stating maximum working hours in a week. One comment also claimed that Careem manipulates its review score on Glassdoor with fake reviews.[62] According to the UAE-based newspaper Khaleej Times, Careem colleagues "rate their job satisfaction and loyalty [to Careem] way above tech industry averages". The article cited that Careem's unlimited leave policy "gives the company a competitive advantage when it comes to recruiting talent" and helps "reverse brain drain from the region".[63]

Charity work

Since 2018, Careem has generated over USD 4.2 million through donations and fundraising.[64] Careem was one of the "first tech firms in the region to leverage its app to collect charitable donations".[65] In Pakistan, Careem has been a supporter of Cricket for a Cause and has supported the league's efforts to raise funds for children in developing nations. In 2018 in Pakistan, Careem and Robin Hood Army took the initiative to feed more than 10,000 people across the nation.[66]

In 2021, Careem introduced "Donations", a direct service selectable from the landing page of the app allowing customers to make contributions to three causes. The selected causes include UNICEF for digital learning, Dubai Cares for underprivileged children's education, and UNHCR for financial assistance to refugees. Donations were previously collected through the 'Rewards' program on the Careem app. Careem has supported fundraising appeals for various charities, such as Iraq Builders, The Citizens' Fund in Pakistan, Qatar Cancer Society, SOS Children's Village in Lebanon, and Tabara3a in Saudi Arabia. [67]

Careem offers a donation option via its ride-hailing service, where customers can donate a certain amount every time they take a ride. This was available in Pakistan in partnership with the Shahid Afridi Foundation, which assisted those affected by floods in Balochistan and Sindh in 2022. [68]

Beyond fundraising, Careem actively supports local businesses and technology professionals in the markets where it operates. Partnerships include collaborating with Gaza Sky Geeks to provide training and internships to tech talent in Gaza. [69]


In 2023, Careem partnered with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives organization to contribute to the 1 billion meals endowment campaign that happens every Ramadan in UAE. [70] Careem also announced that it was opening up its Gaza relief campaign to customers in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan through the Emirates Red Crescent, Tkiyet Um Ali in Jordan, and King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center. Customers can use the Careem app to contribute to the campaign, with the company matching Careem Plus member donations. Careem also announced that colleagues had donated over USD 540,000 towards the humanitarian crisis.[71]

See also

References

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