San Francisco is the undisputed home of the start-up. From the Silicon Valley powerhouses to growing tech clusters in Oakland and the Mission, the Bay Area is a hub for digital innovation. Apple, Netflix, Twitter, Dropbox, Pinterest, StumbleUpon and more all hail from this corner of northern California. It should be no surprise, then, that San Francisco is also home to a host of companies that are changing the way we travel. Eleanor Aldridge picks seven of the best.
In 2010, it was impossible to find a cab in San Francisco, so Garrett Camp and Travis Kalanick came up with an idea. They created an app that would allow users to get a quote and hail a car immediately, track the driver’s arrival using GPS and pay with a pre-registered card. Uber, “everyone’s private driver”, has since controversially re-defined taxi services around the world. There are several levels of service available – the cheapest, UberX, usually works out 20–50% less than a regular taxi. Drivers and passengers rate each other out of five after each ride; if drivers drop below 4.5 stars, they’re in danger of being struck off, while passengers with poor ratings are likely to be passed up.
The HotelTonight app has been downloaded over ten million times since it launched in 2011, and covers cities across the US and Europe. Each day they offer unsold rooms from a selection of handpicked hotels to travellers looking for a last-minute bed. Prices vary, but are usually at least 20% lower than the rack rate. Aside from the sleek, easy-to-use interface, a big selling point is the quality of the properties, which range from “basic” and “solid” budget options to five-star and design hotels classified as “hip” or “luxe”.