Skip to Content
The Big Picture San Diego Blog

Cali Baja Bi-National Mega Region

October 28, 2014

Uber logo

Uber, the ubiquitous transportation platform, has revolutionized the way San Diegans get around. But it’s more than just a logistics platform. Although Uber is available in more than 100 cities around the world, they have found a way to leverage San Diego’s unique assets, tapping into both the concentration of military personnel and cross-border economy.  They are a high-tech company that has mastered the cross-over between innovation and quality of life – something San Diego knows well.

Christopher Ballard, general manager of Uber San Diego, explains why the company thrives in San Diego:

1) Tell us about Uber
Uber is a technology company that is changing the way the world moves, works and lives. By seamlessly connecting riders to the safest, most reliable ride on the road, we’re making all of San Diego more accessible to locals and visitors alike at prices anyone can afford.  And our growth in the city has been tremendous. When we launched in San Diego in early 2012, we partnered with a handful of drivers covering the Gaslamp. Today, we have thousands of drivers partnering with the Uber platform, with average pickup times of less than five minutes across San Diego.

2) What are some advantages to being located/doing business in San Diego?
Why Uber Chose SD We like to say Uber is a technology company at the intersection of lifestyle and logistics, and that’s definitely the case in San Diego.  San Diego’s quality of life attracts ambitious, dynamic and tech-savvy people from across the country and the world who regularly ride and drive with the Uber platform.  We’ve also tapped into the tremendous talent, commitment and dedication of our city’s vast military community as part of our national UberMILITARY initiative, which started in San Diego.  We are committing to onboarding 50,000 service members, veterans and military spouses over the next 18 months as driver-partners with the Uber platform.  

Also, San Diego has the unique distinction of being a border region.  Having recently launched Uber Tijuana, we see a major opportunity in providing riders more choice in transportation options throughout the Cali-Baja Region.

3) San Diego is full of dynamic companies, firms and service providers influencing global trends and innovation. Pick another San Diego company that is at the top of its game.
HouseCall is revolutionizing the home services space.  Founded by ex-Qualcomm employees, the app allows people to book home services jobs directly with the service provider.  As someone who doesn’t have a lot of time left in the day for household chores like cleaning the house or fixing a sink, having the option to press a button and receive immediate service from a vetted professional is a major way to stay productive.

4) What do you anticipate for your company in five years? What do you anticipate for San Diego?
I see Uber weaving itself further into the fabric of city life in San Diego and cities across the globe.  Right now, we’re connecting riders to drivers in less than five minutes.  Once you get that right, the possibilities for on-demand delivery are endless, and the need to own a vehicle is diminished. Ultimately, we’re trying to make it so that car ownership isn’t necessary in San Diego.  It’s an ambitious goal, but one we think is achievable.  If we can make it so that it’s cheaper to take an Uber than own a car, we can boost productivity, reduce congestion, and help make San Diego an even better place to live.  We also hope to facilitate stronger economic and social ties between Tijuana and San Diego by making seamless cross-border transportation a reality.

Subscribe to our blog

March 4, 2013

CaliBaja MegaRegion

How many positive articles about Mexico does it take to confirm a trend? Three seems about right, but add in a major think tank calling 2013/2014 the “Year of Mexico,” and you’ve got a full-fledged movement going on.

First came Chris Anderson’s New York Times opinion piece titled “Mexico: The New China,” where he describes his cross-border company 3D Robotics. With facilities in both San Diego and Tijuana he is able to do what he calls “quicksourcing,” where the short supply chain between the two locations enables the company to innovate faster and control inventory more efficiently. Anderson, who was the editor of Wired before he left to join 3D Robotics full time, compares the Hong Kong and Shenzhen special economic zone of the late 1990s and early 2000s to today’s experience working between San Diego and Tijuana. “The sense of possibility I felt when I first crossed from Hong Kong to Shenzhen in 1997 is what I now feel when I cross from San Diego to Tijuana,” said Anderson.

Flat-worlder Thomas Friedman weighed in from Monterrey, Mexico on “How Mexico Got Back in the Game,” with stats on Mexico’s trade with the U.S. – a staggering $1.5 billion a day. Friedman cites The Financial Times reporting that Mexico has signed 44 trade agreements, which is more than any country in the world, and exports more manufactured products than the combined exports of all other Latin American countries. “Better integration of Mexico’s manufacturing and innovation prowess into America’s is a win-win. It makes U.S. companies more profitable and competitive, so they can expand at home and abroad, and it gives Mexicans a reason to stay home and reduces violence,” wrote Friedman.

Violence is where USA Today’s article “Mexico’s commerce crawls back from drug war’s chaos,” started – but the story focused on the fact that border violence has been dropping steadily in the last year –  quoting a study from the University of San Diego’s Trans-Border Institute citing that organized crime-related murder in Mexico dropped 21 percent in 2012. In Mexico’s six border states the drop was a dramatic 32 percent.  San Diego Regional EDC’s Christina Luhn, who leads the Cali Baja Bi-National Mega-Region initiative, worked closely with the reporters and introduced them to people on both sides of the border.

EDC Vice President Sean Barr was in Washington DC last week for meetings at the Brookings Institution regarding their Metropolitan Export Exchange program where teams of metropolitan leaders are working on developing Metropolitan Export Plans to improve their global trade strategies so the nation can remain a center of growth and innovation for years to come. At the meeting Brookings announced that 2013/14 will be the “Year of Mexico.” According to Barr, the ongoing reshoring and nearshoring trends have attracted their attention. Their effort will start with an in-depth study of US-Mexico supply chains.  “The Mega-Region Initiative is of considerable interest to them,” he told the EDC team.

Let’s make sure it’s really the year of cross-border progress.