One can make a lot of money taxing people around. At least, if you're an easy-to-use private car service — and if you were one of the first out of the gate to disrupt the otherwise stodgy taxi services market.
Such is the case with Uber, which confirmed yesterday that it has raised an eye-opening $1.2 billion round of venture capital funding. That puts Uber's total valuation at $17 billion, and has just made quite a bit of change for the company's early investors (as much as 2,000 times their initial investment, reports Fortune).
Say what you will about said valuation, which now makes Uber one of the world's most valuable private technology companies — after just four years of existence, we note. According to Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Uber is doubling its business revenue every six months.
"We just passed the 1,000 employee mark. If we are doubling every six months on the revenue side, you want to grow slightly slower than that on the operations and business side…The things that make the headlines are not really the core of the business. The core of the business is engineering and product and operations which are in the cities making this a reality. That's a vast majority of the business," Kalanick said.
(He, perhaps wisely, dodged the Wall Street Journal's questions related to his opinion of Uber's giant valuation.)
Uber, which now reaches a total of 127 cities in 37 countries around the globe, set a record for technology startups as far as a direct investment round goes. According to Bloomberg, Kalanick is even keeping the funding round open in case other investors want to pitch in a bit more here and there — possibly an additional $200 million, though Kalanick didn't mention who, specifically, might be throwing in a bit more.
As for what Uber will do with its war chest, the company plans to continue to grow its services in its existing cities (and perhaps a few new additions). While there's speculation that Uber might also use some of the funding to grow into new business areas — like package delivery, for example — Kalanick has maintained that the focus of this major funding round was on Uber's core services, not add-ons.
"With our growth and expansion, the company has evolved from being a scrappy Silicon Valley tech startup to being a way of life for millions of people in cities around the world. This "Uber" way of life is really a reflection of our mission to turn ground transportation into a seamless service and to enable a transportation alternative in cities that makes car ownership a thing of the past," reads a blog post from Kalanick.
"Four years in, we are just at the beginning of the Uber story. We are working hard to improve what we do every day and are focused on making our great potential a reality. We appreciate the confidence that investors, riders and partner drivers have shown in us and we intend to deliver" www.pcmag.com