Merchant Innovation

Uber Hits Unicorn (Ride-Hailing) Mark

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As the new year draws near, Uber dropped the news that its ride-hailing service has reached its one-billionth ride.

The milestone trip took place on Christmas Eve in London, and the company is giving the lucky rider a year of free Uber rides (up to £10,000), TechCrunch reported Wednesday (Dec. 30).

“This holiday season, we’re feeling grateful and festive crossing this milestone as we close out the year,” Uber said in a blog post announcing the accomplishment. “For riding their way into our history books, we’re putting one year’s worth of free rides in rider Marvin’s stocking, and our driver-partner Ara will be taking a vacation on us to the Uber city of his choice.”

The global startup is no stranger to billions.

Uber’s latest $2.1 billion round of funding, led by Tiger Global Management and T. Rowe Price, is expected to push the company’s valuation to $64.6 billion. While the funding seems to keep rolling in for Uber, company executives continue to stay mum on when/if an IPO is in the near future.

In October, The New York Times shared that Uber CEO Travis Kalanick expressed no immediate desire to take that next step.

“We’re like eighth graders. We’re in junior high, and someone is telling us that we need to go to the prom, and it’s just a little early,” remarked Kalanick at The Wall Street Journal’s WSJDLive Conference. “Let us get into high school before we start talking about these sorts of things.”

Rather than going public, Uber appears focused on using its significant amount of funds to build out endeavors such as the delivery services, UberEATS and UberRUSH, the multiple passenger-inclusive UberPOOL offering and international expansion in countries such as Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam and — in particular — China, which Kalanick recently cited (via the NYT story) as currently being home to approximately 30 percent of all trips taken using Uber.

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