Published On: Mon, Sep 15th, 2014

Is Uber Really Worth $18 Billion? What if It Picked Up your Groceries?

App Car Service Startups Continue To Irk Traditional Cab Companies And Regulators

Uber, which offers an app that lets users find taxis around the world, may be worth as much as $18 billion as it expands into new countries such as India and is also starting to offer personal errand services.

This according to the company’s CEO Travis Kalanick, who recently spoke with CNN; even though, some countries like Germany do not want to allow Uber to operate within their borders. Kalanick, however, sees Uber quadrupling in value every year.

Based in San Francisco and founded in 2009 Uber declares that it is “evolving the way the world moves. By seamlessly connecting riders to drivers through our apps, we make cities more accessible, opening up more possibilities for riders and more business for drivers.” Its service is currently available in 70 cities worldwide.

Now imagine if you could, with the push of a button on your mobile device, get someone to pick up your dry cleaning or get you a gallon of milk from the convenience store. That is exactly what Uber is now offering.

“In Los Angeles, we’re doing something called Uber Fresh, which is you push a button and you get a lunch in five minutes, ” Kalanick told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria. “In DC, we’re doing Uber Corner Store. So imagine all the things you get at a corner store.”

“FedEx isn’t going to your nearest pharmacy and delivering something to you in five minutes, ” he added.

Uber has announced that it will expand into three more Indian cities, Mumbai, Chennai and Pune.

Meanwhile, in Germany, a court ruled last month that Uber cannot operate there because it does not have a permit to transport people commercially and therefore violates that country’s Passenger Transportation Act.

But it’s not all smooth sailing. The company faces competition from the traditional taxi industry as well as other, smaller ride-sharing and transportation apps, like Lyft, Gett and Sidecar. Uber and Lyft have engaged in a particularly nasty battle.

There are also challenges from regulators. That’s why Kalanick — who said “I can make really good code, ” but is not so skilled at working political systems — hired President Obama’s former campaign manager, David Plouffe.

“There’s a lot of regulations that go way back that didn’t contemplate what the future was going to look like, ” he said. Those laws didn’t imagine a smartphone era where “you’d be able to get out an app and get a car in two minutes.”

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