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Why Uber could be about to become the most valuable startup in history

The ride-sharing company will soon be priced at over $50 billion if all goes to plan.

UBER IS ABOUT to tap investors again in a fundraising push that could leave the six-year-old startup as the most valuable in history.

The San Francisco-based ride-sharing company plans to raise up to another $2 billion in funding which – if the cash-raising is successful – would price the company at over $50 billion (€44.8 billion), according to the Wall Street Journal.

That would mean Uber, already priced at $41 billion on its last investment drive, would leapfrog Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi’s $46 billion as the most-valuable startup in the world.

Facebook is the only other company to have been valued at $50 billion before launching on the stock market. It is now worth about $220 billion after last year delivering a $2.94 billion profit to investors.

Institute of Directors annual conference - London Uber founder Travis Kalanick Source: Anthony Devlin/PA Archive

Ready for scale

The reason behind Uber’s meteoric rise and investor’s ongoing eagerness to pump more money into the company comes down to that favourite buzzword of the startup scene – scalability.

Its core business, ride-sharing and on-demand transport, has already begun to shake up the global taxi and limo industry in a market that is worth about $12 billion a year in the US alone.

However Uber hasn’t been content with using its newly-created logistics framework just to shift people around.

The company has recently expanded into delivering food with UberEATS, couriered goods with UberRUSH and consumer staples with UberESSENTIALS.

While these operations are in their embryonic stages, Uber has the potential to take a bite out of business for a lot more firms than just taxi companies.

Belgium Taxi Strike Taxi drivers protest against Uber in Brussels earlier this year Source: AP Photo/Virginia Mayo

What’s not clear from all the figures is how much cash the six-year-old company has been burning through to fuel that expansion – and what profits, if any, it has managed to eke out in the process.

Late last year, Business Insider editor-in-chief Henry Blodget reported Uber’s annualised revenue was expected to hit $10 billion by the end of this year. With the company keeping 20% of each transaction, that amounts to a net $2 billion hitting its coffers.

Even at lower valuations, such as when Uber was priced at $17 billion on a fundraising round last year, analysts were questioning whether the company was worth the staggering figure for a then barely five-year-old company.

Much of that hinges on whether it can reproduce the kind of market share it has been able to pull in cities like its native San Francisco in other locations, while staying clear of the regulatory and legal roadblocks it has already hit in many territories.

READ: These will be the boom industries for European startups this year >

READ: Ten million downloads and counting – inside a Dublin games studio with a difference >

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About the author:

Peter Bodkin  / Editor, Fora

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