Uber Technology’s (UBER) fiery development and constant controversy made it one of the most fascinating companies to emerge over the past decade. The firm, founded in 2009, soon grew to become the highest-valued private start-up company in the world.
With Uber’s rapid growth came many controversies that knocked down the firm’s valuation from a lofty $70 billion to $48 billion in its last funding round in Jan. 2018. On May 23, 2018, the company announced a new tender offer that would bump the company’s value to $62 billion.
Earlier in 2018, the Japanese conglomerate Softbank Group, along with a group of investors including Dragoneer Investment Group, successfully bid for 20% of Uber’s stock at this lower valuation, a 30% discount on the last valuation figure. The deal reportedly gave Softbank 15% in \ rideshare company while Uber got a powerful ally in Asia, and could help turn the tide for the company after a few very public missteps. The remaining 5% of shares reportedly went to other investors in the group. The year hasn’t been all great, though, as a self-driving Uber vehicle was involved in a fatal crash. Additionally, on August 8, 2018, the New York City Council voted to put a pause on new licenses issued to ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft.
Despite the lower valuation, Uber today is valued more than the market cap of Ford Motor Company (F) and General Motors Company (GM). It will be interesting to see how the company’s plan of going public by 2019 plays out.
Founders Meet in Paris
Uber’s story began in Paris in 2008. Two friends, Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp were attending the LeWeb, an annual tech conference the Economist describes as “where revolutionaries gather to plot the future”.
In 2007, both men had sold start-ups they co-founded for large sums. Kalanick sold Red Swoosh to Akamai Technologies for $19 million while Camp sold Stumble Upon to eBay (EBAY) for $75 million.
Rumour has it that the concept for Uber was born one winter night during the conference when the pair was unable to get a cab. Initially, the idea was for a timeshare limo service that could be ordered via an app. After the conference, the entrepreneurs went their separate ways, but when Camp returned to San Francisco, he continued to be fixated on the idea and bought the domain name UberCab.com.
On July 9, 2018, it was announced Uber is investing in the electric scooter rental company, Lime, in collaboration with Alphabet Inc.’s Google Ventures (GOOG). Lime was founded in 2017 and has raised $467 million thus far. These lightweight scooters are available for rent all over cities, as customers leave them on the sidewalk for the next rider, making for convenience and clean energy-based business model. The deal is part of a $335 million investment round, and the business is valued at $1.1 billion. Uber plans to promote Lime through its app and brand its own logo on the scooters. Uber made similar efforts with the start-up JUMP Bikes before acquiring the business for reportedly close to $200 million in April 2018.
The Bottom Line
Like Google, Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Tesla Motors (TSLA), Uber is also gearing up for a future of driverless cars. The company is currently planning to get a permit for its self-driving cars in California. However, the road has been bumpy so far, especially since Alphabet Inc’s (GOOG) Waymo sued Uber for theft of self-driving technology, not to mention the ousting of its own founder and CEO.
With a little time and teamwork, Uber can strive for its objective and enhance its already positioned brand on a greater hype.
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