BY PAVITHRA MOHAN
Just five years in, Uber is the most valuable startup in the world, worth more than $50 billion after its most recent round of funding. It’s arguably the quickest to scale as well, and the ride-hailing company doesn’t show signs of slowing down: Uber drivers now make a whopping 2 million rides per day across the world.
WHAT MAKES UBER RUN
The transportation service has become a global brand, an economic force, and a cultural lightning rod. Here’s how and why the architect of all this disruption, CEO Travis Kalanick, plans to keep on confounding expectations.
In five years, Uber, which dispatches low-cost taxis and limousines operated by independent drivers, is likely the fastest-growing startup in history. It has more than 1 million active drivers—meaning they did at least one trip in the past week—operating in 330 cities (as of mid-August) and a valuation of $51 billion, which is roughly equivalent to the market capitalization of General Motors. It is a global phenomenon that is redesigning urbanites’ relationship with the world around them, transforming their smartphones into control pads for their harried lives.
Uber—the first company since Google with a service so popular that its name is in regular use as both a noun and a verb—has spawned an entire category of business known as the one-tap economy: Millions of people now routinely open an app to enlist a distributed workforce to deliver groceries, hot meals, and their clean laundry on demand.
If these numbers are difficult to fathom from a company that launched barely five years ago, it’s because Uber has made inroads into regions outside of the U.S. that have significantly expanded its business. This year, the company plans to invest $1 billion in both China and India; A letter Kalanick wrote to investors back in June indicated that Uber was about to reach 1 million rides a day in China alone, just a little over a year after making its debut there.
The company’s next goal abroad? To replicate its success in China: clocking a million trips each day in India by early 2016.