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We’re Going Global with Big Funding

December 7, 2011 / Paris

Today marks a big milestone for Uber. It is the culmination of everything we’ve done over the last 18 months and the cornerstone for the next phase of the company, making Uber a global transportation and logistics brand. I’ll start with the big news, and then provide some color behind it.

The UBER News:

  • UberEurope and UberParis launch is going live today, December 7th, 2011 at Noon.
  • UberParis transportation open to everyone who has the Uber app
  • Uber will be providing free transportation around Paris to hundreds of early signups the entire LeWeb conference.
  • Uber has raised $32mm in funding to power global expansion across North America, Europe and Asia
  • New investors include Menlo Ventures, Goldman Sachs, and Bezos Expeditions. Significant participating investors include Benchmark Capital, and Lowercase Capital.

and now for the color…

Paris, je t’aime

A little known part of the Uber story is that the original idea for Uber, the conceptual founding happened in Paris at LeWeb in December 2008. We like to say that Uber was “founded” in Paris with Loic & Geraldine LeMeur’s LeWeb conference providing the inspiration. It is because of our origins that it is so exciting to make Paris our first city outside of the U.S.

Background and numbers

It’s been a wild 18 months. In June of 2010, we launched operations in San Francisco. We got our first major round of capital in February 2011 from Benchmark to power initial expansion and testing the San Francisco model in a few other cities. By May 2011, we launched in New York City. By August, we were in Seattle, September was Chicago, October we launched in Boston. The rapid expansion was driven by increasing operational expertise and proof that all other cities were growing as fast, if not faster than San Francisco.

Here are some interesting numbers:

  • Over $100 avg. spend/rider/month
  • 34%+ MOM growth, currently accelerating
  • Rolling out 1 city/mo in Q4 going to 2 cities/mo in 2012

Going Global

As we started expanding, it became clear that individual cities were the unique factor in our launches. Each city is unique in its transportation pain points, its density, its transportation alternatives, regulation, even its transportation culture. As we did more research we found that there were “classes” of cities that were not based on country. Case in point, Paris is much more like San Francisco in terms of car service transportation, than New York is. This realization meant that traditional thinking around domestic first, international second, just didn’t apply. Furthermore, the advent of a sophisticated “cloning” and copycat industry means you need to move fast to stake your claim on the global stage.

Investing in the next phase

Rapid global expansion means having the fuel in the tank to take things up a couple notches.  That’s in terms of people, but also the op-ex to get cities launched. We aspire to build an urban logistics fabric in every major city in the world – and we now have the traction and proof points to give our dream a shot at reality. So our Series B which we just recently closed includes Menlo Ventures, Goldman Sachs, and Bezos Expedition (Jeff Bezos’ personal investment fund). Benchmark and Lowercase both participated. I also wanted to do a special shoutout to newly minted VC, Shervin Pishevar from Menlo Ventures. He breaks the mold of how a VC rolls, brings big heart & passion and I think could quickly become one of the most sought after VCs out there (you heard it here first).

Well that’s the news, back to work getting more supply up in Paris… they’re loving Uber out here!