CURRENT super start-up Uber is closer to breaking into Wales, with a Cardiff-based taxi firm being granted the first operating licence in the country. The cab-booking app is already active in London, Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds across the border.
Having expanded at an unprecedented rate since starting business in March 2009, it now operates across the globe in more than 50 countries and 300 cities. Valuations had previously put the company at $30-$40 billion, but after another round of fundraising last year to find another $2 billion, the San Francisco-based app developer has been given the massive $62.5 billion price tag by its investors.
Impressive enough for a company not even seven years old, but that valuation is greater than the GDP of two thirds of the countries in the world. Uber’s backers consider it to be worth more than 120 of 194 countries whose GDP was measured last year by the World Bank. That’s just above all the goods and services made by Sudan.
Some more Uber maths: $62.5 billion is the GDP of two Ivory Coasts, almost three Cypruses, four Icelands, or ten Monacos.
For those of us who’ve missed Uber, it is essentially an app which connects drivers with passengers directly, instead of through a centralised booking service or through just hailing a car in the street. The app — which is available on Android and iOS — pitches itself as a safe and reliable way to get on-demand rides in most of the world’s major cities.
Using GPS, it detects your location and connects you with the nearest driver. You can also request a specific type of car if you prefer, such as a luxury ride or a straightforward taxi. The app texts you when the driver arrives, and you can check the identity of the driver against who actually shows up.
The app also gives you a price estimate, and is cashless — you pay through the app, including tips. You can even split the fare between different riders.
No date has been put on the app’s arrival in Aberystwyth. With a population of just over 13,000 it is unlikely to be coming any time soon. An already heavily saturated cab market will be a turn-off, and convincing some if not all of them to race for the available work in the town would be a challenge for the multi-continental business.