Is Uber Worth $50 Billion? Investors Seem to Think So

During the week, I share some of the most interesting rideshare stories on Facebook and this week was chalk full of them!  Today, RSG contributor, John Ince takes a look at Uber’s latest round of financing, some cool stories about drivers and a huge announcement by Sidecar!

Uber Fund-Raising Points to $50 Billion Valuation

Sum and Substance: Uber is fund-raising again. The mobile car-hailing application is in early talks to raise a new round of financing that could value the start-up at $50 billion, …Uber could raise around $1.5 billion cash, … The new capital will not be used primarily for expansion purposes, unlike Uber’s previous financing rounds. Instead, the funding is strategic.

My Take: These numbers sometimes seem surreal.  But, they very well may be justified.  In fact if the market validates the numbers, they are justified … today … but what the market will say tomorrow is another matter.  Then again, $50 billion may one day seem like a bargain.  I remember 15 years ago, when I was interviewing venture capitalist, John Doerr about Kleiner Perkins’ seed $25 million funding round in Google.  He was talking about how expensive it was getting to invest in quality startups.  Today Google is worth over $360 billion.  When a company’s valuation gets to such stratospheric levels, it essentially has a license to print money – but their issuing stock instead.  Why not take advantage of that opportunity? With this $1.5 billion targeted for strategic partnerships, it suggests Uber will be moving aggressively into new ventures and ancillary services … like deliveries.  Who knows maybe some of it will go to partnerships on driverless cars … or a digital mapping service of it’s very own …. to compete with Google.  See Below …

Uber Joins the Bidding for Here, Nokia’s Digital Mapping Service

Sum and Substance: Uber has submitted a bid for Here, the main competitor to Google Maps, for as much as $3 billion, according to three people with knowledge of the offer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

My Take:  This is just one of the possible uses of Uber’s latest proposed 1.5 billion funding round.  They have to be aware of their dependence on Google for maps … which could get dicey should Google move ahead with it’s rumored project with driverless cars and start competing with Uber by moving people around.

Over 50 And Getting A Lift Driving For Lyft

The Sum and Substance: Earlier this year, ridesharing tech giant Uber released a study …  Perhaps the most interesting statistic to come out of the survey, though, was the fact that more Uber drivers are over 50 than under 30. … … we spoke with Susan Johnston, 56, who drives for Lyft …

My Take:  I found this statistic quite surprising.  As a 66 year old driver, I’ve found the opportunity to get a window into the world of the younger generation quite inspiring and sometimes concerning.  It’s great to see their energy and creativity, but I worry how long they can sustain their crazy lifestyles and imbalanced work schedules.

Lyft Driver’s Passion Project Gives Passengers Handwritten, Heartfelt Notes 

The Sum and Substance: Lyft Driver’s Passion Project Gives Passengers Handwritten, Heartfelt Notes …

My Take:  I like this idea so much I think I’m going to try it as an embellishment of my book:  Travels With Vanessa.   It sets a positive tone for the ride and creates an archive of your trips and passengers.

Uber, Lyft drivers find chauffeuring comes with another role: therapist

The Sum and Substance: 29-year-old Chen, an IBM employee by day, started driving nights and weekends for Lyft, the ride-hailing company, and turned into an accidental chauffeur for the lovelorn. Now he consoles the jilted. Advises the dateless. Gives out tissues. …

My Take: I’ve been amazed how freely passengers are willing to share their stories – some very personal.  In some ways, the trip in the car is one of the last places in our culture where people can talk openly about what’s on their mind, especially if they know they’ll never see you again.

I was an undercover Uber driver

Sum and Substance: Many drivers worried about getting in trouble, too — Uber can “deactivate” a driver for any reason. I needed someone on the record, someone whose data I knew I could trust. So, in January, I applied to be an UberX driver myself. I honestly didn’t expect to be approved. … A couple weeks later, I got a text: I was in.

My Take:  Good read … especially for us drivers …

Sidecar now delivers medical marijuana thanks to partnership with ‘Uber for weed’ startup Meadow

Sum and Substance: When asked if he thought Sidecar would be delivering weed in its third year of existence, Sunil Paul lets out a huge laugh.“No,” he said, chuckling. Yet today, his company will begin to do exactly that: Deliver medical marijuana to patients around San Francisco thanks to a new partnership with fellow Bay Area startup Meadow. Sidecar and Meadow, a year-old company that just graduated from Y Combinator, have teamed up for a unique partnership that will provide customers marijuana delivery in under one hour.

My Take:  I got an inside look at this aspect of the driving business when I gave a Lyft to a medical marijuana delivery guy based in LA.  This is definitely one of the more fantastical aspects of this business – like the time this guy delivered pot to a customer sitting beside his pool dressed up as a gorilla.

-John @ RSG