SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Five years after launching their revolutionary ridesharing app, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick hailed the company’s successes, but did not address speculation of the startup having an initial public offering of stock.
“In the last five years, people from every corner of the world have said yes to this kind of future. Yes to innovation over the status quo. Yes to more jobs. Yes to getting rid of traffic and yes to cleaner air,” Kalanick told attendees. “And my hope for the next five years is very simple. That thousands more cities, we’re only 300 in, will allow the people who live there to make this same choice.”
Uber started in San Francisco in 2010, with an app that allows people to very conveniently hail, not a cab, but a private driver. It quickly became successful, available now in 311 cities in 58 countries.
“Business Insider recently pointed out that it took Facebook 5 years to get to a valuation of $15 billion. And here Uber is after 5 years, valued privately at $50 billion,” said KCBS Radio financial reporter Jason Brooks.
But Uber has also had some serious public relations messes. An Uber driver is accused of killing a kindergartner in a San Francisco crosswalk. Another driver is accused of hitting a passenger with a hammer. Taxi drivers from several countries have angrily protested the encroachment of their market.
“They’ve had offices raided in several countries including China, France, the Netherlands, South Korea,” Brooks said. “Many countries have laws banning their ride-sharing apps. So while uber is growing quickly, it’s running into a lot of obstacles.”
Rumors of the IPO, which have been swirling for moths, ticked up late last month when The Wall Street Journal reported that the company was seeking a $1 billion line, seen by many as an indicator of plans to go public.
Earlier this week, the company invited members of the media to a special address marking the company’s five-year anniversary, while “reflecting on the past five years and looking ahead to the future.”
Some journalists had hoped this would provide more clarity on the timeline for the IPO, but Kalanick did not tip his hand during the appearance at the Market St. gathering.
In conjunction with the anniversary, Uber has been offering freebies this week for San Francisco users. On Monday, some passengers were picked up in a Lamborghini wile others got a ride on a trolley car. On Wednesday, the company was treating random riders to a 10-course meal at a local restaurant.