Uber Raises Giant $1.2 Billion Funding Round At A $17 Billion Valuation

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On-demand ride-hailing service Uber has confirmed today that it has raised $1.2 billion in funding from a group of mutual fund managers and venture investors that values the company at $17 billion pre-money. The company said the total raise will end up being about $1.4 billion once it’s completed a second close of strategic investors.

New investors include Fidelity Investments, Wellington Management, and BlackRock Inc., according to the Wall Street Journal, with Summit Partners, Kleiner Perkins, Google Ventures, and Menlo Ventures also participating.

The valuation comes at a huge premium over its last raise, which happened just last summer. That funding round brought in $258 million from Google Ventures, and valued the company at around $3.4 billion. Altogether, the company has raised $1.5 billion since being founded in 2010.

The raise places it in an elite class, only Facebook has raised money at a higher valuation so far. And the valuation places it well above companies like Dropbox and Xiaomi in the $10 billion club.

But the size of the round also speaks to the pace of the company’s growth, and the larger business opportunity. Uber has been around for just four years, but it has grown rapidly in that short period of time. It’s now operating in 128 cities and 37 countries around the world, according its blog post.

In addition to expanding into new markets, Uber has also been adding new products and features over time. What began as a luxury app for hailing a black car — hence the tagline “Everyone’s private driver” — has morphed to offer lower-price, more accessible transportation in major metropolitan areas. In many markets its “UberX” fares are priced below the cost of a cab, and it’s looking to expand the low-cost option to more cities.

Uber is also experimenting with new services, like its UberRUSH courier service or its UberFAMILY child seat offerings in New York City. Based on the success of those programs, Uber could make those offerings available in additional markets.

After all, Uber has built a logistical framework for getting around various cities, there’s nothing to stop it from moving around things instead of just people.

For now though, Uber seems laser-focused on the local transportation problem, and has been looking to raise awareness and distribution through partnerships with some major players. It recently got integrated with Google Maps, enabling users of that mobile app to hail an Uber while searching for directions.

And last week, it announced a partnership with AT&T that would move drivers onto the mobile provider’s cell network, while also getting the Uber app pre-loaded on AT&T Android phones.

While Uber has grown rapidly, it has also seen increased competition from other transportation and logistics or delivery services. Earlier this year, ride-sharing startup Lyft raised an additional $250 million, matching the amount Uber had brought on the summer before. And there’s no shortage of local delivery services cropping up in metropolitan areas like New York City and San Francisco.

Still, based on its massive war chest and huge valuation, Uber is clearly the market leader in the space and will be tough to beat on a global level.