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Uber pulls in another $32M for app-based car service

Menlo, Bezos, Goldman, Benchmark see the value in personal car service for anyone with a phone

Technology trends and news by Krystal Peak
December 7, 2011 | Comments
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/2266

The sleek and convenient car service mobile app, Uber, has welcomed its 18 month in operation with an additional $32 million in Series B funding on Wednesday.

The Menlo Ventures led round with participation from Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Goldman Sachs and Benchmark Capital brings the company's total at near $44.5 million.

The new injection of funding was announced at the Internet conference in Paris, Le Web, by the company's CEO Travis Kalanick.

The substantial $32 million round also maintains the option to extend up to $39 million through a second tranche, Kalanick said at the event.

Uber is an application that allows users to request a black car from their mobile devices and will text you when the car arrives. Once the car drops you off, your card is automatically charged, including the tip.

Kalanick told attendees at Le Web that he and Co-founder Garrett Camp first solidified the concept for Uber in while in Paris three years ago -- but it was only on Wednesday that the service finally made the full circle and launched European operations in Paris on Wednesday (with 60 cars in its operation.)

The San Francisco start-up service is available as a free application and has services in San Francisco/Palo Alto, New York, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, Washington D.C. and now Paris.

Kalanick spoke with me from Paris this morning and explained his excitement about his company's upcoming expansion.

"We think that the luxury should be available to anyone that desires the ease," Kalanick told Vator. He also joked that he was using his own service on this rainy day in Paris. "The only time I don't use our service is when we are in tight supply. I want our customers to have the convienience."

"It’s a service that brings pleasure, magic and efficiency to the world, giving you your time back and letting you spend it with people you love, rather than dealing with petty inconveniences. Uber is about freedom and convenience," Shervin Pishevar, investor at Menlo Ventures, said in a statement. Pishevar is joining the company's board as a board observer.


Uber partners with black car/limo service companies to provide their services that usually run 50-75% pricer than a standard taxi. Uber's business model is to take a percentage of the transportation fee.

The fees when the car is traveling more than 11 mph are based on distance and below that speed the ride is charged on time.

While Uber doesn't disclose the number of customers it services monthly, Kalanick did tell me that the average patron of the service is spending more than $100 per month and spans a broad age range of 25-55 years old.

The goal of the Uber founders is to create a better personal transportation option for people in big cities that rely on multiple options to get them around, especially when the company touts an average wait time of five to 10 minutes.

Other similar applications exist but for taxi services that go to general dispatch, not personal car services. Magic Taxi is a common application used in cities like San Francisco. The app is best used when a traveler doesn't want to stay on hold with one or more taxi companies, instead it gives your location and pings you with an estimated time for a cab and pings again upon the taxi's arrival.

Uber's service is more in line with business users that are familiar with car service rates and are booking based on comfort and convenience, not price.

Currently the service is available over Web browser, iPhone Android and can translate to phones reliant upon text messaging.

 

Image Source -- Bellevue-towncar.com


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