Uber's Asian rollout is coming quicker than I think anyone could have expected. Less than a week after announcing that it was going to be starting tests in Seoul, South Korea, Uber is launching in its third Asian city in six months.
The e-hailing service is now in stealth mode in Taipei, the capital city of Taiwan, the company announced in a blog post on Friday.
"We knew that Taipei would be on the short-list for Uber Asia. Hot food, hot nightlife, hot people, and now, hot transportation to match. From the real-deal night markets to Taipei 101, Uber is officially here to get you there in style," Candice Lo, International Launcher at Uber, wrote.
Much like the rollout in Seoul, Uber kicked things off by offering a ride to an a couple of Asian celebrities.
In Seoul it was soccer star, and 2012 Olympic Bronze Medalist, Koo Ja-Cheol. For Taipei it was actually two: Lisa Wang, a TV host and actress, who used the service after a day of filming; and Alex, aka ‘Ai Li Ke Si,' who is also described as an actor and TV host.
Uber has already released the rates for Taipei, which will include a base fare NT$126, with an extra NT$30 for every kilometer over 18 km per hour, and NT$16.50 for each one under 18 km per hour. The minimum fare is NT$230, and Uber will be charging a NT$200 cancellation fee.
Uber will also be charging a flat rate of NT$1,800 between TPE Airport and Taipei.
In addition, just like it did for Seoul, Uber is offering a limited time code for first-time users. If a user in Taipei uses the code “UBERTAIPEI” before July 14th they will get NT$500 off their first ride.
The service will remain in "stealth mode" in the city for the next few weeks.
Uber also announced that it is looking to hire a General Manager for Taipei, and that it is looking for someone "who has a crazy passion for Uber, an intimate knowledge of Taipei, and is a natural-born leader."
I can only speculate as to why Uber seems so keen to rollout its service quickly in Asia, but I suspect that it feels that it will not run into the types of regulatory and legal problems that it has faced in so many American cities, including New York and Washington D.C.
Founded in March 2009, the San Francisco-based Uber has operations in Amsterdam, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, the Hamptons, London, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York City, Paris, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Sydney, Toronto and Washington D.C.
Uber raised a $32 million Series B in December, led by Menlo Ventures, with participation from Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Goldman Sachs and Benchmark Capital, bringing its total raised to around $45 million.
(Image source: http://blog.uber.com)