An 18$bn valuation for Uber taxi app looks absurd

Drivers of black cabs are up in arms about US taxi app Uber.

Some plan to protest in central London. Meanwhile, the high court must decide if the service is breaking the law by using a smartphone app as a meter. The rest of us can watch, baffled, as Uber is valued at $18bn (£10.7bn) in its latest fund-raising, the likely prelude to a flotation.

The price looks absurd for a business that reportedly generated revenues of just $200m from $1bn of bookings last year. As ever, the financial gymnastics are predicated on the breezy assumption that Uber will be able to replicate early success in the US in almost every major city around the globe.

Taxi-summoning apps are indeed likely to have global appeal, but the notion that Uber will be allowed to enjoy a virtual monopoly looks questionable. If taxi drivers are willing to surrender 20% of their fees, there will be competition, because there are plenty of talented software designers in the world. It is very hard to believe the leader in this market, whoever it turns out to be, will be able to hang on to a 20% cut of the action.

Powered by article was written by Nils Pratley, for The Guardian on Tuesday 10th June 2014 20.27 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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