Uber raises $1.2bn for China expansion

Uber has raised $1.2bn for its expansion into China, according to an interview with its chief executive, Travis Kalanick, published by Sina, a Chinese-language website.

Reports were confirmed by TechCrunch, which said the unfinished funding round was led by the search-engine company Baidu.

Uber, which was expected to make an official announcement later on Sunday, did not respond to a Guardian request for comment.

UberChina is expected to be valued at $8bn. The company already operates in 11 Chinese cities, but would reportedly like to see that number increase by 50 in a year.

In a letter obtained by the Financial Times in June, Kalanick told investors that Uber’s Chinese riders were completing almost a million trips a day.

“This kind of growth is remarkable and unprecedented. To put it frankly, China represents one of the largest untapped opportunities for Uber, potentially larger than the US,” he wrote.

“Success in China, however, takes commitment over the long haul and a strong will, coupled with a unique understanding of the differences in China.”

To accomplish this, Kalanick said, the company would build out local teams and partnerships.

Under the heading “China Expansion”, one Uber careers web page advertises “launcher” jobs.

“As part of an elite team of Launchers charged with expanding our presence in new markets across the globe, you will play a large, direct role in allowing us to realize that vision,” the page reads.

“At base, this job entails being dropped into a city or country where Uber has zero brand and physical presence, quickly figuring out who and what make that city run, and then building a new business from scratch – in a matter of weeks – which sets Uber up for long-term success.”

In the letter obtained by the FT, Kalanick wrote that starting on 22 June, UberChina would formally launch a fundraising process and would “welcome participation from our existing investor base”.

Expansion into China has not been smooth for Uber. In May, police visited the company’s offices in Chengdu and Guangzhou. Uber said these were “routine” visits, but in August five drivers were arrested in Hong Kong for “illegal use of vehicles for hire”. They were later released on bail.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Jana Kasperkevic in New York, for theguardian.com on Monday 7th September 2015 22.20 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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