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A billion here, a billion there: Uber rakes in some fresh moolah

You know investors seriously love your company when they start throwing billions of dollars at you. Want to know what that feels like? Just ask on-demand private company Uber, which today confirmed that it had raised a massive US$1.2-billion from a group of mutual fund managers and venture investors.

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The latest round of funding means that the disruptive company is now worth around US$17-billion, a fact that will probably fuel speculation that it’s well on its way to going public.

According to TechCrunch, the funding round might actually still grow to US$1.4-billion once Uber’s completed a second close of strategic investors.

The funding round is significantly larger than the US$258-million it raised from Google Ventures back in August 2013 and is a sure-fire sign that the company’s rapid growth curve is no accident.

With the company operating in 128 cities in 37 countries around the world it seems unlikely to slow down any time soon either.

That substantial international presence also gives it a distinct advantage over other on-demand ride companies such as Lyft, which recently raised US$250-million itself.

Another factor in Uber’s favour is the fact that it’s launched a plethora of new products in its four years of existence. Some, like Uber Ice Cream and the offer of helicopter rides out of New York city one summer were probably designed more to provide publicity than any real revenue but there’s no denying the fact that they’ve been effective.

It also doesn’t hurt that it’s been given tons of free publicity in its legal battles with taxi and cab associations around the globe.

In an official blog post giving an overview of Uber’s achievements in the past four years, founder Travis Kalanick says that the company is now responsible for “directly creating 20 000 new jobs per month…while also improving the environment, reducing DUI rates and fueling urban economic development”.

While there’s plenty of scope for Uber to move into areas other than moving people around, especially given its logistical know-how, for now there’s no indication of that happening.

“This ‘Uber’ way of life, says Mason, “is really a reflection of our mission to turn ground transportation into a seamless service and to enable a transportation alternative in cities that makes car ownership a thing of the past”.

So, what have you achieved in the past four years?

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