Google backed limo hire firm Uber gears up for Dublin
Company is one of the hottest start-ups in the world with a valuation of $3.5 billion
A limousine driver holds up his iPhone displaying transportation app Uber – Uber has entered more than 60 markets, ranging from San Francisco to Berlin to Tokyo. Photograph: Reuters
The on-demand service, which connects passengers and drivers of luxury vehicles, is one-of the hottest start-ups in the world with a valuation of $3.5 billion (€2.57 billion).
It received $258 million in new funding last August from Google Ventures, the private equity arm of the internet search firm, and investment giant TPG to fund its international expansion.
Uber, which bills itself as “everybody’s private driver,” has a team currently on the ground in Dublin looking at the Irish market.
Anthony El-Khoury, whose job title is international launcher for Uber, told The Irish Times: “We see a lot of potential in the Irish market and a lot of demand.”
“Hopefully we will be making a decision very soon,” he added. “We don’t have a definitive launch date yet.” Mr El-Khoury said that despite not making a final decision to begin trading here, it had already begun hiring people.
“We are hiring in Dublin,” he said. “We always employ a general manager in any market, with an operations manager and a community manager too. Uber is a technology company but you need to have a local team too.”
Mr El-Khoury said Uber was looking at targeting the limousine market in Dublin initially but it would consider expanding into other cities over time. “We will expand depending on how the market is going but we will start in Dublin,” he said.
Uber has raised $400 million from investors to date and is in more than 60 markets, ranging from its hometown of San Francisco to Berlin, Tokyo and Dubai.
Uber has priced its luxury car and driver hire connection service so competitively that in some markets taxi companies have sued it to try and block its expansion. Uber takes bookings through its mobile app, and customers make cashless payments.
“Uber takes away the challenges of hiring a limousine,” El-Khoury said, “and makes it easier for everybody to do business.”
Uber was founded as UberCab by Garrett Camp and Travis Kalanick in 2009, before launching in 2010. Early investors include Benchmark Capital, Goldman Sachs, Menlo Ventures and Bezos Expeditions, an investment company owned by Amazon founder Mr Bezos.