TRAVIS Kalanick, the confrontational chief executive of Uber, talks of being in 500 cities in the next few years.
The company’s huge growth potential explains why it has attracted backers like Goldman Sachs and Google and was valued at $18.2bn during a recent fundraising. Jo Bertram, who heads the business in the UK, Ireland and Nordics, told The Yorkshire Post: “There are still many other cities around the world where people would benefit, both riders and drivers, from having Uber.”
In the US, the technology firm is experimenting with new on-demand services such as bike couriers in New York, cornershop deliveries in Washington and fresh salad in Los Angeles.
Asked where Uber might be in a decade’s time, Ms Bertram said: “The journey to date has taken us from an idea that our founders had for San Francisco four and a half years ago to now being in something like 223 cities in 45 countries around the world.
“I don’t think anyone envisaged on that year one where we would be today. It’s really hard to think that far ahead.
“It is a very fast-moving sector and Uber is a very fast-moving company that can react very quickly to technology trends.”
As well as angering incumbents by disrupting their trade, Uber has also faced criticism over its tax arrangements, a frequent complaint against US technology firms.
Ms Bertram insisted that the company is fully compliant with tax legislation in all its markets.
She said Uber’s use of credit card processing as opposed to cash brought transparency to an industry run by cash in which a large proportion of revenues may not be reported for tax.
Ms Bertram added that 80 per cent of the fare stays with the driver, who is paying taxes.
Mr Kalanick was this week honoured by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America for getting 5,000 veterans driving for Uber.
The company is headquartered in San Francisco.