By Tracey Lien
Los Angeles Times.
Having all but taken over the U.S. on-demand transportation market, Uber is now setting its sights on China.
In a letter to investors obtained by the Financial Times, Uber’s Chief Executive Travis Kalanick said China is now the top priority for the company’s global team, and the company plans to invest $1 billion this year in its operations in the region.
The figures detailed in the letter, which Uber has not yet verified, paint a picture of a booming business for the San Francisco company.
Uber reports making almost 1 million trips a day in its Chinese markets. The company also reports a remarkable growth rate in the region: After six months, the city of Chengdu was already 46 times larger (in terms of trips) than New York, which is Uber’s largest city outside of China and a four-year-old market.
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“To put it frankly, China represents one of the largest untapped opportunities for Uber, potentially larger than the U.S.,” Kalanick wrote.
The company currently operates in 11 Chinese cities, each with an average population of 14 million. The letter details plans to launch in an additional 50 cities this year, each with an average population of 5 million.
Uber is one of the most valuable private start-ups in the world, behind Chinese technology company Xiaomi, which was valued at $45 billion as of December 2014. If Uber successfully closes its much-discussed $1.5 billion funding round, it could be valued as much as $50 billion, putting it in the top spot.