There is no longer a reason to call Uber a "unicorn." It has proven its position as one of the most successful private companies in the world. The company recently announced its billionth ride-sharing trip.
Uber's value has been pegged as high as $70 billion, and it has raised as much as $8 billion to continue its expansion. The money seems to be a wise investment.
In a blog post, management wrote about that billionth trip:
Marvin and Ara just made our day. Their £5 London uberX ride together on Christmas Eve from London Fields, Hackney to Hoxton in Ara’s blue Honda Insight Hybrid was the billionth Uber trip.
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One billion. That’s a whole lot of riders and drivers sharing the road, special moments, and celebrations together. Certainly far more than we ever imagined when we got started in San Francisco five and a half years ago.
This holiday season, we’re feeling grateful and festive crossing this milestone as we close out the year. For riding their way into our history books, we’re putting one year’s worth of free rides in rider Marvin’s stocking and our driver-partner Ara will be taking a vacation on us to the Uber city of his choice.'
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Uber's primary challenge is to overcome being blocked from a number of countries and cities that could be important to its future expansion. These include France, parts of Germany and Brussels, as well as Rio de Janeiro.
Uber's limitations are not entirely unlike those faced by Alphabet Inc.'s (GOOGL) Google search engine. While it dominated and still dominates in a number of countries, including the United States and throughout Europe, it has had little luck breaking into Russia, China and India. There have long been suspicions that local governments have undermined progress of the search company. This is particularly true in China.
Uber will need to hurdle its Google-like problem to grow into its valuation. In the meantime, a billion is an extraordinary number. The ride service is not going away.