If Uber floated on the London Stock Exchange tomorrow – don’t hold your breath – it would be the thirteenth largest FTSE 100 constituent. Its $40bn (£26.3bn) valuation is larger than that of Twitter ($24.7bn) or Adobe ($35bn).
News that Uber is exploring self-driving cars, mapping and vehicle safety shouldn’t surprise those who watch the company closely. It’s expanding its competency into adjacent fields that may, one day, compliment its core business.
Think Google in 2004. A search business rapidly experimenting with Gmail, Google Books and its popular Brazilian social network, Orkut.
Some of these projects became core businesses for Google, some limp on today as semi-supported projects, and Orkut was unceremoniously shut down last year.
Driverless cars will probably fall into one of the second two categories for Uber. Its real promise might instead come from trials in delivering more than just people.
UberRUSH, UberFRESH and UberESSENTIALS are all experiments to transport important documents, fresh food and corner shop goods, taking advantage of Uber’s huge inventory of drivers around the world.
An on-demand delivery service that delivers more than just people at a reasonable price – maybe that’s the real $40bn business that Uber’s investors are seeing.