Can Uber still be classed as a startup if CEO Travis Kalanick successfully creates 50,000 jobs across Europe this year? The company believes it can, but others aren't so sure.
Many of the world's largest technology companies, including Google and Facebook, still consider themselves to be startups in one sense or another. Indeed, they see being a startup as more of a state of mentality as opposed to how old the company is, how large its revenues are or how many staff it employs.
When asked if Uber is still a startup, a spokesperson for the company said: "I have not heard otherwise."
But Rishi Chowdhury, the entrepreneur behind Incubus Ventures, a startup incubator for people aged 18-25 that’s run out of a bus in Tech City, Tweeted: "It's 6 years old, it's figured out its service offered, who the customers are & makes money. So NO, it's not a startup!"
Mark Kember, a communications professional at Onebite, Tweeted: "Any company that has raised that much VC funding is effectively no longer a startup."
But Haris Edu, founder of PinU mobile app, which allows people to message friends when they're nearby, said that Uber is a startup because it's "still growing".
Max Tatton-Brown, who has written on tech startups for Wired and The Telegraph, said he thinks the term "scaleup" is appropriate in Uber's case. "So still startup growth philosophy but with resources to push," he said.
European growth plans
Speaking at the DLD tech conference in Munich on Sunday, Kalanick said Uber could create 50,000 jobs if it can forge partnerships in Europe. It's worth noting that nearly all of these jobs will be taxi driver positions as Uber only wants to hire 81 non-drivers in Europe, according to data analysis firm Silk.
Uber, now valued at $40 billion (£25.5 billion) and in 250 cities worldwide, has proved controversial in Europe with several courts banning it at both a regional and national level. For example, it was issued court injunctions in Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain, while it has also faced protests from taxi firms in major cities like London.
Meanwhile, a woman in India who was allegedly raped by an Uber driver is suing the San Francisco firm in US courts.
Kalanick acknowledged that a new set of regulations was needed to control smartphone taxi apps.
He said that Uber is talking with governments around the world in a bid to create rules that improve public safety, adding that Uber itself is developing new technology tools that will improve the driver-vetting process.
“We want to make 2015 the year when we establish a new partnership with Europe,” Kalanick said. "At the end of 2015, if we can make these partnerships happen, we create 50,000 new EU jobs."
"Uber wants to partner closely with tax authorities to increase transportation providers' compliance and overall tax revenue for cities and countries across Europe," he added.
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