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Uber's year of prosperity and controversy

Uber had a tumultuous 2014. Here's a look at its biggest ups and downs -- from becoming the highest-valued venture-backed company in the world to #Ubergate.

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Ride-sharing service Uber was at the center of a flurry of controversies in 2014. Uber

It was a doozy of a year for ride-sharing service Uber. Flush with cash and an in-your-face attitude, the 5-year-old ride-sharing service went from nascent startup to one of the most talked about tech companies.

Few companies pulled off the torrid pace of growth and rapid ascent in valuation of a young, hot start-up better than Uber -- which is a service that pairs passengers with drivers via a smartphone app. At the same time, few others made a more ideal target of the growing backlash against technology and Silicon Valley. Over the course of 2014, the San Francisco-based company raised more than $2.4 billion in funding, giving it a valuation of at least $41.2 billion. But it wasn't a smooth ride for Uber, which was at the center of several controversies.

The company kicked off the year with the sobering news that one of its drivers allegedly struck and killed a 6-year-old girl in San Francisco, which brought a lawsuit from her family and concerns about the safety of the service. Throughout the year, several other cases of alleged assault, rape and kidnapping plagued the company.

Uber was also the target of drivers claiming unfair treatment, passengers complaining of a secretive rating system and regulators vying to shut the ride-sharing service down. And it wasn't just in the US -- cities around the world worked to ban the service. Uber also continued to war with its ride-sharing rivals and the taxi industry.

To top it all off, Uber got a heap of bad PR toward the end of the year after a top executive said he would like to spend $1 million to "dig up dirt" on the company's critics in the media, while another executive admitted he tracked a journalist without her knowledge. The whole debacle was dubbed #Ubergate.

With this constant stream of conflict, Uber dominated the news this year -- making headlines 30,528 times, according to data from Trendkite. For comparison, rival Lyft had 3,796 mentions.

In uncharacteristic humility, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said in December that the company is going through "significant growing pains" and these missteps are driving it to become "smarter and more humble."

Here are Uber's top 10 ups and downs for 2014.