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Uber CEO: New funding may mean 'record-breaking' valuation

At the Recode Conference, Travis Kalanick said Uber is raising money, but played coy when asked if he would sell to Google.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick at LeWeb 2013
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick at LeWeb 2013 Stephen Shankland/CNET

RANCHO PALOS VERDES, Calif. -- Uber is raising money, and it could be looking at a huge valuation, CEO Travis Kalanick said today.

Speaking at the Recode conference here on Wednesday, Kalanick said that the private car service company is currently raising money and that as a result, its valuation "could be record breaking." To date, Uber has raised $307.5 million in three funding rounds, according to Crunchbase.

But despite the fact that Kalanick said he loves the idea of self-driving cars "all day long," he played coy when asked whether he would support selling Uber to Google, which yesterday unveiled its own model of driverless car.

"You're asking a happily-married man who his next wife is going to be," Kalanick responded, jokingly. "When you're in love, it doesn't matter where you go. It's always fun."

Still, Kalanick did acknowledge that some day, Uber may have to convert to a fleet of self-driving vehicles since that's where progress and technology are going. "That's the way of the world," Kalanick said. "We all have to change."

If Uber were to operate such a fleet, of course, it would mean a lot of drivers would be out of a job. But that would also likely mean cheaper fares for users since, he said, much of the cost of a ride is the passenger "paying for the other dude in the car." He added, "The magic that could be there (with self-driving cars) is that you bring the cost" of rides down.

Kalanick touched on a number of other issues, including the fact that Uber has inked a non-exclusive deal to figure out how to preload its app on as many as 50 million AT&T phones. "It's a broad partnership," he said, "about what you think...a next-generation carrier does."

He also explained that as Uber tries to move into more markets, it is finding itself having to adopt political strategies to overcome resistance from some cities that have yet to understand or approve Uber's business model. Since the company was founded in 2009 in San Francisco, it has expended into 70 cities worldwide. But it wants an even bigger geographical footprint.

"We need what I call the Uber campaign manager," Kalanick said. "It's got to be the best campaign manager in the world. We're talking to folks who have run presidential campaigns, who have run mayoral campaigns. Who know the grit of how cities run."