Tech Industry

Uber to be valued at $50 billion in new funding round, say reports

The round could make the ride-hailing company the most valuable venture-funded startup ever.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. The company could become the most valuable venture-backed startup in history.
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. The company could become the most valuable venture-backed startup of all time. Getty Images

Car-hailing company Uber could soon become the most highly valued venture-backed startup in history.

That's according to The Wall Street Journal, which reported Friday night that Uber is planning to raise from $1.5 billion to $2 billion in new funds, at a value of $50 billion or more. The Journal's report draws its info from unnamed sources. It was followed by separate reports from Bloomberg and The New York Times, which also cite anonymous sources.

The only other Silicon Valley startup to be valued at $50 billion as a private company was Facebook, before its IPO in 2012, the Journal noted. In December, China-based smartphone maker Xiaomi raised $1.1 billion in venture capital funding, giving it a valuation of $45 billion and taking it past Uber, which earlier that month had announced a $1.2 billion funding round that valued it at about $40 billion.

Uber -- which lets people use a smartphone app to book rides from drivers who use their own cars -- will use the new funds for "strategic" purposes, including partnerships, the Times' source said. In February, Uber announced it was opening a research lab in consort with Carnegie Mellon University to study "autonomy technology," which could include tech for self-driving cars. Money could also go toward acquisitions -- earlier this week, the Times reported that Uber had submitted a bid of as much as $3 billion for Nokia-owned mapping service Here. Uber currently relies on Google Maps.

The new money and skyhigh valuation would come as tech startups are raking in the funding. More than 50 venture-backed startups in the US have hit a valuation of $1 billion or more in the last couple of years, according to New York researcher CB insights, making them, in Silicon Valley parlance, "unicorns." The flood of cash has some saying we're in a tech bubble like the dot-com boom of the late '90s.

"If you wake up in a room full of unicorns, you are dreaming and you can't expect the dream to continue," venture capitalist Todd Dagres told Bloomberg in March. But another tech insider told the news service that though 2014 saw VCs invest about $50 billion in startups -- the highest amount since 2000 -- that figure was about half what it was at the turn of the millennium.