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We Can Invest in Uber Before Its IPO

Too many people view taxi service as nothing more than a pedestrian, everyday type of business.

Those people would be very wrong.

It's actually a complicated, multi-billion dollar sector that right now is going through perhaps the most profound changes of any business model in the United States.

Indeed, this revolution is moving the industry from its original days of horse-drawn carriages to the age of global positioning systems (GPS) in automobiles.

The biggest name in the revolution is, of course, Uber, whose mobile cab service app is turning the taxi-for-hire model on its head, all while waiting for a much anticipated IPO.

But right now there's another way to play on Uber's success and future, with a well-known company that's going to surprise you….

Uber Has Disrupted the Industry Model Forever

If ever there was an industry ripe for high-tech disruption it would have to be taxicabs.

Here's the thing: The first known use of taxis for hire involved horse-drawn carriages in England more than 400 years ago.

Today, many taxis use autos equipped with GPS and other high-tech gadgets, a quantum leap from its humble beginnings. And yet, despite all these taxicab advances, many critics argue that when it comes to providing fast service, not much has changed in the past 400 years.

But that all got turned 180 degrees when Uber was founded in 2009, and its mobile app was launched in 2010 in San Francisco.

Think of Uber as a digital chauffeur service. Users simply tap on the Uber app and find drivers in the area who are willing to drive them to their destinations for a small fee.

Ironically, Uber has made headlines lately not because of its innovation, but because of what many investors believe is the startup's sky-high valuation.

After recently receiving $1.2 billion in additional venture funding, Uber is now worth some $18.2 billion.

But let's not get bogged down in debating just how much Uber will eventually be worth if it does in fact have a successful IPO.

Fact is, Uber represents the disruption of a centuries-old global industry, and the result of its technology is a staggering revenue growth model that merits a closer look.

Uber Is on Track for $1 Billion in Revenue

Uber is a company with a very simple concept but with huge financial opportunities.

See, the company uses data mapping software to create what amounts to an electronic exchange that links potential passengers with drivers who are willing to give rides for a fee.

The robust technology is a vast improvement over what any one cab company could hope to emulate.

Hence the company's slogan: Everyone's private driver.

This app's power derives from the fact that it can identify as many as a dozen drivers a short distance from the person who needs a ride.

People who use this service rave about it to anyone who will listen. On Apple's App Store, Uber earns a five-star rating with headlines like "Best car service in the world!!!"

Make no mistake, the company faces a bright future. The New York Times estimates that if the company could grab half of the taxi market share in the United States, it will generate more than $1 billion in yearly sales.

And that figure doesn't include the 36 other countries the firm currently serves. Nor does it include the potential for selling other services later.

What's more, Uber's leaders say the firm's sales, which TechCrunch recently pegged at $213 million for fiscal 2013, have been doubling every six months – a compound annual growth rate of nearly 145%!

But Uber offers an even more intriguing long-term play: a direct tie to an even newer technology – robotic chauffeurs – being developed at the same time at another high-tech company.

So while all the fuss today is focused directly on Uber's valuation and IPO dates, we've found a unique back-door way to play this robot-centric technology with a familiar name that shares some critical ties to Uber…

Join the conversation. Click here to jump to comments…

About the Author

Michael A. Robinson is one of the top financial analysts working today. His book "Overdrawn: The Bailout of American Savings" was a prescient look at the anatomy of the nation's S&L crisis, long before the word "bailout" became part of our daily lexicon. He's a Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer and reporter, lauded by the Columbia Journalism Review for his aggressive style. His 30-year track record as a leading tech analyst has garnered him rave reviews, too. Today he is the editor of the monthly tech investing newsletter Nova-X Report as well as Radical Technology Profits, where he covers truly radical technologies – ones that have the power to sweep across the globe and change the very fabric of our lives – and profit opportunities they give rise to. He also explores "what's next" in the tech investing world at Strategic Tech Investor.

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  1. Michael | June 27, 2014

    Why would anyone invest in this pyramid scheme ?

    Uber as an offshore-based private corporation pays no local taxes, no municipal
    business permits, no regulatory fees. All that is 100% municipal revenue taken away.

    In essence – this offshore corporation is in the business of plunder and theft.
    What was municipal millions – now flows to Uber's offshore bank accounts.

    And what about thousands of small business taxicab offering their own apps ?
    Should each aop and website be valued in billions too?

    The Enron of transportation has arrived – and it needs people to buy into the
    upcoming IPO.

    Good luck with that.

    • John | June 29, 2014

      Uber is neither "offshore" or a "pyramid scheme". And as for plunder and theft? That's exactly what taxi cabs have been doing for years with their overpriced inefficient service run by criminals. The world is waking up and adjusting towards a fair cost for service. Ever hear of the free market?

    • Christopher | June 29, 2014

      Some just invest others think before bying. Unfortunately the last are loosers
      Thaksin for your comment
      Copenhagen, Denmark

  2. Bill | June 29, 2014

    Not only that, but, if I read right, ANYONE in the area can offer to accept payment for a ride? Who are these generous benefactors? What "qualifications" do they have to take you where you are going? What is their criminal background?
    How safe are you (from being mugged or even murdered?).
    Many countries require people who offer rides "for hire or reward" to be registered and vetted; who is vetting these people?
    If you do get mugged or murdered are Uber going to accept the blame (after all, they are the ones who put you in contact, so would have some culpability in the issue?). I can see all the multi-million dollar lawsuits already – in fact, if I was a lawyer, I would be gearing up right now for it!
    How soon before the criminal element realise they're on to a relatively easy form of picking here?
    There is no such thing as a free/cheap ride – you will be taken!

    • Alice Lamm | July 5, 2014

      What's the deal with anyone with a license picking up passengers for a fee, I always thought that you needed to have a chauffer's license to drive people for a fee. At least you did when I was in New York.

  3. 000059055672 | June 30, 2014

    Indeed! The free, cheep ride you say? Only when compared with the rip off, over rated ride of a cab. Goodness, have you been in a Yellow Taxi, New York, or how about those great cabs in Toronto, Canada? Jeepers! Old cop cars, at best, perhaps repainted, with interiors of plastic coated seats, bullet proof glass separators, a driver that looks high on pot of, perhaps, the other cab driver, who is over alert and packin' waiting for that opportunity to become a hero! Yup, that's the car I want! Heck, why does anyone even want a normal ride someplace, with normal drivers, anyways? Jeepers, why get into a real car, with real cloth seats or real leather seats? Nope, that's just too damn boring? Anyways?

    • Brad | July 2, 2014

      Your response to the comment from 000059055672 was very sarcastic, even though his/her comments were very normal. So in other words, I could have a driver come pick me up that is drunk and stoned, because no one is regulating this thing. That doesn't sound like a legitimate concern to you????

  4. Marcus Johnson | November 19, 2014

    I really question all the negative press and comments on social media regarding Uber.
    They are an upstart company competing with big guys in an industry notorious for using dirty tricks, (including using the media).

  5. Charles brooks | April 7, 2015

    Just want to get in on the convo

  6. azar | April 21, 2015

    I think Uber is a great idea and a put many good professional unemployed people who like to drive and get paid for it to work and earn income. It is much safer than taxi's since the driver is identified , has good insurance, car is safe and mostly luxury with passed inspection report. Once you pick up a rider car gets additional commercial insurance automatically for rider safety. It is much more efficient and safer than smelly and rude cab drivers with rip off charge. It drives by the map and rider could see where the car is going so it does not take the longest way to get there like must cab drivers do.
    I love uber, it was done in middle east by private cars picking up passengers on the street for money but this is more safe and quicker since driver and rider are both identified and drive according to map guide. Go Uber.

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