It’s hard to believe that on-demand ride service Uber is less than four years old. Launched in San Francisco in 2010, the company has expanded aggressively over the last several years. Today, the company announced a major milestone: With its launch in Beijing, Uber is now available in 100 different cities around the world.
Uber started out as a way for San Franciscans to hail a black car with your mobile phone, and spent about a year exclusively in that market refining its service. Its next step was launching in New York City, a place with a pretty good transportation system and ample supply of taxis.
Over time, Uber continued to take an unconventional approach to its expansion. As Uber head of global operations Ryan Graves reminded me today, the company’s first international launch wasn’t in London, which would have made sense due to common language, but Paris.
And it’s increasingly making its service available in places that don’t fit the usual framework of a large urban center like Tokyo or Berlin. That’s evident with the launch of Uber in smaller cities like Sacramento, or Fresno, or Oklahoma City. The success it’s seen in those cities shows that Uber probably works just about anywhere.
“Even in tiny cities we’re finding that we’re reaching levels of liquidity where Uber makes sense,” Graves told me. “That really opens up the world to us.”
According to Graves, about half of Uber’s current markets are in the Americas, with 30 percent in EMEA and 20 percent in Asia/Pacific. And of the company’s 850 employees, 250 are international. But it’s only a matter of time before its international presence is bigger than its U.S. footprint.
“The question of ‘Does uber work everywhere?’ has been answered,” Graves said. Now it’s just a matter of taking Uber to all those places.