A leaked letter to investors from Uber reveals the company’s expansion in China is going very, very well.
In the letter, first obtained by The Financial Times, Travis Kalanick asks investors for more cash to fund further expansion in the country. To back up his appeal, he provides some stunning metrics on just how fast the ride-sharing service is growing.
Four of Uber’s 10 most popular cities are now in China, with Guanghzhou, Hangzhou, and Chengdu taking the top three spots. And cities are seeing far, far faster growth than launches did in equivalent cities around the world in the same timeframe. Nine months after launch, Uber is enjoying 479 times more trips in Chengdu than it saw in New York after the same length of time.
A graph included in the letter best illustrates just how meteoric Uber’s rise in China has been:
The above graph plots the number of monthly trips against months since launch for various cities across the globe. Red lines are Chinese cities, and blue lines are everywhere else. It shows a growth within the country unlike anything Uber has seen anywhere else in the world.
Even new cities not in China aren’t enjoying similar levels of growth. The short lighter blue lines indicate newer non-Chinese cities, and while they are growing faster than earlier launches did, it’s still nowhere on the same level.
Of course, it hasn’t all been plain sailing for Uber in China. In May, its Guangzhou offices were raided by the police. And drivers have previously been fined, and even had their vehicles confiscated, as the company disrupts the largely state-owned established taxi industry.
But the scale of the growth Uber is seeing makes it clear why the company isn’t being put off. Kalanick says that “to put it frankly, China represents one of the largest untapped opportunities for Uber, potentially larger than the US.”