Uber had a $1.2 billion funding round, but please don’t think it’s worth $17 billion

It was the (single-biggest) funding round of all-time, surpassing Facebook from years ago, and it’s been confirmed on their official blog. The valuation is $17 billion, one of the largest tech start-up valuations ever, and it appears “the sharing economy” may be well ready to become “a thing.” The problem is, Uber has a ton of issues, from racial/cultural to legal. We know that sometimes, potential can mean more than actual achievement — and that can especially be true in business and valuation — but Uber likely isn’t worth $17 billion at this stage. But it could be, and the crux of it becoming that massive of a valuation is whether it can shift (“pivot”) to become more of a logistics provider — essentially becoming something as central to mobility as Facebook is to keeping in touch. There’s a legitimate chance this could happen, which begs the question: should Google just buy Uber and roll it up with the emergence of self-driving cars? That’s a bit ludicrous since Uber cars are driven by people, but the idea of a partnership has been floated before. (A large chunk of Uber’s money comes from Google Ventures.)

Bottom line: if you’re making a quick list of “things that will dominate the future,” the current list would probably need to include “big data,” “local social,” “employee engagement models,” and “the sharing economy.” Of course, that list could change in three months almost completely.

Ted Bauer