Mobile app car service Uber is starting to look like a lifestyle brand

Uber is starting to look like a lifestyle brand

By JP Mangalindan, Writer July 23, 2013: 6:37 PM ET

The rapidly expanding car service is trying to expand its mission.

FORTUNE — Ask Travis Kalanick about the future of Uber, and he’ll tell you that it has become a brand that transcends its original mission. “Today, we’re in the business of delivering cars,” Kalanick said onstage at this year’s Brainstorm Tech conference. In the year-and-a-half sinceFortune profiled Kalanick, Uber has rapidly expanded into new markets, despite regulatory hiccups in cities like Washington D.C. and New York. But the serial entrepreneur, who previously cut his teeth on startups like the file-sharing service Red Swoosh in the early 2000s, also pointed out Uber has dabbled — and continues to do dabble — in other services. Last Friday, Uber worked with ice cream trucks and served up on-demand dessert in 33 cities; this Valentine’s Day, it delivered rose bouquets. And at previous South by Southwest conferences, the startup served up barbecue in a similar fashion. (The latter wasn’t much of hit however, something Kalanick told Fortune that had more to do with cold weather.)His point: Uber is more than just a car service app. Kalanick said he has held informal discussions with a large e-commerce company about utilizing drivers’ downtime to potentially enable same-day delivery of goods. Explained Kalanick: “If somebody goes, Travis, you’ve got this great lifestyle brand. When are you going to do concierge services?  Or when are you going to do hotels?  And I’m like, we’re not going to do hotels because we’re not delivering a hotel building to you, right?  So we know what we are. But maybe we do like Uber camper or something, like we’ll bring a camper to you — no, I’m just kidding.”

Judging from the conference attendees, Kalanick and Uber are having a moment. The vast majority of people watching the conversation in a packed main-stage tent raised their hands when asked by moderator Jessi Hempel who used the service.

Uber’s CEO also remained mum on the firm’s finances. Uber is currently raising another round of funding at a rumored $2.5 billion valuation. He admitted the fundraising process was in progress, but demurred the stratospheric valuation. “Our numbers are really, really good,” Kalanick said finally. “And the multiples that you see in the public market are around companies that are growing like 50% or 40%.  You could take their price-to-sales ratios and we could come in — well, shoot, I’m getting stuck. Shit.” And the room exploded with laughter.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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