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Uber holds out hand, hails another $1bn – mostly from Microsoft

'Strategic' funding round said to be about 'partnerships'

Unlicensed taxi service Uber has plumped up its war chest with another $1bn, with much of the latest funding round reportedly coming from Microsoft.

Citing anonymous sources, The New York Times reports that Redmond contributed "a substantial amount" of the $1bn, which brings the car app firm's total valuation close to $51bn.

San Francisco–based Uber's coffers have been swelling rapidly. As recently as last December it was valued at $41bn, meaning it has scooped up another $10bn in just the last seven months. Seven months before that its value was estimated at $17bn.

The new funding reportedly makes Uber the world's most valuable startup, surpassing the $45bn reached by Chinese smartphone startup Xiaomi in December.

In a separate report, the Wall Street Journal said another major investor in the latest funding round was Bennett Coleman and Company, the parent company of the Times Group, an Indian media conglomerate that operates The Times of India, The Economic Times, and a number of regional newspapers.

Earlier this week, Uber's India arm said the company had committed $1bn specifically toward expanding its operations in the subcontinent, where it faces stiff competition from rival cab-hailing service Ola. Uber is also investing in growing its presence in Southeast Asia and in China, which also has homegrown taxi-hailing apps.

Microsoft's investment in Uber is a new twist, however, and given that the details of the fundraising are not public, its motives are unknown. Neither Microsoft nor Uber would comment.

This isn't the first time the software giant has had dealings with Uber, though. In June, Redmond sold off parts of its Bing Maps unit to the dial-a-car company for an undisclosed sum, in a deal that included around 100 staffers to run it.

For Redmond to lob a fat wad of cash Uber's way would seem to indicate that the two companies plan some kind of collaboration, although no specific plans have been announced.

In May, however, a source told the NYT that unlike earlier funding rounds, Uber's latest round would be "strategic, with an eye on partnerships." ®

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