The Information recently published a valuable report on the market shares of different car and taxi hailing services in different countries. It’s behind a paywall so you’ll need to subscribe to The Information to read it.
The report includes the monthly active users of each player as a percentage of the total number of panel participants in that country. The data is collected from a total of 2M Android phone users so it’s limited by the fact that it doesn’t include all smartphone users in each country (Uber may have a greater share among higher end iOS users), but it’s a good first approximation.
Basically, the report shows that Uber lags the market leader in each of Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Russia, Greece, Romania, India, China, Israel, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam. Although not featured in the report, the same is true in Turkey where Bitaksi leads Uber.
Uber is a heavily operational business. It requires extensive field operations practices to attract drivers, localized features to appeal to passengers, and different regulatory approaches to succeed in each country. This is very different than cloud-based businesses like Facebook and Twitter that can grow in new countries without needing a local team on the ground. As a result, far from seeing them as failures, we need to applaud Uber’s second and third place positioning in so many different countries.
However, we also need to keep in mind that car and taxi hailing are marketplace businesses. As a result, they’re likely to demonstrate winner-take-most-if-not-all characteristics at the country level. And this means that Uber may not capture as much value in non-US markets as some people, and investors, seem to believe.
I don’t know Uber’s detailed current financials. If the company’s ever-increasing valuation (rumored to most recently be approaching the $60 to $70 billion range) can be justified by Uber substituting for car ownership in the US, it may be realistic. But if it’s based on Uber becoming the market leader in many non-US markets, I would be skeptical.