Uber Technologies CEO Travis Kalanick said Sunday the ride-sharing service could create 50,000 new jobs across Europe this year and take 400,000 cars off the roads. "We want to make 2015 the year where we establish a new partnership with EU cities," Kalanick told the Digital Life Design conference in Munich, Germany. The conference is the largest annual confab of media and tech leaders.
Kalanick took a conciliatory tone in his remarks, Tech Crunch reported. He urged those attending the conference to "work with us" to solve Europe's employment and environmental problems. He said he hopes eventually the cost of taking Uber regularly will fall below the cost of owning a car.
Kalanick said his company has created thousands of full- and part-time jobs in the cities where it currently operates. "At the end of 2015, if we can make these partnerships happen, we create 50,000 new EU jobs," he said.
Kalanick said after 4 1/2 years of operation in San Francisco, 1.6 million people have taken Uber there, creating 7,500 new jobs. In all, the company has created 35,000 full-time jobs in San Francisco, New York, London and Paris, its four largest markets, Kalanick said, making no mention of the number of regular taxi jobs that have been lost as a result.
"If we could go to the mayor of a city and find a way to partner, we could promise to create 10,000 new jobs inside four years," he pledged, urging cities to unlock competition. “In 2015 we want to establish a new partnership with EU cities and help build the smart cities of tomorrow.”
The Economic Times reported Uber is now the world's highest-valued venture-backed startup, worth more than $41 billion. But it still faces regulatory scrutiny and opposition from traditional taxi services.
Bloomberg noted there were no Uber cars available for conference attendees. “We’ve had particular difficulty growing supply here in Munich,” Kalanick said Saturday at the conference, which runs through Tuesday. “Everybody wants to get an Uber, but pickup times are long. Still, Munich is starting to grow.”
Kalanick plans to travel next to Brussels to pitch regulatory changes to allow his company to operate. He was scheduled to meet with the European Commission Thursday.
Uber operations have been suspended in several U.S. cities and banned in Spain. The latest setback was a ruling by the European Union's top court that will keep nontraditional cabs from using London's bus lanes.
The company also has been criticized for its response to rivals and questions about safeguards for passengers' safety and personal privacy also have been raised. Kalanick said Uber is the safest way to get around despite reports of rape in India and Chicago. South Korea has accused Uber of operating an illegal taxi service and threatened to arrest Kalanick if he ever enters the country, the Independent reported.
Kalanick and Canadian entrepreneur Garret Camp founded Uber in 2009. The company operates in 200 cities around the world.