SAN FRANCISCO — Traveling in steerage was never Uber’s style. After a first-class upgrade thanks to $1.2 billion in new venture capital, the trendy ride-hailing service is finally able to jettison its business clientele for princes and ditch its Jaguars for Gulfstreams.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Fidelity Investments, Wellington Management, and BlackRock are among the key investors backing the four-year-old company, now valued at $18.2 billion.
Their financing will cover the cost of private jets to add to Uber’s fleet, as well as retainers for the prostitutes—called “Uber-stewardesses”—that the company will offer its passengers.
“Passengers wishing to fly with us will still have to pack their own luggage, parachutes, and cocaine,” warned CEO Travis Kalanick. “But all that may change if we can land a few more investors.” Indeed, some have suggested that Uber is worth upwards of $100 billion.
Users of the Uber app have proved willing to pay a premium for rides on demand, coughing up many times the standard fare under “surge pricing” that kicks in during periods of peak demand—like in hurricanes.
Abdullah ibn Saud, a Saudi prince who enjoys a 10,000-square-foot pied-á-terre in New York, appreciates the convenience of the new on-demand jet service. “If another Hurricane Sandy strikes the city, you can bet that I’ll do what it takes to avoid the terrestrial evacuation routes. I’ll be flying high above the storm, thank you very much.”
Says Kalanick, “No thanks is necessary, nor are any tips. It is our pleasure to serve those who would rather avoid interacting with the unwashed masses or, God forbid, public transportation.”
This is not the first time Uber has ventured into the friendly skies. It offered a helicopter service between New York and the Hamptons as an Independence Day promotion last year.
While regulatory pressure previously has landed the company in hot water for running an unlicensed taxi service, Uber’s legal department is confident it is on safe ground having unlicensed pilots fly their planes.
“I’d love to provide the legal basis for our position,” said Dwight Stanton, one of Uber’s attorneys, “but my flight is about to take off.”
Plans to offer in-flight Wi-Fi aboard the private jets are in the works, according to a company spokesman.