Uber is the most valuable, venture capital-backed private company in the world — and it's worth every penny.
So says Ryan Graves, Uber's 32-year-old head of global operations in a wide-ranging, exclusive interview with CNBC. The ride-hailing company has already raised nearly $8 billion and is valued at $51 billion, according to CB Insights.
Some investors might question such a lofty price tag, but Graves suggests it makes sense for a company that is upending and redefining the global transportation system.
Investors are betting on the future success and reach of the service. "We've really never let them down," Graves said.
In just five years, Uber has grown at a historic clip. The service now boasts more than one million active drivers picking up and dropping off passengers in more than 300 cities around the world. The company could generate net revenue this year of $2 billion, according to Reuters.
Still, Uber also faces challenges including regulatory hurdles in Europe and the ongoing fight in the U.S. about whether the company's drivers should be classified as employees rather than contract workers.
In June, a California labor commissioner ruled that an Uber driver was an employee. Uber is appealing that decision, which could have broad ramifications for the start-up's cost structure, forcing it to pay worker's compensation and unemployment insurance.