Uber: Now One Billion Served

Eduardo Munoz | Reuters

By now, Uber is accustomed to billions with a B: The number appears in its frequent funding rounds and sky-high valuation. Now add to that the total rides the app has booked.

On Wednesday, Uber declared that a short trip in a Honda in London marked the company's one billionth since its inception in 2009. To celebrate, Uber is dipping into its multibillion-dollar kitty to reward the lucky ride pairing. The London passenger will receive a free year of Uber rides; the driver gets a vacation to any city worldwide in which Uber operates, courtesy of Uber (that's over 360 cities in 68 countries).

It's serendipitous that the ride happened in London, home to a recent Uber victory in an extended brawl with the local taxi industry (another thing to which Uber is accustomed). In October, a British High Court ruled that Uber was not operating in London outside the law.

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A year ago, Uber revealed its first ridership numbers — a million rides a day and 140 million for all of 2014 — in a blog post about its safety measures in the wake of the high-profile rape incident in India. In September, CEO Travis Kalanick told Fast Company it's now 2 million rides a day.

The fast-growing company is bracing for its busiest day of the year tomorrow, when revelers bring in 2016 across the globe. Yesterday, Uber announced it was opening service in Cartagena, Colombia, a popular New Year's Eve destination.

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