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Uber isn’t worried about Brexit: CEO Kalanick

Uber, the ride-hailing app that has quickly gained a global presence, isn't concerned about the United Kingdom's decision to disrupt Europe's economic boundaries, its CEO said.

Speaking during a CNBC panel at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Tianjin, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said a Brexit didn't pose any immediate challenges to his business, which is valued at more than $60 billion.

"It's not yet clear fewer people are going to get around cities so maybe it [Brexit] doesn't have as much of an effect on city transportation….As long as there's still roads and people in London, there's still great opportunities for us."

Travis Kalanick, chief executive officer of Uber Technologies Inc.,
Chris Ratcliffe | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Travis Kalanick, chief executive officer of Uber Technologies Inc.,

The U.K.'s vote to leave the European Union (EU) sent shockwaves across the world last Thursday and left many industries wondering about its long-term effects.

"It's harder for us to see the major impact [of Brexit] and what we do day to day," Kalanick continued. "We just need to continue serving people, making sure we can help people get to to work is a key tenet for making our system work."

Exploring the Fourth Industrial Revolution is the main theme of this year's WEF conference. Described as "the advent of cyber-physical systems involving entirely new capabilities for people and machines," according to WEF, the theme is especially pertinent for players such as Uber and Airbnb who are credited with restructuring the traditional industries of transportation and hotels.

"I guarantee you that by 2025, we're not going to waving at cars anymore," Kalanick laughed, referring to the taxi-hailing process.

But in order to get to that scenario, existing regulation needs a complete make-over, he noted.

"As tech gets more wound into cities, innovators are now dealing with the physical world, which is highly regulated. Many of these tools are defined to protect existing players and those protections hinder new innovations…how do we write new rules that better serve people and progress?"

Kalanick appeared unconcerned about its second place in China to homegrown ride-hailing app Didi Chuxing, noting that his business remained focused on "serving riders and drivers better."

That long-term thinking also applied to Uber's stance on an initial public offering (IPO), the topic of much speculation in the tech industry.

"An IPO can slow a company down and make you think more short-term so we're going to wait as long as we can."

While Uber does have an obligation to its investors, Kalanick explained the act of going public can add unnecessary bureaucracy to a company's business strategy.

"Ultimately, a large injection of liquidity is required, certainly for employees that will be important. We're only six years old, so it will happen eventually."

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