It took Uber nearly six years to complete a billion trips, but only six months to finish another billion. Today, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick announced his company hit its two-billionth trip on June 18th — with the added caveat that the two billionth car ride was actually 147 trips that began simultaneously in 16 countries.
“These trips happened in 16 countries on five continents, from Costa Rica to Russia and from China to Australia,” Kalanick writes in a blog post Monday. “The longest of the bunch lasted more than an hour as the rider and driver worked their way across Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital. The shortest, a POOL trip in Changsha, China, lasted just three minutes.”
To celebrate, Uber is giving $450 to each driver and $450 of free trips to each rider involved in those 147 rides. “It took five years to reach our billionth trip, six months to reach the next billion … and we’ll hopefully reach our third even more quickly,” Kalanick says.
The breakdown of those 147 trips provides a snapshot of Uber’s global ambitions. While 31 percent of those rides took place in the US, 37 percent were in China. That makes sense, considering China recently became Uber’s largest market, accounting for more than a third of its business in terms of weekly trips. It’s also where Uber is locked in a staggeringly expensive competition with homegrown ride-hail company (and Apple investee) Didi Chuxing. Last year, Uber lost $1 billion in its price war with Didi, and is expected to lose just as much this year.
Didi is also hitting milestones at a brisker pace than Uber. Kalanick’s company celebrated its billionth trip since launching in 2009 last December. A few days later, Didi announced it had completed 1.43 billion trips in 2015 alone. And it’s important to note that Uber is in 60 countries, while Didi only operates in China.