On-demand car service Uber launched service in Paris as it announced a $32 million funding round led by Menlo Ventures.
Users of Uber iPhone and Android apps in San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., and now Paris can order a car- service pickup on-demand, view the car's location en route on a map, and even schedule service via SMS text as an alternative to using the app, according to the company.
Other investors participating in the round include newbies Goldman Sachs and Bezos Expeditions along with previous investors Benchmark Capital and Lowercase Capital, says Menlo Ventures.
The launch in Paris, California-based Uber's first foray outside the US, marks the launch of UberEurope.
In a blog post, Uber says the funding will "power global expansion across North America, Europe and Asia."
Uber has an interesting take on international expansion. CEO Travis Kalanick writes in the Uber blog:
"As we started expanding, it became clear that individual cities were the unique factor in our launches. Each city is unique in its transportation pain points, its density, its transportation alternatives, regulation, even its transportation culture. As we did more research we found that there were 'classes' of cities that were not based on country.
"Case in point, Paris is much more like San Francisco in terms of car service transportation, than New York is. This realization meant that traditional thinking around domestic first, international second, just didn’t apply.
"Furthermore, the advent of a sophisticated 'cloning' and copycat industry means you need to move fast to stake your claim on the global stage."
It's not just Uber that welcomed the funding announcement. Others in the sector see it as an affirmation.
"Today's news is exciting because it's a major validation of the business potential in modernizing the private car industry," says T.J. Clark, CEO of rival service Limos.com. "Consumers have already proven they want easier access to private cars and price transparency."
Clark forecasts that "ground transportation will be the fastest growing category within the travel industry in 2012."