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Uber investor gauges interest in major new funding round: source

By Sarah McBride

(Reuters) - An investor in Uber, the fast-growing alternative taxi service, has reached out to a venture capital firm about a potential new funding round that could value the company at $1 billion or more, a person familiar with the situation told Reuters.

Uber's chief executive, Travis Kalanick, said the company was not currently raising money.

Uber allows customers to quickly find rides among for-hire car services, such as limousines, by using an app on their phone. It has proven popular in areas where cabs can be hard to hail, such as its home base of San Francisco, and recently gained approval to operate in New York.

If the company were to raise funds at $1 billion or more, it would join an elite group of start-ups that have commanded 10-figure valuations.

Kalanick said the company "has not raised funds or approached a single investor about raising funds since our Series B round in November 2011. Any reports to the contrary are just completely untrue."

Uber, launched in 2010, has grown rapidly on word of mouth. At the Disrupt NY technology conference on Monday, existing investor Bill Gurley of Benchmark Capital called Uber "probably the fastest-growing company that we've ever had," saying Uber was growing faster than eBay - another Benchmark portfolio company - did in its early days.

Technology start-up companies sometimes informally gauge interest in funding without launching a formal fundraising process. The source told Reuters that an Uber investor, whom he declined to identify, had been in touch in early April to gauge interest in the possible new funding.

Uber is considered by many in Silicon Valley to be one of a handful of companies with massive growth potential, and investors have shown a willingness to pay a premium for such firms.

Companies that have won valuations of more than $1 billion recently include SurveyMonkey, recently valued at $1.35 billion; online bulletin board Pinterest, recently valued at $2.5 billion; and payments company Square, recently valued at $3.25 billion.

(Reporting By Sarah McBride; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

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