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By Heather Somerville, San Jose Mercury News (TNS)

SAN FRANCISCO — Uber has raised another monster round of funding to value the car-booking company at a whopping $50 billion, making it the highest-valued, venture-backed company in the world, according to a report Friday.

Uber, the gorilla of ride-booking apps, has raised close to $1 billion from investors, according a report from The Wall Street Journal. With the fresh round of financing, Uber surpasses Xiaomi to lay claim to the highest valuation among private companies with VC funding. China’s Xiaomi, an electronics company and one of the world’s largest smartphone distributors, is valued at $46 billion.

Uber’s valuation now matches the high-water mark set by Facebook in 2011, when the social network company reached a $50 billion market cap.

With the reported new funding, San Francisco-based Uber, just five years old, has raised more than $5 billion, more than any other VC-backed company. The company had initially planned to raise between $1.5 billion and $2 billion, but closed short of that.

Investors in the latest round include Microsoft and the investment arm of Indian media conglomerate Bennett Coleman & Co., a person familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal.

Lyft, the second-largest ride-booking company in the United States, has raised about $1 billion and is valued at $2.5 billion.

The cash flow will likely fuel Uber’s aggressive global expansion, which comes with hefty expenses as the company fights regulators, the powerful taxi industry, and even criminal charges in countries across Asia and Europe. Uber on Friday announced it would invest $1 billion in India over the next nine months to improve operations and expand the number of cities it serves there. Its entry into India has been anything but smooth, and the company has been at odds with authorities in New Delhi since an Uber driver there was accused of rape in December. After the incident, Uber was banned from New Delhi and briefly shut down operations, and the Indian woman who said she was raped sued — one of dozens of lawsuits the company is battling over safety issues and the ways it treats its drivers.

Uber is currently in 58 countries and 311 cities.

Although an impressive sum, the new funding round is far from Uber’s largest. In the first quarter this year, Uber raised $1 billion, nearly 17 percent of the total $6 billion VCs and other funds invested in Silicon Valley, according to data from the MoneyTree Report, a quarterly breakdown of investing by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association, using data from Thomson Reuters. That followed Uber’s $1.8 billion of financing in the fourth quarter last year, which was nearly 28 percent of the total sum — $6.3 billion — invested in the valley during that period, and a $1.2 billion round in the summer of 2014.

Photo: Joakim Formo via Flickr

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