San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Uber gets $200 million for international expansion

The ride-hailing app Uber got a $200 million boost from investors Friday to help its push into emerging markets. The latest round comes from Luxembourg-based investment group LetterOne (L1), according to a joint statement.

The news of the multi-million-dollar investment came soon after the Costa Rican government met with several taxi unions on Thursday. During a news conference following the meeting, Presidency Minister Sergio Alfaro said Uber, valued at $50 billion, has a “strong negative social impact” on Costa Rica.

“Our goal is simple: reliable and affordable transportation everywhere, for everyone, at the push of a button,” said Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick. “L1’s knowledge of emerging markets will be crucial in helping us make cities more accessible, opening up more possibilities for riders and more opportunities for drivers.”

Uber has aggressively expanded around the world, especially in Asia, and is now operating in more than 60 countries around the world. In Latin America, Uber operates in 22 cities from Mexico to Argentina. The company started operations in Costa Rica in August 2015 and has announced plans to hire 300 people for a corporate services operation in San José.

The company’s expansion has chaffed against Costa Rica’s official taxis and left President Luis Guillermo Solís’ administration with an uncertain strategy to combat the app’s spread. Taxi drivers blocked traffic in front of the president’s office in Zapote, in southeastern San José, on Feb. 1 after the administration refused to block its download. On Wednesday a female taxi driver chained herself to a tree outside the president’s home in protest over Uber, unlicensed “pirate” taxis and regulations for red taxis.

The Solís government has maintained that the company’s service is illegal in Costa Rica but has yet to outline an enforcement strategy.

“This concerns us as the government because we don’t have the administrative tools to block Internet applications,” Alfaro said. The presidency minister said that while the executive branch could not block the application, a court order might be able to.

There was no mention during the three-hour meeting how the government would address non-Uber unlicensed transportation, Presidency Ministry spokeswoman Ilse Chango said.

Taxi drivers did not say if they planned to protest again over the application or perceived government inaction. Alfaro said the administration is open to continuing dialogue with the taxi unions.

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Hachi Ko

And the hilarity continues…

Apparently… as long as you sell your service using an Internet app… you can circumvent all legislation regarding the business in which you are engaged.

Quote from the Costa Rican government…

“This concerns us as the government because we don’t have the administrative tools to block Internet applications,”

I guess it’s a good thing that people aren’t selling Nuclear Weapons using Internet applications… yet…

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The quality of service Uber provides puts the red taxis to shame. First of all, the vehicles are a million times better and cleaner. Secondly the drivers are more intelligent, polite, and competent. Most importantly, they drive more safely and do not do stupid and dangerous things like send text messages while they drive or use a hand-held cell phone. On top of all that, they are just plain nicer. Plus you don’t have to pay in cash—paying in cash leads more than half of the red taxi drivers–perhaps two-thirds–to try to rip you off by giving you wrong change, telling you they don’t have change, overcharging you to begin with by having a rigged meter or a meter that they started before picking you up. I used red taxis regularly for four years before Uber came, and red taxis SUCK compared to Uber. To be fair, there are a handful of good red taxi drivers I have discovered, but most of the others offer mediocre service at best. At worst, they are downright dangerous. Hurray for Uber!

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Maybe the taxi drivers union should create an app that competes with Uber? If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em…

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Hachi Ko

There is an app called “Easy Taxi”, which you can use to summon a regular taxi. Unfortunately, those taxis must comply with all laws and regulations, so they are more expensive than Uber.

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Bruce Hubert

Uber is the future and Costa Rica needs to deal with it. Technology destroys jobs and creates new ones.

When the age of robots arrives in the next 10 years I guess Solis will say they have a negative social impact. because many unskilled to semi skilled jobs will be eliminated.

Maybe Costa Rica should out law 3 – D printing as tool and dye and mold shops will lose business.

This is about change and people resist change even if it benefits the overwhelming population, because their business plan is no longer viable without government protection.

Guess what? driver less taxis and buses are on the way.. I guess Solis will say this has negative social impact.

He is just kissing the a.. of the taxi union.

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Hachi Ko

Coming soon to a community near you…


We use an Internet app to connect medical professionals with customers. Our doctors don’t have any certifications or licenses, because — through the miracle of Internet technology — they don’t have to. We bypass all government regulations by using an Internet app.

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Ken Morris

You seem to me missing the point.

Something like Uber as a technology may well be the future, and good for all of us, but right now Uber is an organized criminal enterprise openly flouting the laws.

However great technology may be, introducing it for a profit in violation of the law is not any “future” I want.

There is also frankly the possible issue of what used to be called “appropriate technology.” Simply because a technology exists does not mean that it should be used. Take nuclear weapons, for example. Lots of people can make and use them, but lots of those same people refuse.

Mind, I don’t think Uber technology is in a class with nuclear weapons. It’s probably a good technology that ought to be allowed in some form. However, it’s up to the laws of states to decide these things, and no for profit company should be allowed to violate those laws in order to teach anyone a lesson about the future. Uber should work with states to obtain approvale before operating.

Face it, this technology may be good, but Uber is absolute scum, and nobody should confuse the two.

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