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Uber Steps on the Gas in Asia Expansion

Taxis in the New Market area of Kolkata, West Bengal, India, on Nov. 1, 2013. Photographer: Sanjit Das/Bloomberg
Taxis in the New Market area of Kolkata, West Bengal, India, on Nov. 1, 2013. Photographer: Sanjit Das/Bloomberg

While Uber's Allen Penn prepared to move last year from Chicago to Singapore to run the car-booking provider's Asia operations, a colleague e-mailed him a link to a world map that showed a circle covering the Asia region. The caption read, "There are more people living inside this circle than outside of it."

Uber is now driving fast into that market. While the company has gained momentum in Europe and blanketed many of the largest U.S. cities with black cars, taxis and hybrids, the app is relatively unknown in Asia. Early last year, it operated in only one city on the continent. Today, it's in a dozen Asian cities . Last week, Uber kicked off service in Hyderabad, an Indian city with about 7 million people, and the week before that, it began to operate in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.