Richard Branson could launch Uber rival

Sir Richard Branson could launch a rival to taxi-hailing app Uber, the Virgin founder has admitted.

The billionaire, who has built a conglomerate spanning transport, financial services and telecommunications, said his company should be involved in the sharing economy, competing with the likes of Uber and home-renting service Airbnb, reports The Telegraph.

“I quite often say to our team, ‘We should be competing with Airbnb. We should be competing with Uber. We’ve got the brand,’” Sir Richard told Mashable. “Maybe one day we’ll set up an alternative.”

The Brit was an early investor in Uber, telling Bloomberg recently that it’s “ridiculous how well it’s done”.

He has also put money into Uber rival Hailo, and has regularly spoken about the benefits of disrupting a market “that has remained unchanged for many years”.

Last month Sir Richard urged London’s traditional taxi businesses to “accept” that there is a new model in the industry, and they must either “embrace it or change what they are doing”.

“You cannot stop progress and you can’t turn the clock back,” he said, speaking at the Virgin StartUp Foodpreneur event in London. “Once you’ve let the genie out of the box and people are benefiting from something, you can’t put it back in.

“Countries that try to ban Uber are holding themselves back,” he said. “It’s like banning Google because it’s competing with education. You must embrace it.”

Uber has been banned in a number of cities across the world over fears it is anti-competitive, as drivers can charge lower fares than traditional cabs.

Transport for London is currently weighing up proposals that would hit Uber hard. Among the proposals mentioned in TfL’s consultation, according to leaked documents, are a minimum wait-time of five minutes between ordering a minicab and it arriving, and a requirement that operators “must not show vehicles being available for immediate hire either visibly or virtually via an app”.