By any measure, the ascent of Uber has been breathtaking. Less than a decade ago years ago it didn’t exist, and now it’s a $50 billion company. Its soaring valuation has climbed faster than even Facebook’s (FB).
But until relatively recently, yellow cabs were still arguably a more substantial economic force. And not cab companies throughout the U.S. as a whole, we’re talking about yellow cabs specifically in New York City. We looked at the cumulative value of all New York City taxi cab medallions in 2013, the year prices peaked at just over a millions dollars. We then multiplied the average cost by the total number of medallions licenses at the time, 13,437, and landed at well over $10 billion. It’s by no means a scientific or apples-to-apples comparison to Uber’s valuation, which was $3.5 billion in 2013, but it’s another way to look at the relative value of each.
Just two years later, medallion prices have slumped and Uber’s valuation has reached the stratosphere. The company is worth easily triple as much as all of New York’s cab medallions. And the difference might be even greater since it’s hard to get a decent read on what the going rate for a medallion really is because so few have sold this year.
Earlier this summer, when New York Mayor Bill de Blasio waged a brief war on Uber in an effort to champion the city’s taxi businesses, he was right to worry—but probably already too late. Not that long ago, New York’s taxi wars looked like an even match. Now, it’s nowhere close.
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A version of this article appears in the September 1, 2015 issue of Fortune magazine with the headline “A Little Context for the Taxi Wars.”