Uber lost a billion dollars in its first quarterly report as a public company, a sign that the ride-hailing giant still has a steep climb to attaining profitability.
The company’s loss of $1.01 billion in the first three months of the year contrasted with a one-time profit of $3.75 billion in the same quarter a year ago after the sale of overseas investments. The company lost about $478 million on operations in the first quarter a year ago.
Still, Uber reported that both bookings and the number of people using its platform climbed by more than 30%, positive signs of growth.
Uber’s steep loss shows the hurdles the ride hailing giant faces in achieving executives’ goal of eventually becoming a global one-stop shop for transportation and logistics. The company has outlined a vision for itself as a competitor with tech giant Amazon, applying its vast data trove and routing software to rewrite how goods and people move from one place to another, using computer algorithms to remove what tech sees as inefficiencies in the world.
“Earlier this month we took the important step of becoming a public company, and we are now focused on executing our strategy to become a one-stop shop for local transportation and commerce,” said Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s CEO, in a statement accompanying the quarterly earnings.
But Uber has had a rocky start since going public, an embarrassing debut for what was supposed to be one of the biggest initial public offerings in U.S. history. Its shares started trading on the New York Stock Exchange priced at $45, which valued the company at roughly $82 billion, the low end of the company’s price range. But Wall Street showed its doubts, and stocks opened lower and haven’t hit that price since.
The stock’s poor performance has raised questions about whether gig-economy companies losing billions of dollars a year will be sustainable – and whether the public pressure to make profits will put an even greater squeeze on the millions of drivers who work for them. And despite a massive overhaul of leadership at the Uber, investors still consider the company a risky bet.
(c) 2019, The Washington Post · Faiz Siddiqui