Uber is investing its growth into its next chapter | Digital Asia

Digital Asia News Update

Uber isn't expanding the global footprint of its ride-hail service at breakneck speed anymore. It also isn't close to being profitable yet. That's in large part because the company, under CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, is spending a lot of its money building out its next chapter, which goes far beyond ordering car rides with your phone.

The Uber of tomorrow includes food delivery, scooter- and bike-sharing, car rental, flying cars, partnerships with transit networks, plus expanding its rides business in key global markets such as India, the Middle East and Latin America.

“Cars are to us what books are to Amazon,” Khosrowshahi has said. Just the beginning.

Fortunately for Uber, its business is still growing rapidly — though a bit slower these days — putting it in a position to invest in these newer areas.

According to financial documents supplied by Uber, the company generated $2.8 billion in revenue last quarter, a nearly $1.1 billion increase over the same period a year ago, representing 63 percent . (That's down from 70 percent year-over-year growth in the first quarter.)

But Uber still lost close to $900 million last quarter, down 16 percent from a $1.1 billion loss in the same period a year ago.

“Going forward, we're deliberately in the future of our platform: Big bets like Uber Eats; congestion and environmentally friendly modes of transport like Express Pool, e-bikes and scooters; emerging businesses like Freight; and high-potential markets in the Middle East and India where we are cementing our leadership position,” Khosrowshahi said in a statement.

It's not exactly a surprise that the company continues to lose cash. Uber executives have been vocal about their plans to pour funds into growing the surprisingly successful Uber Eats food-delivery business while strengthening their position in the Middle East and India.

Uber Eats, for its part, is already in more than 290 cities. AtRecode's Code Conferencein late May,Khosrowshahi said Eats is growing 200 percent at a $6 billion bookings run rate. The company doesn't break out how much it spends on specific businesses, but a recent report from The Information indicates that losses are “low single digits as a percentage of gross bookings.”

As for its global footprint, winning in the international markets it hasn't already exited remains especially important. (Uber's most recent exits include deals with Southeast Asian rival Grab and Russian competitor Yandex, which combined to generate a nearly $3 billion gain for Uber in early 2018.) While the Grab deal was in part an admission that Uber couldn't compete with its homegrown rival, it was also a sort of call to arms in markets like India, Latin America and the Middle East.

On top of that, Uber has invested in becoming, as Khosrowshahi put it, the Amazon for transportation — a platform that riders can use to access several different modes of transport. It's a critical part of creating a viable alternative to personal car ownership — and thus more of a reliance on Uber.

To that end, in addition to acquiring Jump Bikes for about $200 million, Uber has also participated in a $335 million financing round for scooter-sharing company Lime. Under that partnership, Uber will let its users rent Lime scooters in its app.

This is all in the lead-up to a potential public offering, which Khosrowshahi said will happen by the end of 2019. It's critical that the company is able to show that there are new viable growth opportunities while continuing to build out existing revenue streams.

“I think being able to demonstrate [to investors] that we are a company that is able to deliver multiple growth engines and is able to incubate and execute upon a few different opportunities; I think that's a really important story,” Uber COO Barney Harford previously toldRecode.

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