Has a chaotic and expensive year had a major effect on Uber?

14 Feb 2018

Uber app. Image: Mr Whiskey/Shutterstock

2017 was hardly a banner year for Uber, but the business did see some growth.

When Dara Khosrowshahi was announced as the replacement for ousted Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, he looked set to inherit a company in major turmoil. From numerous harassment allegations and losing its licence to operate in London, to the recently settled lawsuit brought against it by Waymo, it really was controversy after controversy for the ride-sharing firm.

Now that the dust has somewhat settled after 2017, Uber has publicised some of its financial information for Q4 and the year overall.

Bookings have increased

According to The Information, gross bookings for Q4 rose 14pc from Q3, a positive for the first full quarter under former Expedia chief Khosrowshahi’s leadership.

Gross revenue for Q4 sits at close to $11.1bn, an increase of close to $1.4bn over Q3 of 2017 and nearly double that of the final quarter of 2016, which saw the company report $6.9bn in revenue.

Lyft is making headway

While revenue saw a boost, Uber lost an estimated 12 points of market share over the course of last year to Lyft. It is important to note Uber’s larger global footprint here, meaning the company may be making up for lost ground in the US in other territories.

Spending at Uber is more disciplined

Operations and support, R&D, and sales and marketing collectively cut spending by $48m in total compared to Q3’s results, showing that Uber is tightening the reins on spending it may deem less than crucial.

Losses still a concern

While sales were at $7.5bn for the year (a 61pc increase), losses were at $4.5bn compared to $2.8bn in 2016, despite signs of recovery in the final three months of last year. However, losses did narrow 26pc from Q3 of 2017 to $1.1bn, down from $1.46bn in the previous quarter.

Legal costs bruise Uber

It was just last week that Uber agreed to pay its Google-owned autonomous vehicle rival, Waymo, $245m worth of its own shares in the settlement of a trade-secrets legal battle.

Could an IPO be on the cards?

Last year, Uber raised billions of dollars in funding, and a deal with SoftBank saw the Japanese conglomerate take an approximate 17.5pc stake in the ride-sharing company. According to Crunchbase, Uber is considering going public in 2019.

Uber app. Image: Mr Whiskey/Shutterstock

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects