Coverage: Uber Technologies is losing billions
Privately held Uber Technologies Inc. disclosed its financial performance for the first time ever, saying it recorded net revenue of $6.5 billion, while adjusted net losses were $2.8 billion in 2016.
Eric Newcomer of Bloomberg News had the story:
Uber declined to report first-quarter numbers, saying they were in line with expectations but that the company hasn’t yet presented them to investors. The company said it’s pleased to see revenue growth far exceeding losses last year and that its business is still performing well this year even as it faces unyielding controversy. “We’re fortunate to have a healthy and growing business, giving us the room to make the changes we know are needed on management and accountability, our culture and organization, and our relationship with drivers,” Rachel Holt, who runs Uber’s U.S. ride-hailing business, wrote in an emailed statement.
In recent months, Uber has seen an exodus of top executives as it investigates claims of sexual harassment and a toxic work culture. Uber is facing a lawsuit over self-driving car technology from Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo, backtracked on a program called Greyball that was used to deceive government officials and apologized after its chief executive officer was videotaped arguing with a driver. Travis Kalanick, the CEO, said he’s seeking a chief operating officer to help right the ship.
Uber’s business is massive and getting bigger. In the last three months of 2016, gross bookings increased 28 percent from the previous quarter to $6.9 billion. The company generated $2.9 billion in revenue, a 74 percent increase from the third quarter. Losses rose 6.1 percent over the same period to $991 million.
Therese Poletti of MarketWatch.com reports that the selective numbers don’t do much to change opinion:
Those figures though, also exclude how much it paid out in stock-based compensation to employees, and given the last few months of negative stories about the company’s toxic, macho, chauvinistic and entitled corporate culture, it’s a good bet that Uber has been giving out even more options to keep key executives and engineering talent. The startup has yet to name a chief operating officer, despite Kalanick’s mea culpa and promise to do so.
While Uber’s revenue growth is at least outpacing its losses, the red ink is still staggering. If it were a public company, Uber would have ranked among the 10 biggest money losing companies, MarketWatch reported Friday. And the revenue total of $6.5 billion is suspect, as it includes full fares from the company’s UberPool service, a ride-pooling service, instead of separating out the driver’s take.
In total, these carefully selected and crafted numbers don’t tell the full Uber story, and could be a smokescreen to distract from all the negative press Uber has faced of late, which has also included a boycott protest and a high-profile legal fight with Waymo, Alphabet Inc.’s self-driving unit. The picture we do get from the numbers would struggle to command the going rate for Uber, which some were doubtful of already.
Caitlin Huston of Marketwatch.com reports that Uber would have been among the top 10 biggest money losers among public companies if its stock was traded:
Uber lost about $1 billion in China, according to Bloomberg and other sources, which adds up to an approximate net loss of $3.8 billion in 2016. That tally would be even larger if other costs which would be counted under generally accepted accounting principles, or GAAP, had been factored.
All totaled, Uber’s loss would easily place it among the top 10 largest GAAP net losses by public companies in the fiscal year most closely mirroring the 2016 calendar year, according to Securities and Exchange Commission data crunched by Audit Analytics, a financial reporting research company.
The net loss Uber pointed to, $2.8 billion excluding its China losses and other factors, is larger than the non-GAAP net loss for all but one company in the S&P 500 index: ConocoPhilips which reported a non-GAAP loss of $3.3 billion for the year, Audit Analytics reported. Some companies that would likely rank higher than Uber on a GAAP-accounting basis would fall lower on a non-GAAP list. For instance, Hess Corp. reported a GAAP loss of $6.1 billion but a non-GAAP loss of slightly less than $1.5 billion.