Uber is a ride-hailing app, that allows consumers to order a private or shared car with a few taps of a mobile app, with payment taken automatically from users’ accounts. As well as being more convenient than hailing a traditional cab, it also offers service at a considerably lower price point.
Founded in 2009 by long-serving CEO Travis Kalanick (now resigned, though still on the board) and Garrett Camp in 2009 and launched the following year, Uber rapidly became an entrenched transport option. Though a raft of competitors are gaining ground, it remains the dominant ride-hailing app across most of the world.
Uber is hailed as the archetypal disruptive business, and has certainly played havoc with the taxi industry in major cities across the world by tearing up the rule book. This disdain for the rule book has, however seen it dogged by controversies throughout its existence.
Despite these challenges, CNBC still rated Uber 2nd on its list of most disruptive companies in the world in 2018, beaten only by SpaceX.
As well as the core ride hailing business, Uber has moved into new fields in recent years. Most notable is the concentration of a huge amount of resources in funding research into autonomous cars. While we’re some way from that vision of the future being realised, food delivery service Uber Eats is already operating successfully in hundreds of cities across the world.
Uber has also diversified its core offering over the years, introduced peer-to-peer rides through UberPop, ride sharing through UberPool, and various levels of luxury options including the UberCHOPPER…
If you want to know who uses Uber, how they use it, and how much money the ride-sharing giant is bringing in, then read our compilation of Uber statistics below.
Key Uber Statistics
- Uber is available in 65 countries and over 600 cities worldwide
- 15 million Uber trips are completed each day
- Well over 5 billion trips have been completed worldwide
- Figures vary, but Uber’s market share of the US ride-hailing market is estimated at between 69% and 74%
- Uber revenue Q2 2018 was $2.8 billion, an increase of 63% (down from 70% in Q1)
- Q2 net loss was $891 million, following profit of $2.5 billion in Q1 (discounting sales to Grab in Southeast Asia and Yandex in Russia, a $312 million loss)
- Uber net revenue 2017 was $7.5 billon; net loss was $4.5 billion
- Total venture capital raised by Uber stands at $24.2 billion
- Uber valuation in 2018 was $72 billion
- Average Uber driver income is $364/month
- US Uber and Lyft drivers’ median hourly rate can be as low as $8.55
- There are 3 million Uber drivers worldwide, 0.75 million in the US, and 2.25 million in the rest of the world
- 27% of US UberX drivers are female
- Female Uber drivers have been found to make 7% less than male drivers – or $1.24 per hour less
- Female Uber driver turnover stands at 76% every six months, compared to 60% for men
- Key rival Lyft brought in $1 billion in revenue in 2017, and $909 million over the first half of 2018 – more than 100% up on H1 2017
- Lyft has 1.4 million drivers, who have served 23 million passengers over 500 million rides
- Asian rival Grab is set to bring in $1 billion over 2018
- 36 million riders have collectively used Grab 2 billion times, served by 2.6 million drivers
- Chinese rival Didi Chuxing is the biggest international rival, valued at $56 billion
- Didi Chuxing claims that its 21 million drivers provide 30 million rides daily
Uber User and Usage Statistics
Uber is available across the world. According to the brand itself, Uber is available in over 600 cities, spread across 65 countries (specially, these ones). Spread across these are 75 million Uber passengers, who are served by a total of 3 million drivers (Uber is a platform that allows for casual work so it’s important to note that this does not indicate the number of drivers who completely or even mostly rely on Uber to make a living). Of these drivers, 750,000 are based in the US, with the remaining 2.25 million spread over the rest of the world.
Uber’s biggest market is the US (with 41.8 million users in March 2018), though it is a truly global enterprise – with the exception of certain regions in which local business has been sold to regional operators. Read more about these regional rivals in the section below on Uber competitors.
The second-biggest Uber market is Brazil, in which 17 million were using the app in March 2018. London, UK is the biggest European Uber market, with 3.5 million users. In India, there were reportedly over 5 million weekly active riders as of August 2017.
Uber’s official newsroom reports that over Uber’s nearly 10 years of operation, 5 billion trips have been completed worldwide. This figure is climbing rapidly, with 15 million Uber trips completed each day.
According to Certify, Uber was the most expensed vendor by US business travellers in Q3 2018, accounting for 11% of the total transactions made (not by value). To put this into perspective, the second-most expensed company was Starbucks, claiming a mere 4% of the total.
See below the Uber vs. Lyft section below to learn the average monthly sum spent on Uber in various US cities, in comparison with Lyft.
The average cost of taking an Uber for business travellers in the US is $24.22, plus a tip of $4.03.
To compare the cost of taking an Uber, Champion Traveller used the app’s fare estimation tool to find the average cost of a 10km trip in cities across the world. The figures, as you might expect, vary greatly – even if we only look at the highly-developed world. In Rome or Honolulu one can expect to pay a lot more than Toronto or Zurich. The cheapest Ubers are available in the developing world, in cities such as Islamabad and Cairo, where the trip can be made for under $2.
(The Tokyo figure of $40.86 is somewhat skewed by the level of service available being limited to the premium UberBLACK).
Average cost of 10km Uber ride around the world
Source: Champion Traveller
According to GlobalWebIndex stats, US Uber users generally seem to mirror the population itself, being split evenly along gender and income lines.
Usage is most concentrated among younger age groups, while there’s a relatively even split in terms of urban and suburban users – as we might expect from a service that is only available in urban hubs.
Uber US demographics
In age terms, we see a similar picture over in London.
Uber London demographics
Source: The Telegraph
Uber vs. taxi usage
In New York, perhaps the home of the world’s most iconic taxis, Uber became the most popular form of private hire transport in terms of rides per day in September 2017. Since then, bar a couple of minor dips, it’s been in front – and continuing to pull away.
As of August 2018, 436,000 Uber rides took place per day, compared to 275,000 taxi rides, and 122,000 Lyft rides.
Uber vs. taxis vs. Lyft rides per day in New York
Source: Todd W. Schneider
One of the reasons Uber is able to command such a lead is due to the considerably larger size of its fleet. Around 63,000 Uber vehicles were available to New Yorkers in August 2018, compared to 34,000 Lyft vehicles and a mere 16,000 yellow cabs.
We should remember, however, that Uber and Lyft drivers may be casual workers, and that some drivers use both apps (stats on this below). Judging by these stats, there’s a higher rides to vehicles ratio for taxis, who work full time.
The number of Uber drivers overtook taxi drivers conclusively as far back as August 2015.
Uber vs. taxis vs. Lyft Number of vehicles in fleet in New York
Source: Todd W. Schneider
Over the pond, in London, we see licences for private hire cars (including but not limited to Uber) shooting up since Uber came onto the market in 2012 (67,000) to 118,000 in 2016/17. The number of taxis stayed relatively stable over the same period, declining from a peak of 23,000 in 2011/12 to 21,000 five years on.
Private hire vs. taxi licences in London
Source: The Telegraph
Uber and Lyft ‘pounding’ rental cars?
Much has been made of the ground gained by ride-hailing apps over rental cars as well as taxis, based on Certify expense data. Indeed, the number of rides does far eclipse the number of cars hired. Certify have now stopped making this comparison, however, as it only accounts for the number of transactions, not their total value – thus making the comparison not a fair one, as enumerated in Bloomberg.
We might also consider the sort of trips one makes in an Uber (short, urban) perhaps do not compare to the multiday long-distance trips one might make in a rental car. In conclusion, the comparison is not totally apt. This graphic serves as further evidence that taxis struggle to compete, however.
Private hire vs. taxi licences in London
Uber vs. Lyft vs. Grab vs. Didi Chuxing
Uber was the first mover in terms of ride-hailing apps. The success of the platform, coupled with regulatory constraints imposed on it in certain jurisdictions, and the spate of controversies that seems to move forever in Uber’s wake, means that it certainly has not remained unchallenged. Indeed the latter two points mean that rivals have been able to prosper.
Chief among these rivals are Lyft, Grab, and Didi Chuxing. The first operates solely in the US market (and a tiny part of Canada), while the latter two operate in the lucrative Southeast Asian and Chinese markets respectively. Didi Chuxing controls 90% of the market in China.
While Uber’s key focus is on North American market, the global ride-hailing market is concentrated in Asia – where 70% of global rides took place over 2017, according to ABI Research.
Uber controls 46% of the market in India – the world’s third-biggest.
Lyft is the only true direct rival in the US, with local operators Didi Chuxing and Grab operating in markets in which Uber does not have a significant presence – in both cases because business was sold to the local rival. Didi Chuxing’s takeover of Brazilian ride-hailing app 99, however, has moved it more into the position of direct competitor, as has its move into Uber-dominated Mexico.
It will be interesting to see how things play out in these markets. With Uber’s efforts in Asia not paying dividends, these are the few remaining options when it comes into further global expansion. Uber has signalled its intent to compete in the lucrative Brazilian market.
Grab operates in eight Southeast Asian markets. Uber struck a deal with Grab in March 2018, selling its Southeast Asian business to the Singapore-based firm for an undisclosed sum and a 27.5% share in the company. Uber also sold its Chinese business to Didi Chuxing for $35 billion in 2016.
Uber had previously invested $700 million in its business in the region, and a further $2 billion in China. Uber and Grab were fined $9.5 million by Singapore’s competition watchdog for their “anti-competitive” deal.
We might also count Ola in India and Careem in the Middle East as regional rivals (both recipients of Didi Chuxing-funding). These last listed rivalries are not insignificant – the Middle Eastern and Indian markets are still considered to be up-for-grabs, and along with Latin America look set to be the chief ride-hailing battlegrounds of the future.
Uber market share in the US
There are no concrete figures for market share in the US. Lyft claims to control as much as 35% of the US market, and says it enjoys dominance in several undisclosed cities. Uber releases no such figures, though reportedly its internal metrics show 70-72% market share.
Alternatively, research firm Second Measure puts Uber’s market share of the ride hailing market at 69%, Lyft on 29%, and ‘others’ on 2%. Another research firm, Certify, looked solely at business travellers, 74% of which used Uber, compared with 19% for Lyft, and 7% for ordinary taxis.
Uber then, remains dominant, with anything from two thirds to three quarters of the market – though Lyft seems to be catching up.
Uber vs Lyft vs Grab vs Didi Chuxing
This table uses the latest available official data – in most cases the numbers are likely to be higher in real terms. Total number of rides in particular is likely to have shot up, given the huge number of daily rides. In terms of sheer numbers, it is clear that the Asian market dominates, though on a global scale it is relatively weak on the financial side.
Lyft has enjoyed a few years of healthy growth, taking market share away from Uber in its troubled 2017. It remains a significantly smaller enterprise for now, though with rapid growth – 168% year on year at the last reckoning – who knows what the future will hold.
Uber vs. Lyft market share
Unsurprisingly, the biggest spenders on Uber and Lyft in the US are the denizens of their hometown – San Francisco – who spend an average of $110/month on Uber and $89 on Uber.
Confirming ride-hailing’s popularity in knowledge economies, Boston comes next, with a $95 average Uber spend versus $55 for Lyft, followed by New York ($84 on Uber and $54 on Lyft).
Lyft comes out ahead in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where the average monthly bill is $85, compared to a $46 average Uber spend. The same apples in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania ($50 for Lyft, $49 for Uber) and Denver, Colorado ($40 vs. $38).
Uber vs. Lyft average spend in US
Uber vs. Lyft for business travellers
Business travellers vary in their choice of ride provider across the US. Uber is most popular in southern cities Miami and Dallas, while traditional taxis claim a quarter or more of business in the metropolises New York and Chicago. Lyft on the other hand, claims its biggest market share in Californian cities San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Between 2017 and 2018, Lyft gained the most ground on Uber in San Francisco – a 27% swing.
Uber vs. Lyft share of business travellers by US city
User and driver ratings play a big part in the ride hailing experience. In this respect, Lyft can claim the edge over Uber, with scores of 4.8 on average, compared to 4.4. A normal taxi ride is likely to average a mere 4.0.
Uber vs. Lyft rating by business travellers
Lyft is planning an IPO in Spring 2019, possibly pipping Uber to the post. Like Uber, Lyft is conducting experiments with self-driving cars.
Didi Chuxing is the only business that can compare with Uber in terms of valuation and disruptive potential – ranking ahead of Lyft in CNBC’s disruptor ranking. A Didi IPO is thought to be some way off, however.
Uber vs. Lyft drivers
In a survey of 1,200 drivers conducted in early 2018 found that over half of US ride-hailing app drivers only used Uber – not too far under four times those who used only Lyft. One in five reported using both.
Uber vs. Lyft driver crossover
Source: The Rideshare Guy
These numbers could easily shift, with over 78.5% of drivers signed up to at least two apps. Indeed, though Uber leads with 88% driver signup, Lyft’s 75% figure is certainly not too far behind.
In terms of satisfaction, Lyft leads the way according to the same source, with 48% of drivers stating they somewhat agreed that they were satisfied driving for Lyft, and a further 27% saying they strongly agreed. This compares with 43% and 15% respectively for Uber.
Uber’s ride to dominance has not been completely smooth, and since the beginning it has been dogged by controversy. This reached fever pitch in 2017, which can very much be considered Uber’s annus horribilis.
Unsurprisingly, given the threat it poses to traditional taxi drivers’ livelihoods, Uber has sparked no small amount of backlash from said industry – occasionally even reaching levels of violence (as it did in Barcelona, for example).
On the subject of livelihoods, one of the reasons Uber has been able to undercut traditional taxis is its cheapness. It is something of a zero-sum game, as one of the reasons it is able to offer lower fares is, sadly, by not always treating its drivers as well as one would hope. Uber drivers earn less than the legal minimum wage in certain locations.
In early 2017, Uber was forced to pay out $20 million to settle a claim that they had mislead drivers as to how much they stood to earn in certain cites. The claimed that drivers earned a median $90,000 in New York, or $74,000 in San Francisco. The real rates for driver working a 40-hour week were more like $61,000 and $53,000 respectively, according to the US Federal Trade Commission.
This was the case across the US: Uber claimed UberX drivers (the standard Uber service in an official Uber car) working full-time in Boston could earn $25 an hour – a figure fewer than 10% of drivers could match. In Chicago they claimed $21 an hour, and $16 an hour in Baltimore. In both cases fewer than 20% could match these claims.
In October 2017 Uber launched the 180 Days of Change initiative to improve conditions for Uber drivers. According to a January 2018 survey, nearly half of Uber drivers somewhat agreed that they were satisfied with the initiative, with a further 9% strongly agreeing.
Reported satisfaction with Uber’s 180 Days of Change Initiative
Source: The Rideshare Guy
Workers’ rights are among the reasons that, in several markets, Uber’s services have been restricted or its drivers asked to undergo checks to bring it into line with established transport providers. In others, Uber has been banned outright: you won’t be able to get an Uber in Denmark or most of Germany, for example. In London, its license renewal was denied in September 2017, though it continues to operate in the city as it appeals the decision and attempts to come into compliance with fit and proper operator regulations.
It was banned in the UK’s capital following attacks on passengers leading to concerns about the background checks conducted on drivers – also raised in parts of the US. It was forced to pay a fine of $8.9 million in Colorado for shortcomings in its driver-vetting process. The safety of female passengers is also an area of concern for Uber, with a class-action suit brought against Uber for creating an ecosystem in which violence against women can thrive crowning the backlash.
Uber has also come under fire for its dynamic pricing model, which sees prices raised at peak times: including natural and manmade disasters. One such example of the latter is raising pricing during a taxi driver strike at JFK Airport in NYC protesting Donald Trump’s travel ban. Premiums charged in these instances were refunded, and the service has since moved to provide free rides in times of disaster.
Speaking of Donald Trump, CEO Travis Kalanick drew criticism for serving in the US president’s Strategic and Policy Forum (which he qualified as not being an endorsement of the president). He stepped down from the forum in the wake of a #DeleteUber campaign protesting his membership, and not long afterwards was forced to step down from his position at Uber in the midst of the app’s disastrous 2017.
Uber’s foray into developing driver-less cars saw it ‘gutting’ the world-leading robotics department at Carnegie Mellon University, with which it has announced a partnership. Uber has donated $5 million to school in recompense. This is not the worst controversy Uber has encountered in this experiment, with a death caused by a self-driving car in 2018.
Most recently, Uber was forced to pay $148 million after covering up a 2016 data breach.
Uber Driver Statistics
Who Drives for Uber?
Unfortunately, up-to-date data is not available on the demographic composition of Uber drivers. Uber published an infographic back in 2015 showing a breakdown of who drove for them in the US.
At this stage, Uber drivers were most likely to be aged from 30-49, and to be non-white. The most surprising statistic is that nearly half were in possession of a college degree. Perhaps we can assume that many were turning to Uber for casual work for a short period of time, rather than engaging in full-time driving.
We know the percentage of female drivers has increased since this data was published, to 27%.
Uber driver demographics
Uber driver earnings
While we do not have access to official Uber statistics on how much drivers earn, various studies have been carried out with varying results. As mentioned above, earnings have largely failed to match up with Uber’s claims.
A report from MIT found that US drivers working for Uber and Lyft made an average of $8.55 an hour – higher than a previously reported figure of $3.37 (and the federal minimum wage of $7.25), though still below what any would consider a decent salary (and the minimum wage in 20 states).
In a 2017 study of sharing economy pay, looking at insurance applications, Earnest found that the mean average monthly pay for an Uber driver was $364. This figure is obviously pulled up by those who work as full-time Uber drivers, who are a minority; the median Uber monthly pay figure is $155. This compares negatively to Lyft (though is drawn from a much larger sample).
Average sharing economy monthly pay
It seems then that the majority of Uber drivers use the platform as a side-gig – to supplement their main source of income. Indeed, breaking it down, we can see that nearly 50% of Uber drivers make less than $99, and 84% make less than $500. A mere 2% on the other hand make more than $1,500, and none break the $2,000-mark.
How much do Uber drivers make on average per month?
Ridester carried out a 2018 survey of 2,625 Uber drivers (and a small percentage of Lyft drivers, though stats were largely equivalent), working a collective 62,583 hours, earning a total $1,027,585.
They found average UberX driver earnings were $13.70 per hour, increasing to $14.73 with an added tip (though over a third of UberX drivers reported receiving no tips at all). As we might expect, earnings creep up with service level, though the sample size for the luxury UberBLACK service was small enough to make the $24.87 per hour figure anecdotal. These earnings figures are after Uber has taken its 25% cut. Ridester asked that the self-reported figures were corroborated with earnings screenshots – notably, it seemed many drivers were overstating their earnings, meaning actual figures are likely to be even lower.
The survey also produced some other interesting findings. Nearly half of responding drivers had been driving for Uber for under a year, with only 30% having been Uber drivers for 2 years or more. 75% of Uber drivers provided the UberX-level of service – the lowest, with average earnings of $0.73 per mile.
Ridester Uber driver survey findings
As with the average amount being paid out by customers, average hourly Uber earnings vary from state to state. According to Ridester stats, Uber drivers from Hawaii earned the most per hour, followed by Washington and Minnesota. The worse Uber hourly rates were earned in North Carolina, Texas, and Missouri.
By city, the best are Honolulu, Seattle, and Long Island; the worst are Akron, Raleigh/Durham, and Houston. Respondents to the Ridester survey were split 50:50 between those who were full-time Uber drivers, and those who drove in addition to other sources of income.
Best and worst Uber hourly earnings in the US
Another survey of 1,200 Uber and Lyft drivers conducted in early 2018 by The Rideshare Guy reported median earnings of $15-19.99 before expenses. The same report found that drivers believed they should be earning 31% more.
Uber drivers’ hourly earnings
Source: The Rideshare Guy
In terms of satisfaction with their earnings, Uber drivers scored the app an average 2.9 out of 5, with 70% giving 3 stars or fewer.
Uber drivers’ satisfaction with earnings
The survey does not take into account driving expenses. The IRS and Triple A estimate that these would stand at around 55 cents per mile for a medium sedan/saloon car (including depreciation).
UberX rental costs for drivers who do not own their own vehicles come to $200-400 per week, depending on city – which works out at $5-10/hour for a 40-hour week. The cost is around the same for those who own their own vehicles, Ridester estimates.
Expenses are generally thought to come to 20% of earnings.
Uber drivers gender pay gap
A study of driver pay commissioned by Uber and carried out by Stanford University found, that despite the gig economy’s supposed levelling of the playing field, that female Uber drivers earned on average 7% less than males.
The report attempted somewhat unsatisfactorily to explain why this disparity existed. It concluded the main reason was that male drivers tended to drive quicker, thus completing a greater number of jobs over any given time period (the Uber model favours speed over safety, it seems).
The second reason was experience – more experienced drivers tend to earn more money. Uber has a problem when it comes to turnover of female drivers – over a six-month period, 76% of female Uber drivers quit, compared with 60% of men. Thus, female drivers tend to have less experience.
The last reason was apparently related to the routes taken by drivers.
Female Uber drivers account for 27% of the company’s US workforce.
A relatively small percentage of drivers responding to the Rideshare survey were optimistic that conditions would improve under Dara Khosrowshahi’s stewardship (23%), and the average score for their opinion of the company’s corporate leadership was a slightly underwhelming 2.9.
Most also gave a middling score to the level of employee service (3.1 out of 5). Uber drivers were split on the direction the company was going, with around 31% saying it was getting better, 30% saying it was getting worse, and the rest not knowing.
The Rideshare Guy survey found that most Uber drivers’ satisfaction levels relatively high, with 43.4% stating they somewhat agreed that they were happy driving for Uber – registering an upward trend between 2017 and 2018.
Uber driver satisfaction
Source: The Rideshare Guy
The stats look a bit worse for UberPOOL – Uber’s ridesharing service for multiple passengers, with two thirds of drivers reporting dissatisfaction with the service.
Pay was the most important thing for 55% of Uber drivers according to the same survey, though a not-insignificant proportion reported that flexibility was their number one concern.
What do Uber drivers value?
Source: The Rideshare Guy
Uber being a part of the sharing economy, one of the key issues is that of employment rights and employment status. Chiming with the large percentage who stated flexibility was the most-important thing to them (this doesn’t even take into account the percentage for whom it was important but not the single-most important thing), 75% of drivers overall stated they were happy with their status as independent contractors, with only 21% stating they’d like to be employees.
As we might expect, more full-time Uber drivers would prefer the status of full-time employee.
Preferred type of employment
Source: The Rideshare Guy
Other Uber Business Areas
Uber has placed a lot of stock into autonomous car research. Uber initially moved into the field in 2015, partnering with the robotics department at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. It was something of a lopsided partnership, however, with 40 of the 100 researchers at the lab jumping ship to join Uber’s Advanced Technology Group, leaving the lab forced to rebuild itself.
The first tests saw the Uber autonomous car fleet causing all manner of minor accidents and traffic violations in Pittsburgh. Its relationship with the city deteriorated, and a promised $50 million injection into Pittsburgh’s public transport was withdrawn.
Uber was invited to test its cars in Arizona, and it was in the southwestern state that a self-driving car tragically hit and killed Elaine Herzberg in March 2018. Consequently its license to test in Arizona was withdrawn, and it held back on reapplying for a new license in California until it fully investigates the findings. It announced a return to the roads in Pittsburgh a few months later, though with the vehicles under manual control, and with a scaled-down fleet.
All of this research does not come cheap, of course. It is estimated that Uber pumps between $125 and $150 million into autonomous car research every quarter; with total investment thought to be at least $2 billion. Naturally, investors have expressed concern, though it is in the interests of developing this technology that Toyota invested $500 million into Uber in August 2018.
Uber’s announcement to move into the autonomous car field came hot on the heels of a Google announcement of the same. The two would be involved in a controversy in 2017-18, when it transpired that an engineer who had left Google to found self-driving truck company Otto had downloaded 14,000 files of data from Google pertaining to autonomous car technology.
Uber bought Otto for $700 in 2016 – it later came to light that a circuit board used by Uber bore a remarkable similarity to one produced by Waymo (the rebranded Alphabet division for self-driving cars). A lawsuit followed, with Waymo winning a $245 million equity stake, and a promise that Uber would work with it to ensure that all its technology was its own.
Uber’s autonomous car research may be a clue to the transportation of the future, but it has also caused the organisation no small amount of trouble.
Uber Eats on the other hand has been an undeniable success. Launched in August 2014, the app allows users to order food for delivery from participating local restaurants. The service was originally known as UberFRESH when launched in California. As of April 2017, it had partnered with 46,000 restaurants around the world.
It is currently available in 250 cities across the world. Dara Khosrowshahi said the app had a bookings run rate of $6 billion as of May 2018. This compares to $3.8 billion in gross food sales for the US-only GrubHub. The latter still dominates on home turf, but Uber Eats is gaining ground. Indeed, in nine of the 22-most populous cities in the US, Uber Eats has the edge.
Uber Eats market share in the US
According to SimilarWeb traffic analysis, the site ranks number 1 in the global ‘catering’ category. Indeed, it ranks within the top 1,000 websites overall in Canada and the UK, and within the top 1,500 in the US and France.
Uber Eats’ Google Play stats are even more impressive. It is the number 1 food and drink app in the US, and second in Canada, France, and the UK (in Canada and the UK it is in the top-30 apps overall). In all it had been visited 16.4 million times as of October 2018.
Uber runs at a considerable loss – in all, Uber has ‘burned through’ $11 billion. The Q2 2018 Uber loss figure stood at $891 billion.
Like Travis Kalanick before him, it is thought current CEO Dara Khosrowshahi places more stock in growth than balancing the books. In that metric, he’ll be satisfied with the 63% year-on-year increase in revenue that saw the total figure come to $2.8 billion. The loss figure also represents a 16% improvement on Q2 2017.
Uber revenue (gross and net) and profit/loss
Q1 2018 was a different story – with Uber turning a profit of $2.5 billion. This is nothing to do with the daily running of the business however, instead being founded on the sale of the Southeast Asian business to Grab and Russian business to Yandex.
Taking those figures out of the equation, Uber lost $312 million over the quarter – which itself is positive, in effect cutting loss in half as compared with Q1 2017. Quarter-by-quarter, over 2017, Uber lost $0.8 billion, $1.1 billion, $1.5 billion, and $1.1 billion, Over the whole of 2017, Uber’s total net loss was $4.5 billion – considerably worse than the $2.8 billion lost in 2016.
Uber net revenue (revenue minus drivers’ cuts) over this period stood at $7.5 billion, highlighting just how much the company had been spending
Despite the improvement in 2018, Uber revenue growth slowed between Q1 and Q2 (70% dropping to 63% year-on-year) causing concern in some quarters. The table below shows net revenue – Uber’s take after the drivers have claimed their share of gross revenue (80% of takings). Uber has no obligation to report financials as a private company. The data up to the end of 2016 may be less accurate, but is included for illustrative purposes. From 2017, Uber has been more forthcoming with quarterly financial reports.
Uber net revenue, millions of USD
Uber gross revenue has been growing steadily since the beginning of 2017.
Uber gross revenue
Uber claimed to have $7.3 billion in cash to hand in August 2018.
Uber revenue and costs by business area
UberEats is reportedly now responsible for over 10% of Uber’s gross bookings, which is thought to be masking an overall slowdown in the main business.
Uber’s self-driving cars research seems to be something of a black hole for the company, costing an estimated $125-200 million per quarter – or 15- 30% of quarterly losses, resulting in a backlash from investors who believe the business section should be sold.
Uber is reportedly looking to move into new markets, including scooter rentals, buses, and bicycles. Khosrowshahi has stated, “Cars are to us what books are to Amazon.”
According to Crunchbase, Uber has raised a total of $24.2 billion in funding over 21 rounds. The most recent of these (excepting a $2 billion debt restructuring) came in August 2018, when Japanese carmaker Toyota invested $500 million in the company, with the goal of working together to develop self-driving cars.
Notably, SoftBank has invested heavily in the ride-hailing market. The Uber deal followed a busy 2017 for the Japanese bank’s Vision Fund, which invested $9.5 billion invested in Didi Chuxing (a figure slightly bettered in 2016), $2.5 billon into Grab, $1.4 billion in Indian ride-hailing app Ola, and $200 into the Didi Chuxing-owned 99, which operates in Brazil.
Uber is privately held, though targets an IPO in mid-2019. It is held back from doing this as a result of a longstanding failure to find and hire a CFO.
Toyota set Uber’s valuation at $72 billion when making the above-mentioned $500 million investment. This is a $10 billon increase on the $62 billion reported at the end of the first quarter, based on a tender offer. In late 2017, SoftBank valued Uber at $48 billion, which was a significant decrease on the $66 billion reported in June 2016.
Its valuation has shot up over its years of operation, standing at a miniscule-seeming $350 million in early 2012, shooting up to $18 billion two years later. By the end of that same year, 2014, this had more than-doubled. With the exception of the Softbank recalibration, the value has been on the up since. Its rocketing in value has led it to be labelled a ‘unicorn’ – that is a startup that has achieved a valuation of over $1 billion. Technically, with a valuation of over $10 billion, Uber now classes a ‘decacorn’.
Uber valuation history
$72 billion may seem eye-watering, but it seems Uber is targeting an even higher valuation of $120 billion when it eventually goes public in 2019. It still leads the way in terms of valuation in the ride-hailing market, with only Didi Chuxing coming close to it.
Uber valuation compared to other ride-hailing businesses
Uber is the world’s second-most valuable privately-held startup, with only Ant Financial able to better its valuation at the time of writing.
Uber valuation vs. other privately-held startups
Source: The Atlas
Remember a world before Uber?
Taxi drivers no doubt remember such days fondly. But for a lot of passengers, these days look distinctly like the Dark Ages. The days of uneasily watching taxi meters climb upwards and upwards, or tackling grimy and occasionally dangerous public transport networks in many parts of the world, are distinctly over (or at least are so for those with the requisite levels of income).
Of course, Uber has not remained unchallenged since coming on the market – a good idea never is. Certainly, rivals like Lyft in the US, and Didi Chuxing in Asia and increasingly other markets (directly or through investment in regional proxies) have made up a lot of ground.
The name Uber is no longer completely synonymous with ride hailing. It remains, however, well out in front for now. It remains to be seen if it will be able to achieve its IPO during 2019 as planned. Competitors aside, there will certainly be a scramble to acquire stock when it does eventually happen, with the consequent further driving up of an already high valuation.
The stock market, however, is sensitive to shocks. Uber has repeatedly inflicted considerable damage on itself in a way that only a dominant first mover can afford to get away it – a status partly gained through taking the same shortcuts that eventually ended in controversy. There’s no telling what effect this regular drumbeat of bad news would have when subjected to the rigours of public trading. Certainly, the safety of passengers and their data must be guaranteed. Perhaps it is of less concern to the general public, inured to low-working standards over a number of trades, but the working conditions of drivers must be considered also.
At some point there will also be some impetus to deal with the bottom line. Uber makes a lot of money, but it loses a lot more. While this is perhaps acceptable in a young startup with magnetic appeal to investors, at some point this seeming flushing of money down the toilet will be unbecoming to a sizeable publicly-traded institution.
The future seems to be tied up in the self-driving car game – a challenge for Uber, as it is both the area in which they can once more confirm market dominance and one in which they look set to endure years more of heavy losses. Heavy enough that investors, naturally concerned most with what can realistically be made in their lifetimes, are beginning to grow wary of this enterprise.
With Uber’s chief rivals all invested in autonomous car technology, however, it looks to be one of the key battlegrounds of the future. The pressure is on, therefore, to produce something that is viable in the near future, ensuring tragedies such as that of March 2018 do not occur again. All while ensuring that a fleet of 3 million drivers do not abruptly find themselves out of the job.