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.
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…
As well as this 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, and Uber Freight is reportedly gaining traction.
All this is part of a journey to become a ‘superapp’; one for which, says CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, cars will be as books were for Amazon – a mere launchpad in journey toward global business domination. A key step toward this will be the long-awaited Uber IPO – set to take place in May 2019.
If you want to know who uses Uber, how they use it, and how much money the ridesharing giant is bringing in, then read our compilation of Uber statistics below.
Table of Contents
Key Uber Statistics
- Uber is available in 65 countries and over 600 cities worldwide
- 14 million Uber trips are completed each day
- Well over 10 billion trips have been completed worldwide
- Figures vary, but Uber’s market share of the US ride-hailing market is estimated at between 65 and 69%
- 2018 Uber revenue came to $11.3 billion – a 43% increase on 2017, while gross bookings were up 45%, to $50 billion
- Adjusted losses came to $1.8 billion in 2018; including sales of Russian and Asian business to Yandex and Grab respectively, Uber 2018 GAAP losses come to $370 million
- 2017 Uber revenue was $7.5 billion, with adjusted loss of $2.2 billion; Uber GAAP loss came to $4.5 billion in 2017
- Uber investment levels stand at $24.7 billion, pre-IPO
- 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
- Uber drivers number 3.9 million worldwide
- 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 $2.2 billion in 2018
- Lyft has 1.4 million drivers, who have served 23 million passengers over one billion rides
- Asian rival Grab is thought to have brought in $1 billion over 2018
- 36 million riders have collectively used Grab 2.5 billion times, served by 2.8 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 3.9 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).
We don’t have a breakdown of how many are based in the US, and how many in the rest of the world. It has been estimated around a quarter of the driver base are domestic.
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 statistics from the official newsroom indicate that over Uber’s 10 years of operation, 10 billion trips have been completed worldwide (July 2018). This figure is climbing rapidly, with 14 million Uber trips completed each day. Indeed, the five billion mark had been reached as recently as June 2017.
According to Certify, Uber was the most expensed vendor by US business travellers in Q1 2019 accounting for 12% of the total transactions made (not by value, but rather number of transactions). 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 $25.19.
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 skewed by the available level of service being limited to the premium UberBLACK).
Average cost of 10km Uber ride around the world
Source: Champion Traveller
According to GlobalWebIndex Uber statistics , US 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 January 2019, 462,113 Uber rides took place per day, compared to 271,135 taxi rides, and 149,142 Lyft rides.
Uber vs. taxis vs. Lyft rides per day in New York
Source: Todd W. Schneider
One of the reasons Uber competitors have been so roundly beaten here is due to the considerably larger size of its fleet. Around 78,022 Uber vehicles were available to New Yorkers in January 2019, compared to 50,099 Lyft vehicles and a mere 15,280 yellow cabs (the number of vehicles may not be how many Uber drivers there are in NYC – drivers may share or, less likely, own multiple vehicles).
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. Out of the two biggest ride-hailing enterprises, Uber drivers report a far higher ride ratio per vehicle. This might be taken to reflect a gradual professionalisation among Uber drivers, reflective of its increasingly essential role in travel, which in turn must be at least partly credited to its longevity.
The number of Uber vehicles overtook taxis conclusively as far back as August 2015. In 2018 a cap on new private hire vehicle licenses was announced – though that has yet to stop figures creeping up.
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
A more recent report (2017/18) shows roughly unchanged figures, with 114,000 private hire drivers to 24,000 black cab drivers. The mayor of London has also proposed capping the number of private hire vehicles that are able to operate in the city.
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 competitors: Uber vs. Lyft, Grab, and 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 Uber competitors 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 40% of the market in India – the world’s third-biggest. Here, domestic rival Ola is the market leader, with a share of 56%.
Uber market share India
Lyft is the only true direct Uber competitor 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 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. Lyft still saw a 100% increase over 2018 and 168% over 2017. While its IPO has been less successful than anticipated, it would be shortsighted to write it off at this point.
Lyft beat Uber to its IPO by about a month, listing in late March 2019, compared to Uber’s mid-May. Given Lyft’s troubled performance, it remains to be seen whether or not there was any first-mover advantage to be had.
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 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.There are no official Uber statistics, though reportedly its internal metrics showed a 70-72% market share in May 2018.
Alternatively, research firm Second Measure puts Uber’s market share of the ride-hailing market at 69%, Lyft on 29%, and ‘others’ on 2% (March 2019). Edison Trends gives Uber a slightly less favourable market share of 65% to Lyft’s 31% (November 2018).
Another research firm, Certify, looked solely at business travellers, 73% of which used Uber, compared with 22% for Lyft, and 6% for ordinary taxis (Q1 2019).
Uber then, remains dominant, holding around two thirds of the market – though Lyft seems to be catching up.
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 Lyft.
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
Uber’s market share of 12% of business expenses (by volume, not value) compares to a 3.5% Lyft market share, according to Certify.
Business travellers vary in their choice of ride provider across the US. Taxis retain a strong share in certain strongholds – in New York, the market share actually increased from Q1 2018 to Q1 2019 (26.5% to 32%). Chicago taxis hold the second-highest share, at 14%, though have suffered a 10% decline since 2018, falling from 24% to 14%. Both Uber and Lyft have benefited.
These cities are clear outliers, with rideshare firms dominating elsewhere. Aside from home territory in San Francisco, Uber is notably strong in Boston (72%), Dallas (77%), and Miami (77%). In all three it has improved its market share since 2018, chiefly at the expense of taxis.
Lyft has taken some market share from Uber in New York, claiming 15% in Q1 2019, and Atlanta (24% – up from 16%). Essentially though, it seems both ridesharing brands have grown in tandem at the expense of more traditional means of transport.
Uber enjoys the widest lead in Miami, with around 4.5 times as much business traffic as Lyft. The latter comes closest to challenging Uber’s superiority in Atlanta and Chicago, where the ratio is narrowed to 3:1.
Between 2017 and 2018, Lyft gained significant ground on Uber in San Francisco – a 27% swing. It has seemingly lost some of that market share in the intervening year, with Uber climbing from 71% to 78%, while Lyft fell from 28% to 21%. Perhaps the novelty had warn thin?
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 4.9 on average, compared to 4.7 (this compares to 4.8 and 4.4 respectively a year prior). A normal taxi ride is likely to average a mere 4.0.
Uber vs. Lyft rating by business travellers
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. Uber controversy levels 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
Uber also promised to offer 3% of shares to drivers at IPO price when it went public. Despite this, it seems Uber drivers continue to be unsatisfied with their treatment at the hands of their employer, and planned a global strike in the week running up to the Uber IPO.
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 (unsuccessfully) 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 Uber controversy 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
How many Uber drivers are there?
At last count, Uber drivers numbers stood at 3.9 million, according to official Uber statistics. Estimates have pegged the domestic/international ratio at around 1:3.
Who Drives for Uber?
Unfortunately, up-to-date data is not available on the demographic composition of Uber drivers. Official Uber statistics published in an infographic back in 2015 showed 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 Uber 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 – with Uber earnings supplementing 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 Uber earnings for UberX drivers 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 Uber statistics, Uber drivers from Hawaii earned the most per hour, followed by Washington and Minnesota. The worst 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
Uber statistics based on survey of 1,200 drivers conducted in early 2018 by The Rideshare Guy show median Uber 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 the UK, studies have found that Uber earnings for drivers average £5/hour (around $6.50) – well below the minimum wage of £8.21 for over-25 year olds.
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 final piece of the puzzle (supposedly) is the the routes taken and neighbourhoods in which drivers operate.
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.
Uber announced, however, an intention to continue self-driving car research in Pittsburgh, albeit with operations scaled-down. In December 2018, it was announced that Uber had been granted permission to resume tests in Pennsylvania.
All of this research does not come cheap, of course. One estimate set investment levels in autonomous car research at between $125 and $150 million every quarter; with total investment into the research thought to be at least $2 billion. Figures dating back to 2016 set levels at the lower, albeit still high levels of $20 million per month. 2018 levels are set at $457 million, with total investment at around $1 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. Self-driving car research has since been re-designated as a standalone business area, into which a Softbank-led consortium invested $1 billion in March 2019.
In April 2019, it was announced that Uber’s 250 self-driving cars had carried tens of thousands of passengers over millions of miles. As a side note, it seems that automated Ubers will not make your ride cheaper in the short-term at least…
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 its rival 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.
A third name has since entered the race for precedence: and seems to have made quite a splash. In February 2019, it was reported that DoorDash had overtaken Uber Eats to claim a larger share of the US food delivery market
Uber Eats was not alone in losing rank to DoorDash, however – it has also overtaken GrubHub to take the number one spot. While Uber Eats has indeed conceded some of its market share, GrubHub would seem to be the biggest loser here, falling from a position of dominance to a second-position which could quite easily become a third if the decline is not arrested.
While Uber Eats certainly has established itself on the market, moving to become market leader seems to be just out reach. Nonetheless, its growth is impressive and it has certainly come to serve as an essential Uber revenue source.
Uber Eats market share in the US, 2018-19
This is the picture around a year prior, in March 2018. At this point, in nine of the 22-most populous cities in the US, Uber Eats had the edge. As we can see here, GrubHub enjoyed the edge, though Uber Eats seemed to be closing the gap.
These numbers, which come from Second Measure, find a greater disparity between GrubHub and Uber Eats than the above.
Uber Eats market share in the US, 2017-18
According to SimilarWeb traffic analysis, Uber Eats ranks number 85 in the Google Play Store in the US, and number 2 in the food & drink category. In the latter it ranks 2 in the UK, 3 in France, and 4 in Canada. Of these, it claims the highest overall rank in the UK, where it comes in at 64, then France (71) and Canada (83).
On iOS, Uber Eats also ranks 2 in the US food & drink bracket, though it comes slightly higher overall, at 65. This higher overall rank can also be found in other key markets, such as France (38), the UK (51) and Canada (52). It actually manages to claim the number 1 spot in food & drink in the UK, coming 2 in France and 4 in Canada.
Uber announced an intention to roll Uber Eats out to cover 70% of the US by the end of 2018.
While Just Eat currently dominates the UK market, with around 10 times the market share as Uber Eats (September 2018), Uber Eats currently seems to have the edge over London-based Deliveroo.
Uber Eats UK daily user count vs. other food delivery apps
Source: Financial Times
Deliveroo may have the edge over Uber Eats in certain European markets, but the latter enjoys a sizeable lead in France alongside its closer-ran edge in the UK.
Uber Eats daily users in European markets
Source: Financial Times
Uber CFO Nelson Chai claimed in a February 2019 statement that Uber Freight – a trucking business – was gaining traction in the US.
Uber Revenue Statistics
2018 Uber revenue was self reported at $11.3 billion, which represents a 43% increase on 2017 Uber revenue. This came from gross bookings of $50 billion, which itself was a 45% increase on a year prior.
We can see below that gross bookings have continued to grow.
Uber gross bookings by quarter, 2017-18
Source: Financial Times
This figure, however, does not give the full picture of Uber financials. It looks at the total Uber revenue brought in through the app, before the drivers’ cut is taken into account. While it represents business done between the consumer and Uber, it does not reflect the business between drivers and Uber.
CNBC report that Uber’s take rate – the cut it takes from every ride – slipped down in Q4 2018, affecting the proportion of gross bookings that becomes net Uber revenue. This, says Uber, is due to increased competition – which sees Uber subsidising fares to compete with in the US, and in Latin American markets – its fastest growing.
Returning to net revenue (that is Uber revenue after the drivers have taken their share, not overall P&L), while full-year Uber financials look positive from this angle, it has been noted that sales growth slowed throughout 2018. Q4 Uber revenue of $3 billion was up a mere 2% on Q3. Year-on-year, Uber revenue in the last quarter of 2018 was up 25%. This is down on the 38% year-on-year growth reported in Q3. This slowing growth in Uber revenue, says CNN, might be a concern for Wall Street.
Uber revenue by quarter, 2017-18
Like Travis Kalanick before him (Uber reportedly burned through $11 billion before 2018), it is thought current CEO Dara Khosrowshahi places more stock in growth than balancing the books; this is perhaps a good stance to take when we consider current Uber financials. Khosrowshahi has gone so far as to say he does not move towards profitability too quickly, rather investing in growth areas like food and freight.
Adjusted Uber loss for 2018 came to $1.8 billion – though this, it should be noted, is an improvement on the $2.2 billion reported in 2017 (one of 15% to be precise). The official Uber financials released, it should be noted, are not GAAP measures, but adjusted earnings before tax. If we used GAAP measures, net loss for 2017 comes in a considerably more sizeable $4.5 billion.
Uber losses by quarter, 2017-18
Source: Financial Times
There’s no equivalent official figure for 2018 that excludes the sale of Uber’s Russian business to Yandex, and its Southeast Asian business to Grab. Factoring these two sales in gives us GAAP losses of $370 million. These deals, which occurred in Q1 2018 were reportedly worth $2.9 billion to Uber, so we can perhaps work out the relevant Uber financials for ourselves.
These sales account for the one quarter in which Uber is in the black below.
Uber gross bookings, revenue, and profit/loss by quarter 2017-18
Bloomberg notes that certain details of Uber statistics pertaining to financial performance are still fairly opaque; for instance, an unexplained tax windfall in the fourth quarter of 2018, which helped mitigate losses.
For a bit of further context, the below graphic looks at historical Uber performance. Here we can see the staggering growth against which current quarterly performance is rated.
We might note that, for what’s it worth, that the growth seems to be uneven, with steady and rapid growth alternating , with the occasional huge leap taking Uber revenue to different level. 2014 and 2015 are particularly impressive years in this respect.
We might also bear in mind that is only from 2017 that we have recourse to official Uber statistics (with the Uber IPO looming). Prior to this, leaks were principal way in which Uber financials were brought to light. Perhaps another motivation to release official Uber revenue statistics…
Uber historical revenue by quarter
Data source: Investing.com
Uber revenue and costs by business area
As of Q3 2018, over 17% of Uber’s gross bookings could be attributed to Uber Eats, which is thought to be masking an overall slowdown in the main business. Notably, Uber did not break out separate figures for this business area in Q4 2018 – clearly the role Uber Eats is bolstering Uber financials is a cause for concern.
Uber’s self-driving cars research, on the other hand, 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. This figure is perhaps on the high side, however. Figures pertaining to 2016 pegged investment at a monthly $20 million, while the 2018 levels was estimated to be $457 million.
This compares to $384 million in 2017, and $230 million in 2016, coming to a total of over a $1 billion.
In March 2019, Uber secured $1 billion in investment (led by Softbank), and restructured the company in order to designate driver-less car research as a separate corporate entity, valued at $7.25 billion.
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 $24.7 billion in funding over 23 rounds. The most recent of these was announced in April 2019: a $500 million investment from PayPal in the run up to the Uber IPO. This will reportedly take place as concurrent private placement at the IPO price. A financial services element to Uber’s services will be key if Uber fulfils plans to become a ‘superapp’, offering a range of logistics and transportation services.
Excluding debt refinancing worth $2 billion in October 2018, the last significant funding round 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.
The biggest was a $9 billion investment led by Japan’s SoftBank in early 2018 ($8 billon from existing shareholders, and $1.25 billion directly into the company), which holds a 15% stake in Uber as a result.
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.
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is also an investor, with his $3 billion stake estimated to be worth $400 million at the time of the Uber IPO.
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
Source: Financial Times
$72 billion may seem eye-watering, but it seems Uber was targeting an even higher valuation of $120 billion when it went public. In the run-up to the Uber IPO, this was rounded down to a more plausible $90 billion. This fell even further to $82 billion when it came to the event itself, with shares priced towards to bottom end of the $44-50 range touted.
It is thought the worse-than-expected performance of the Lyft IPO may have informed this decision. This would still put Uber in the top-three most-valuable firms to debut on a US exchange (after Alibaba and Facebook).
It still leads the way in terms of valuation in the ride-hailing market, with only Didi Chuxing coming close to it.
Notably this dates back to before March 2019’s Lyft IPO. As of early May 2019, the Lyft market cap stood at $17.2 billion.
Uber valuation pre-IPO compared to other ride-hailing businesses
Prior to the Uber IPO, it was one of the world’s most valuable private startups, with only Ant Financial able to secure a higher valuation. Since the production of this graphic, TikTok creator ByteDance also secured a higher valuation than Uber, at $75 billion.
Uber valuation vs. other privately-held startups
Source: The Atlas
Papers for an Uber IPO were filed in April 2019, not too long after chief US rival Lyft itself first listed on NASDAQ. Uber will be listing on the New York Stock Exchange.
A CFO and COO have been hired by Khosrowshahi, the search for the former being a longstanding challenge in terms of taking Uber public.
The Uber IPO is one of the biggest of all time; of other tech unicorns, only Alibaba’s $179 value at the time of going public in 2014 and Facebook’s $115 billion are in excess of the $82.2 billion value of the Uber IPO.
The below graphic was produced before the later rounding down of the Uber IPO from $120 billion to $82.2 billion.
Unicorn IPO valuations
Source: Markets Insider
Reports indicate that the Uber stock sold out within three days of going on an investor road show at the end of April/beginning of May 2019, with all 180 million shares snapped up by eager investors. It should be noted that the same applied to Lyft, which subsequently experienced a difficult first month of trading.
The company intended to raise $8-10 billion from the Uber IPO, with Uber stock priced at $44-50 a share. In the end, Uber IPO price was set at $45, giving a value of $82.2 billion, and raising a total of $8.1 billion.
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 underfunded 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 in the West and several other global markets for now. Whatever the fate of the Uber IPO, it would take something big to erode this lead in the shorter-term.
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 address the current state Uber financials. 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 feckless approach to money in the name of ‘growth’ 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. Perhaps spinning it out as its own entity will go some way to addressing this.
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 nearly million drivers do not abruptly find themselves out of the job.