Uber Revenue and Usage Statistics (2020)

Mansoor Iqbal

Updated: August 29, 2020

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. It has since, however, fallen out of this listing.

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 an Uber Copter.

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 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. The long-awaited Uber IPO took place in May 2019. Like Lyft before it, the Uber’s financial fortunes seem to have taken a downturn since then. The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 has certainly not helped.

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

Uber Overview and Key Statistics

Uber User and Usage Statistics

Uber Competitors

Uber Controversies 

Uber Driver Statistics

Uber Eats and Self-Driving Car Research

Uber Revenue

Uber Overview

Founded2009
HQSan Francisco, California
PeopleDara Khosrowshahi (CEO), Travis Kalanick (cofounder), Garrett Camp (cofounder)
Company TypePublic (NYSE: LYFT)
IPO date10 May 2019

Key Uber User and Usage Statistics

Uber trips by quarter, millions
Q2 2017889
Q3 2017985
Q4 20171,088
Q1 20181,136
Q2 20181,242
Q3 20181,348
Q4 20181,493
Q1 20191,550
Q2 20191,677
Q3 20191,770
Q4 20191,907
Q1 20201,658

Source: Uber

Average monthly trips per MAPC
Q1 20195.5
Q2 20195.6
Q3 20195.7
Q4 20195.7
Q1 20205.4

Source: Uber

Uber US market share
January 201687%
April 201685%
July 201684%
October 201683%
January 201782%
April 201777%
July 201775%
October 201772%
January 201871%
April 201871%
July 201871%
August 201869%
March 201969%
May 201969%
August 201971%
October 201970%
November 201970%
December 201970%
January 202069%
February 202069%
March 202071%
April 202071%
May 202071%

Source: Second Measure

Uber trips by year
2014140 million
2016*1.8 billion
20173.7 billion
20185.2 billion
20196.9 billion

Source: Forbes, Uber

*2015 data unavailable

Total cumulative Uber trips
March 20161 billion
October 20162 billion
September 20175 billion
September 201810 billion

Source: Uber

Key Uber Financial Statistics

Uber annual revenue (gross bookings), USD billions
201619
201734
201850
201965

Source: Uber

Uber quarterly revenue (gross bookings), USD billions
Q3 20165.4
Q4 20166.9
Q1 20177.5
Q2 20178.7
Q3 20179.7
Q4 201711.1
Q1 201811.3
Q2 201812.0
Q3 201812.7
Q4 201814.2
Q1 201914.6
Q2 201915.8
Q3 201916.5
Q4 201918.1
Q1 202015.8

Source: Uber

Uber annual net revenue, USD billions
20140.4
20151.7
20165.0
20177.9
201811.3
201914.1

Source: Uber

Uber quarterly net revenue, USD millions
Q1 201446
Q2 201457
Q3 2014114
Q4 2014228
Q1 2015274
Q2 2015389
Q3 2015467
Q4 2015560
Q1 2016960
Q2 20161,100
Q3 20161,320
Q4 20161,584
Q1 20171,529
Q2 20171,813
Q3 20172,149
Q4 20172,441
Q1 20182,584
Q2 20182,768
Q3 20182,944
Q4 20182,974
Q1 20193,099
Q2 20193,166
Q3 20193,813
Q4 20194,069
Q1 20203,543

Source: Uber

Adjusted net revenue, USD millions
Q1 20182,423
Q2 20182,574
Q3 20182,656
Q4 20182,644
Q1 20192,761
Q2 20192,873
Q3 20193,533
Q4 20193,730
Q1 20203,256

Source: Uber

Uber gross bookings by segment, USD millions
RidesEatsOther including freightFreightOther*
Q1 20189,3801,47340
Q2 201810,1661,77472
Q3 201810,4882,1111233
Q4 201811,4792,5611263
Q1 201911,4463,0711284
Q2 201912,1883,386182
Q3 201912,5543,65822330
Q4 201913,5124,37421926
Q1 202010,8744,68219821

* Other bets includes e-bikes and e-scooters, Transit, UberWorks, and incubator group

Uber adjusted net revenue by segment, USD millions
RidesEatsOther including freightFreightOtherATG*
Q1 20182,11918340
Q2 20182,22322071
Q3 20182,3401911223
Q4 20182,34216512512
Q1 20192,37723912718
Q2 20192,341337195
Q3 20192,8683922183817
Q4 20193,0364152193525
Q1 20204,4755271993025

*advanced technology group, revenue is collaboration revenue from Toyota

Source: Uber

Uber adjusted EBITDA by segment, USD millions
RidesEatsCore platform*Other inc/ freightFreightOtherATGCorporate G&A and platform R&D
Q1 2018427(20)XX
Q2 2018369(28)XX
Q3 2018416(189)(31)(12)(132)(501)
Q4 2018195(278)(23)(38)(105)(568)
Q1 2019192(309)(29)(42)(113)(568)
Q2 2019506(286)(122)XX
Q3 2019631(316)(81)(72)(124)(623)
Q4 2019742(461)((55)(67)(130)(644)
Q1 2020581(313)(64)(63)(108)(645)

* core platform = rides and Eats

X denotes unreported data

Source: Uber

Uber revenue by region, USD millions
US & CanadaLatin AmericaEMEAAPAC
Q1 20181,387518388251
Q2 20181,493547413244
Q3 20181,734515431264
Q4 20181,797422488267
Q1 20191,895450487267
Q2 20191,776417592276
Q3 20192,407527534345
Q4 20192,536553621359
Q1 20202,142497552352

Source: Uber

Uber annual net profit/(loss), USD billions
2014(0.7)
2015(1.6)
2016(3.2) 
2016 including sale of discontinued operations(0.4)
2017(4)
20181
2019(8.5)

Source: Uber

Uber quarterly net profit/(loss), USD billions
Q3 2016(0.9)
Q4 2016(0.9)
Q1 2017(0.9)
Q2 2017(1.1)
Q3 2017(1.4)
Q4 2017(0.6)
Q1 20183.7
Q2 2018(0.8)
Q3 2018(1)
Q4 20181.1
Q1 2019(1)
Q2 2019(5.2)
Q3 2019(1.1)
Q4 2019(1.1)
Q1 2020(2.9)

Source: Uber

Uber margin as a percentage of ANR
Q1 201931%
Q2 201923%
Q3 201917%
Q4 201916%
Q1 202024%

Source: Uber

Uber valuation/market cap, USD billions
February 20110.1
December 20110.3
August 20133.7
June 201418.2
December 201441.2
July 201551
December 201568
June 201663
December 201748
February 201872
9 May 2019 (IPO)82.4
1 July 201974
23 October 201951.5
6 January 202058.6
6 April 202046.8
6 July56.6

Source: Macrotrends

Uber stock price, USD
10 May 2019 (IPO + 1)41.57
5 July 201943.53
4 October 201929.67
3 January 202031.37
3 April 202022.82
2 July 202030.68

Source: Google

Uber funding rounds
SeriesDateAmountLed by
Seed fundingSeptember 2010$1.58 millionFirst Round
Series AFebruary 2011$14.1 millionBenchmark
Series BDecember 2011$43.8 millionMenlo
Series CAugust 2013$363 millionGV
Series DJune 2014$1.4 billionFidelity
Series EDecember 2014$2.8 billionGlade Brook
Series FJuly 2015$1 billionMicrosoft, Bennett, Coleman, & Co
Series GJune 2016$3.5 billionSaudi Arabia Public Investment Fund
Unknown‘Minimal’Axel Springer
January 2018$9.3 billionSoftbank
August 2018$500 millionToyota
ATG spin-outApril 2019$1 billionSoftbank
April 2019$500 millionPayPal

Source: Craft, Crunchbase, various

Other Key Uber Statistics

  • 5 million drivers, Q4 2019 (Uber)
  • 18.7 million trips per day on average Q1 2020 (Uber)
  • Uber available in over 900 cities globally, in 93 countries (Uber)
  • Uber owns ~37% stake in Yandex Taxi in Russia, ~19% stake in Grab in Southeast Asia, and ~15% share in Didi Chuxing in China (Uber)
  • Uber claims 65% market share in the US and Canada, Latin America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and the Middle East and Africa regions, and a 50% market share in India (Uber)
  • Uber accounted for 12.6% of US business expenses over 2019, and 73.2% of ride-hailing expenses (Certify)
  • Uber rides margin at 23.5% in Q1 2020 (EBITDA vs net revenue) (Uber)
  • Uber Eats margin at -62.8% in Q2 2019 (EBITDA vs net revenue) (Uber)
  • Uber Eats US market share at 22% as of May 2020 (Second Measure)
  • Uber Eats accounted for 25.6% of US business expense receipts for food delivery (Certify)
  • Uber Eats US revenue share estimated to rise to 27% (eMarketer)
  • Average annual spend per consumer on Uber Eats at $220.37 (Slice Intelligence)
  • 15 million Uber Eats users in Q4 2018 (Uber)
  • 3,045 sexual assaults, nine murders, and 58 deaths from accidents during Uber trips in the US, 2017-2018 (Uber via The Verge)
  • Uber investment levels stand at $24.7 billion, pre-IPO
  • Average Uber driver income is $364/month (Earnest)
  • US Uber and Lyft drivers’ median hourly rate can be as low as $8.55 (The Guardian)
  • 40.9% of Uber drivers are women as of 2019, up from 36.1% in 2017 (Statista)
  • Female Uber drivers have been found to make 7% less than male drivers – or $1.24 per hour less (Forbes)
  • Female Uber driver turnover stands at 76% every six months, compared to 60% for men (Forbes)
  • Key rival Lyft brought in $3.6 billion of revenue in 2019 (Lyft)
  • Lyft has 2 million drivers, who serve over 21.2 million active riders per quarter (Lyft)
  • Asian rival Grab is estimated to have brought in $2.3 billion in 2019 (Statista)
  • 36 million riders collectively used Grab 2.5 billion times, served by 2.8 million drivers, as of 2018 (TechCrunch)
  • Chinese rival Didi Chuxing is the biggest international rival, valued at $56 billion (Financial Times)
  • Didi Chuxing claims that its 21 million drivers provide 30 million rides daily (TechNode)

Uber User and Usage Statistics

Uber is available across the world. According to the brand itself, Uber is available in over 900 cities, across 93 countries. Spread across these are 103 million Uber monthly average users (of rides and Uber Eats combined), who are served by a total of 5 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 might note a dip in Uber MAPC in Q1 2020, following Q2 2019’s figure of 111 million, caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Uber MAPC, Q1 2017 – Q1 2020, millions.

Uber MAPC 2017 - 2020

Source: Uber

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, though these Uber stats date as far back as 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 nearly 19 million trips taking place per day, according to our calculations. The five billion mark had been reached as recently as June 2017.

In Q1 2020, 1.66 billion Uber trips were completed. This follows from a high of 1.91 billion the preceding quarter. Annual Uber trips totalled 6.9 billion in 2019, up on 5.2 billion in 2018.

Uber trips per quarter, Q2 2017 – Q1 2020, billions

Uber trips per quarter, billions

Source: Uber

On average, each MAPC made 5.4 trips in Q1 2020, down from 5.7 in Q4 2019.

According to Certify, Uber was the most expensed vendor by US business travellers in 2019 accounting for 12.6% of the total transactions made (share of expense receipts). To put this into perspective, the second-most expensed company was Amazon, claiming a mere 4.9% of the total.

Uber cost

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

Average cost of 10km Uber ride around the world

Source: Champion Traveller

Uber demographics

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

Uber US demographics

Source: GlobalWebIndex

In age terms, we see a similar picture over in London.

Uber London demographics

Uber London demographics

Source: The Telegraph

Uber Competitors

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.

According to Todd W. Schneider, Daily Uber rides in NYC reached their peak level in March 2019, at 556,000 (rising fares are thought to have led to the decline thereafter). Late February 2020 nearly saw a return to this daily peak, with 543,000 daily Uber rides, vs 231,000 taxi rides and 184,000 Lyft rides.

The coronavirus pandemic has of course led to a significant decline, with 103,000 daily Uber rides registered in April 2020, against 38,000 Uber rides. We do not have equivalent figures for taxis.

Uber vs. taxis vs. Lyft rides per day in New York

Uber marketshare NYC, daily trips

 

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 79,000 Uber vehicles were available to New Yorkers in January 2019 (the peak figure), compared to 50,0oo Lyft vehicles (though these peaked in April 2019 at 53,000) and a mere 15,000 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).

In late February, the last month of normal usage, there were 69,000 Uber vehicles on the road, compared to 43,000 Lyft. Interestingly, a month later there were still 66,000 Uber and 40,000 Lyft vehicles, despite the severe downturn in trips. This perhaps serves as a reminder of the precocious nature of this kind of work, for which there is little safety cushion.

We might note that both Uber and Lyft fleets have been gradually declining since hitting peak numbers in 2019, due to the imposition of various regulations in NYC. The number of yellow cabs is a long-term continual decline, with 14,000 in February, down from nearly 20,000 five years prior.

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

Uber NYC fleet size

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

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. The comparison is not totally apt, therefore. This graphic serves as further evidence that taxis struggle to compete, however.

Private hire vs. taxi licences in London

Private hire vs. taxi licences in London

Source: Bloomberg

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

Uber market share India

Source: Statista

Uber markets

Uber claims a 65% market share in the US & Canada, Latin America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and the Middle East and Africa regions, and a 50% in India, as of Q4 2019

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

Uber
Area of operation600 cities in 65 countries worldwide300 US cities, 2 CanadianSoutheast Asia400 Chinese cities, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan
LaunchedMarch 2009June 2012June 2012June 2012
HeadquartersSan Francisco, USSan Francisco, USSingaporeBeijing, China
Users75 million23 million36 million550 million
Drivers3.9 million1.4 million2.6 million (all time)21 million
Rides per day14 million1 million4 million30 million
Total trips 10 billion1 billion2.5 billion7.4 billion in 2017
Revenue $65 billion (gross), $14.1 billion (net)$3.6 billion (2019)$2.8 billion (2019 estimate)$10.9 billion (2017 estimate)
Valuation/market cap$72 billion (investment round, August 2018)

$82.2 billion (IPO, May 2019)

$56.5 billion (July 2020)

$15.1 billion (investment round, June 2018)

$26.6 billion (IPO, March 2019)

$8.6 billion (July 2020)

$14 billion$56 billion

Uber has a 37% share in Yandex in Russia, and 19% stake in Grab in Southeast Asia, and a 15% stake in Didi Chuxing in China.

This table above 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.

The situation with Grab is different, particularly given Uber’s stake in the company. Operating in the huge Southeast Asian market, however, it can post some impressive numbers in terms of user base – albeit not quite as imposing on the financial side. Grab’s CEO Anthony Tan recently reported that he saw no reason for Grab to go public.

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

Figures related to Uber market share vary. 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 71%, Lyft on 29%. These figures have been more or less consistent since early 2018. Before this point, Uber enjoyed a higher share, declining from a high of 87% in January 2016. 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 21% for Lyft, and 5% for ordinary taxis (2019).

Uber then, remains dominant. Lyft has certainly claimed a share, but its initial phase of rapid growth seems to have been curtailed.

Uber vs Lyft, US market share

Uber vs. Lyft market share

 

Source: Second Measure

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 average spend in US

Source: CNBC

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

Uber vs. Lyft share of business travellers by US city

Source: Certify

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 4.7 to Uber’s 4.5 among US business travellers in 2019. These scores are down on Q1 2019, at which point Lyft logged 4.9 and Uber 4.7.

A normal taxi ride has remained consistent at a mere 4.0. Thrifty employers may note that that average taxi rides cost nearly $35, while Lyft and Uber rides average at $25 and $26 respectively.

Uber vs. Lyft rating by business travellers

Uber vs lyft for business travellers

Source: Certify

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

Uber vs. Lyft drivers

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 Controversies

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

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 banPremiums 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 5 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 demographics

Source: Uber

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

Average sharing economy monthly pay

Source: Earnest

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?

How much do Uber drivers make on average per month?

Source: Earnest

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

Ridester Uber driver survey findings

Source: Ridester

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

Best and worst Uber hourly earnings in the US

Source: Ridester

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

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

Uber driver earnings satisfaction

Source: Ridester

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.

Driver satisfaction

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

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?

Preferred type of employment

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

Preferred type of employment

Source: The Rideshare Guy

Uber Eats and Self-Driving Car Research

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 truansport 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 Toyota, Denso, and SoftBank 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. Uber reported 15 million customers in Q4 2018 – we weren’t able to find more recent stats than this.

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 – GrubHub has also seen its markershare fall off. As of May 2020, Uber Eats claimed a 23% share of the US market, according to Second Measure, equal to GrubHub. DoorDash, at 44%, has clearly built an unassailable lead.

Second Measure notes that there may be some conflation issues with Uber rides revenue.

Uber Eats market share in the US

Uber Eats US marketshare

Source: Second Measure

eMarketer predicts that Uber Eats’ market share of revenue in the US will rise to 27%. Slice Intelligence pegs the average annual Uber Eats consumer spend at $220.37.

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

UberEats market share in the US, 2018-19

Source: Fortune

According to SimilarWeb traffic analysis, Uber Eats ranks number 132 in the Google Play Store in the US, and number 5 in the food & drink category. In the latter it ranks 3 in the UK, 1 in France, and 3 in Canada. Of these, it claims the highest overall rank in the UK, where it comes in at 15, then Canada (36) and France (60).

On iOS, Uber Eats ranks 2 in the US food & drink bracket, and comes significantly higher overall, at 41. This higher overall rank can also be found in other key markets, such as France (24), the UK (10) and Canada (17). It  manages to claim the number 1 spot in food & drink in the France, coming 2 in the UK and 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

Weekly UK users of food delivery services

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

Deliveroo/Uber Eats daily users in European markets

Source: Financial Times

Uber Eats claimed a 25.6% share of US business expense receipts for food delivery. This compares to 29.5% for market leader DoorDash, and 27.3% for second-place GrubHub. Notably, Uber Eats is used for smaller orders, with an average spend of $24.59, compared to $54.13 for DoorDash and a huge $60.52 for GrubHub.

Uber CFO Nelson Chai claimed in a February 2019 statement that Uber Freight – a trucking business – was gaining traction in the US. Uber has since began to separate out Uber Freight revenue in its quarterly reports.

Uber Revenue Statistics

Uber gross bookings totalled $15.8 billion in Q1 2020, representing the end of long run of growing quarterly revenue, culminating in Q4 2020’s $18.1 billion. Uber 2019 gross bookings totalled $65 billion, up from $50 billion in 2018.

Gross bookings, however, are not a complete representation of Uber revenue. These do not take into account the small matter of driver’s share of revenue. Uber’s cut is around 25% of gross bookings – so taking this into account, we get what Uber calls the ‘net revenue’ figure.

This gives us a more edifying picture of Uber revenue, coming in at $3.5 billion in Q1 2020. Again, this breaks a long run of Uber revenue growth, down on $4.1 billion in Q2 2019.

Total 2019 Uber net revenue came to $14.1 billion, up from $11.3 billion the previous year.

Uber also gives us a non-GAAP ‘adjusted net revenue’ figure, which comes in at $3.3 billion in Q1 2020, down from $3.7 billion in Q1 2020.

Uber, as we all know by now, runs at a significant loss. Uber loss for Q1 2020 stands at $2.9 billion, at a margin of 24% of net . This is much higher than we have seen in recent times, for which we can blame the coronavirus pandemic, of course.

Q2 2019’s $5.2 billion of loss is related to costs associated with the Uber IPO. Total Uber losses over 2019 came to $8.5 billion. Uber actually posted $1 billion profit in 2018, though this is related of the Q1 2018 sale of regional businesses in Southeast Asia and Russia to Yandex and Grab respectively. These sales were worth an estimated $2.9 billion.

Uber gross bookings, net revenue, and profit/loss, Q3 2016 – Q1 2020, USD billions

Uber gross bookings, net revenue, profit and loss

Source: Uber

Uber EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) as a percentage of ANR (adjusted revenue) had fallen to -16% in Q4 2019, from -31% in Q1 2019. Uber use this figure as indication that it is moving towards long-term profitability, which it had previously envisaged reaching by 2021. The events of Q1 2020 were a setback, with the figure falling to -24%. This measure, it should be noted, is considered deeply problematic as an indication of profitability.

Casting our eyes back, CNBC reported 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.

Slowing growth in Uber revenue has long been earmarked as a potential concern for Wall Street. CNN noted that Q4 2018 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 2018. Naturally we can’t expect explosive early growth to be maintained, yet still investors will no doubt be looking for robust figures. More significant growth in 2019 will be offset by a coronavirus-related slowdown in 2020.

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.

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. Post-IPO, Uber will be required to be more open with investors and regulators alike.

Uber revenue by region 

Breaking Uber net revenue by region, we see that the US & Canada continue to contribute the lion’s share of revenue – 60% in Q1 2020. There’s not a huge distance between EMEA (16%) and Latin American (14%), while the lower 10% of Uber net revenue that comes from APAC represents the strength of competition faced by Uber in this region.

Uber net revenue by region, Q1 2020, USD millions

uber net revenue by region

Source: Uber

We’ve seen the percentage claimed by the US & Canada climb over the last couple of years, from 55% in Q1 2018 to as high as 62% in Q2 2019. It has grown at the expense of Latin American Uber revenue, which fell from 20% to 15% over the course of 2018. Didi Chuxing’s efforts in the region are likely to have contributed to this.

Since this point, the contribution to Uber revenue made by each the four regions has been relatively consistent.

Uber revenue and costs by business area

Uber Eats brought in $4.7 billion of gross bookings over Q1 2020 – around 30% of the total.

Uber gross bookings per segment, Q1 2020, USD millions

Uber gross bookings by section

Source: Uber

Uber Eats has been claiming a greater and greater share of Uber gross bookings revenue. As of Q3 2018, over 17% of Uber’s gross bookings were attributable to Uber Eats, which was already a high enough proportion that it was already said to be masking a decline in the rides segment of the business.

This does not tell the whole picture, however. Uber Eats’ revenue contribution looks considerably less impressive when we look at net. Here it accounts for 10%, while rides accounts for 85% (compared to 69% of gross bookings).

Uber freight is an impressive performer here, accounting for 4% of net revenue, compared to 1% of gross bookings.

Uber net revenue per segment, Q1 2020, USD millions

Uber net revenue by segment

Source: Uber

We can take things a step further by looking at the profitability of segments. Here, we can see that the most mature rides business actually now runs in the black. Uber Eats posts losses of over 150% of its net revenue contribution. Freight on the other hand seems to offer a more reassuring picture.

Even by Uber’s EBITDA against ANR measure, Uber Eats operates at a margin on -62.8%. Rides, on the other hand, is at 23.5%.

Uber profit/loss by segment, Q1 2020, USD millions

Uber profit/loss by segment

So far we’ve only discussed the main revenue generating parts of the business. Here we can see how the true cost of other business areas, such as R&D and the ATG (advanced technology group).

Uber’s self-driving cars research does indeed seem to be something of a black hole for the company, costing an estimated $125-200 million per quarter pre-IPO – 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. 2016 figures 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 alongside Toyota), 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”.

Uber investment

According to Crunchbase, Uber has raised a total of $24.7 billion in funding over 26 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 took place as a 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.

Janaury 2018 saw the sale of $9.3 billion of Uber stock to a SoftBank-led consortium. 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.

Uber’s disappointing IPO has been costly for the biggest later-stage investors. The Saudi Public Investment Fund was reported to be down $1 billion and Softbank by $600 million in September 2019. SoftBank’s losses have been severe enough to threaten the future of its Vision Fund. It would take a significant change in Uber’s fortunes for PayPal to come out of its last-minute investment looking good.

Uber valuation/market cap

In early July 2020, Uber’s market cap stood at $56.6 billion, with Uber stock trading at $30.68 per share. This is up on a few month’s prior. We haven’t really seen a much higher market cap since Uber began trading publicly.

This is some way down on Uber’s pre-IPO valuation. Toyota set Uber’s valuation at $72 billion when making the above-mentioned $500 million investment. This is a $10 billion 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 (well) over $10 billion, Uber classed as a ‘decacorn’.

Uber valuation history

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

Uber valuation vs other ridehailing businesses

Source: Statista

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

most highly valued private startups

Source: The Atlas

Uber IPO

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

tech unicorns value pre ipo

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.

Final thoughts

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 lucrative 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 long-term 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 very shortcuts that eventually ended in controversy.

There’s no telling to what extent a now-public Uber will be able to withstand such shocks. 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. Uber claims that it is on the path to breaking even (claiming pre-coronavirus that we’d see this by 2021), but we must patiently await the evidence. We have seen the rides business enter into the black in a pre-pandemic context, so perhaps it is not an unfeasible as it seems.

Many venture-capital backed loss-making tech startups will be watching closely, to see if the poster boy for this way of doing business proves to be sustainable as an incumbent and not just a disrupter.

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, were beginning to grow wary of this enterprise, before it was spun out (sensibly) pre-IPO.

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 at 5 million drivers do not abruptly find themselves out of the job.

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