Business Technology

Monday 22 April 2019

Last minute sales boost softens blow for new Uber CEO as losses balloon to €3.6bn

New Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi
New Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi

Margi Murphy

Uber's losses widened last year, despite signs that it was pulling back from the brink in the final three months.

Figures from the ride-sharing company showed its losses swelled to $4.5bn (€3.6bn) in 2017, compared to $2.8bn in 2016.

Despite this, Uber managed to narrow its losses in the last three months when compared to the previous year, from $1.46bn in 2016 to $1.1bn in 2017. Sales continued to grow to $7.5bn for the year, a 61pc increase.

The last minute boost will soften the blow for new chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi, who plans to take the ride sharing firm public with its stock market debut in 2019. Mr Khosrowshahi took over from ousted co-founder Travis Kalanick late last year.

The former Expedia boss has vowed to fix the company's work culture and business practices following several years of bad publicity, but his reign has been far from smooth-running.

In November, Mr Khosrowshahi’s first public-facing duty involved announcing that Uber’s database had been hacked in a breach that affected 57 million customers and drivers, and that it kept the leak secret for more than a year. Two of the employees responsible for covering up the breach were let go, including Uber's chief of security, Joe Sullivan.

Read more: Uber's new CEO writes open letter apologising to London for taxi app's mistakes

Mr Khosrowshahi at the time said that he would "not make excuses" for the incident.

But just last week another controversy from Uber's was made public, this time in the shape of a high profile battle over trade secrets with Waymo, Google’s driverless car company. Waymo will get a 0.34pc stake in Uber, worth $245m (£177m) at its latest valuation, in a settlement after taking Uber to court over the allegations.

Waymo claimed that a former employee stole a piece of technology that now forms part of Uber's driverless taxis. It initially sought $1bn but settled last week after just two days in court.

This, along with previous accusations of sexual misconduct among the high ranks and the resignation of the controversial Mr Kalanick, has led to a tumultuous year for for Uber, despite its impressive growth and international expansion.  Japan investors SoftBank stepped in and recently took a 15pc stake in the company by buying shares from early investors at slashed prices, it was reported.

Uber is not required to report its financial results but has been releasing some earnings figures under Mr Khosrowshahi new leadership.

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