Uber Posts Positive Q1 Earnings After Tough 2017

Shuttering of Arizona ops stings as Waymo, Lyft take off.

by on May.24, 2018

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has made an impact on the company in the short time he's been there.

After nearly a year of problems and attempts to rectify them, including the addition of a new CEO, Uber Technologies’ first quarter results reveal some of the positive impact of changes implemented across the ride-sharing company.

Uber reported net income of $2.5 billion on gross bookings of $11.29 billion, an increase of 55% compared with the year-ago period. The company’s net revenue grew 67% to $2.5 billion.

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Much of the company’s positive results can be attributed to the changes implemented by new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and two significant transactions: the sale of GrabTaxi Holdings Pte Ltd. and a joint venture with Yandex N.V.

Excluding those two transactions, the company posted adjusted losses of $577 million, which is narrower than the past four quarters.

(Uber shutting down self-driving operations in Arizona. Click Here for more info.)

Khosrowshahi is attempting different things to make Uber safer and more transparent.

The results beat the company’s internal forecasts and Khosrowshahi said the company will continue to adapt to the market and investigate and invest in new businesses or technologies where it makes sense to do so.

“Given the size of the opportunity ahead of us and our goal of making Uber a true mobility platform, we plan to reinvest any over-performance even more aggressively this year, both in our core business as well as in big bets like Uber Eats globally,” Khosrowshahi said in a statement.

This may be a signal to investors, according to Market Watch, that he plans to continue to run the company at a loss, even as the company prepares to go public in 2019. Khosrowshahi, who joined the company last fall, has spent much of his time putting out fires sparked by his predecessor, Travis Kalanick.

The company has battled in court over allegedly stolen documents and proprietary information with Waymo, dealt with accusations that the company is run like a sexist fraternity house, the revocation of its license in multiple cities, accusations that its drivers have committed dozens of assaults of varying types and that the company used illegal software and other technology to spy on its competitors.

Khosrowshahi has taken on each of these setbacks, including bulking up the company’s driver background checks, brought in new executives to change the culture of the all-boys club, settled the lawsuit with Waymo and changed other policies to make Uber’s operations more transparent.

Uber has been testing prototype autonomous ride-share technology using Volvo's XC90.

The moves have at least secured the confidence some in the investment community. Coatue Management, Altimeter Capital and TPG Capital plant to buy $400 million to $600 million worth of Uber stock from existing investors at $40 a share. The company says that values Uber at $62 billion.

(Click Here for more details about the self-driving Uber test vehicle killing a pedestrian.)

However, if there is one bit of consistency with Uber, it’s that the good news is always tempered with information that sobers the occasional spurts of positive info. In today’s case, it’s the initial findings from the National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation of the collision that killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona.

The company announced yesterday that it was ending its autonomous testing program in Arizona, letting go of 200 employees in the process. The company said it would reinstate its testing programs in Pittsburgh and San Francisco once the NTSB presented its findings from its investigation into the crash.

The first portion of those results came this morning. The query found that because Uber disabled an emergency braking system in the car, it was unable to stop. Additionally, it failed to identify the pedestrian as a pedestrian in time. Initially it identified it as a vehicle, then as a bicycle before finally making the correct choice as a pedestrian.

However, by then there was only 1.3 seconds before impact and the vehicle was unable to brake. The safety driver was not looking ahead, according to video footage, but down toward the wheel or her lap.

An Uber Volvo XC90 was involved in a minor crash during a test program near Phoenix.

The braking system was disconnected in order to reduce the potential for erratic vehicle behavior. The Volvo XC90 is typically equipped with automatic emergency braking systems designed to prevent frontal crashes.

Uber officials did not comment on the findings, but did make note that it named a former NTSB chairman, Christopher Hart, to advise on Uber’s safety culture. “As their investigation continues, we’ve initiated our own safety review of our self-driving vehicles program,” the company said on Thursday, adding it planned to announce changes in the coming weeks.

(To get details about why safety advocates calling for a ban on the name “Autopilot,” Click Here.)

All aspects of the self-driving system were operating normally at the time of the crash, and there were no faults or diagnostic messages, NTSB said. Shutting down the Arizona operations is a crushing blow as rivals Waymo and Lyft are expanding their testing in the state and others. Waymo has given free rides to hundreds of passengers in recent months and Lyft is getting its operations off the ground.

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