SAN FRANCISCO — Uber is providing a look under the hood of its business in the lead-up to its hotly anticipated debut on the stock market, revealing strong growth but still struggling to overcome huge losses.

Documents released Thursday offered the most detailed view of the world’s largest ride-hailing service since its inception a decade ago. The unveiling comes four months after Uber took its first step toward its initial public offering with a confidential filing.

The massive filing shows Uber has been generating the robust revenue growth that entices investors, but also racked up nearly $8 billion in losses over its 10 years in existence, which mirrors the same trend challenging Lyft, Uber’s main rival in the U.S.

Uber’s revenue totaled $11.3 billion in 2018, a 42 percent increase from $7.9 billion in 2017, and a giant leap from $495 million in 2014.

The company posted a profit of $997 million last year, but that doesn’t mean its ride-hailing service suddenly started to make money – far from it. The positive result stemmed from a windfall that Uber generated from the sale of its operations in Russia and Southeast Asia. The company said it sustained an operating loss of $3 billion.

The San Francisco company also disclosed a legal cloud hanging over its head as government authorities and regulators investigate whether the company broke any laws.

Among other things, Uber revealed the U.S. Justice Department is conducting a criminal investigation into a yearlong cover-up of a massive computer break-in during 2016 that heisted personal information belonging to millions of passengers and drivers.

The probes are among the many risks that investors must weigh as they mull whether to jump into one of the biggest IPOs in years.

Reaching profitability has proven to be a challenge for both Uber and Lyft. Paying drivers is a huge expense, and Uber’s fierce competition with Lyft for customers has led both companies to offer rides below cost. Drivers for both companies complain about declining wages, and they can easily switch between platforms, making it difficult for either company to further reduce driver costs and keep fares cheap for passengers.

That unprofitable history may force Uber to eventually raise its ride-hailing prices unless it can reduce its costs by shifting to driverless cars or expand into other markets and lines of business.

Lyft beat Uber to the stock market last month with an IPO that raised $2.3 billion, but its shares have been backsliding after an early run-up. Lyft’s stock currently is hovering around $61, down from its IPO price of $72.

 

 

 

 

 


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