There’s yet to be any real evidence that Uber’s business model will ever do anything other than burn investors’ money to make traffic worse.
The sharing economy, fueled by the internet’s capacity to match small buyers and sellers, looks like a revolutionary business model. But for this model to be sustained, there must be a reliable source of long-term profits. Ride-hailing is perhaps the application of the sharing economy that is currently most developed, so its success or failure will teach us a great deal about the model’s viability in the global business landscape.
At some point, you have to make a profit.
It also ads a cynical angle to “disruption” that’s often omitted: you have to burn a lot of money, maybe even 5 or 10 year’s worth. Older companies often can’t do this without a huge financial and share-holder toll.
“But what Uber lacked in political support it made up for in local popularity. Through its app, the company had a direct connection to thousands of riders and drivers who were making a living from its service.”
Original source: How Tech Companies Conquered America’s Cities
“Amazon.com Inc. is famous for its losses over the years. But even in the heyday of the dot-com bubble, the e-commerce giant never came close. Amazon’s biggest loss was in 2000—a $1.4 billion embarrassment, or about $2 billion adjusted for inflation. Most years, Amazon turns a profit, albeit a small one. What Uber backers can point to, though, is a nearly unmatched pace of sales growth. Even as Uber’s revenue reached $2.3 billion in the fourth quarter of 2017, its annual growth rate remained strong, at about 90 percent compared with 2016. That’s faster than most tech companies with a similar valuation. Only one U.S. tech company of Uber’s size, Micron, grew at anything close to that last year.”
Original source: Uber Spent $10.7 Billion in Nine Years. Does It Have Enough to Show for It?
“I can live without Facebook. I can mange without Google, but given my inability to (and more importantly lack of desire) to drive, I cannot survive without Uber.”
Original source: Uber, Lyft & the roads of hell
‘This is not “sharing” economy; these are fully professionalised marketplaces.’
Original source: New Economy, Meet Old Continent
“About 103,000 for-hire vehicles operate in the city, more than double the roughly 47,000 in 2013, according to the Taxi and Limousine Commission. Of those, 68,000 are affiliated with ride-hailing app companies, including 65,000 with Uber alone, though they may also provide rides for others. In contrast, yellow taxis are capped by city law at just under 13,600.”
On the other hand, it’s probably easier to get around, even if slower. And, you know, how are you gonna solve for the density of Manhattan, esp. if people don’t want to foot the bill for lots of mass transit?
Link to original
How all these unprofitable companies sustaining high valuations:
bending reality today has three elements: a vision, fast growth, and financing.
A few firms other than Amazon have defied the odds. Over the past 20 years Las Vegas Sands, a casino firm, Royal Caribbean, a cruise-line company, and Micron Technology, a chip-maker, each lost $1bn or more for two consecutive years and went on to prosper. But the chances of success are slim. Of the current members of the Russell 1000 index, since 1997 only 37 have lost $1bn or more for at least two years in a row. Of these, 21 still lose money.
is on track to exceed $5.5 billion this year (2016)
Lots of charts that show a large percentage of workers leave after a year. Also, as better jobs come about, if wages don’t rise in gig jobs, churn will be even higher:
“It doesn’t look like [gig work] is becoming more lucrative for people,” says Fiona Greig, co-author on the JPMorgan Chase Institute report. “As the labor force strengthens in general, more and more people have better options.”
In the first quarter of this year, Uber lost about $520 million before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, according to people familiar with the matter. In the second quarter the losses significantly exceeded $750 million, including a roughly $100 million shortfall in the U.S., those people said. That means Uber’s losses in the first half of 2016 totaled at least $1.27 billion.
Bookings grew tremendously from the first quarter of this year to the second, from above $3.8 billion to more than $5 billion. Net revenue, under generally accepted accounting principles, grew about 18 percent, from about $960 million in the first quarter to about $1.1 billion in the second.
It’s expensive to start a global, meat-space business, even if you’re “assetless”:
Uber, which is seven years old, has lost at least $4 billion in the history of the company.
I find the continuous usage of Uber as an example of “the way forward” in business unhelpful. Not because it’s not an interesting business, but because without these kinds of numbers in context, you think it’s easy. If you’re prepared to burn through $4bn before profit, sure thing!
The advantage established businesses should have is less spending to build a market: they just need to do better serving their existing customer base at first, not spend all that money to start from zero. What I find devilishly fascinating is why it’s so hard for those large organizations to take advantage of the assets they already have and why, possibly, it’s easier just to start from scratch, as Uber has been doing with that $4bn.
Starting later this month, Uber will allow customers in downtown Pittsburgh to summon self-driving cars from their phones, crossing an important milestone that no automotive or technology company has yet achieved. Google, widely regarded as the leader in the field, has been testing its fleet for several years, and Tesla Motors offers Autopilot, essentially a souped-up cruise control that drives the car on the highway. Earlier this week, Ford announced plans for an autonomous ride-sharing service. But none of these companies has yet brought a self-driving car-sharing service to market.