Uber, Losing $1.8 Billion a Year, Reveals I.P.O. Filing
SAN FRANCISCO — Uber, the ride-hailing service that has upended transportation around the world, took a major step toward the largest initial public offering in years when it officially unveiled its finances in a prospectus on Thursday.
The offering, which could value Uber at around $100 billion, is expected to reverberate through global financial markets and to solidify the company’s position as one of the most consequential technology firms of the past decade. The share sale would be the biggest since the Alibaba Group of China began trading on the New York Stock Exchange in 2014, and would peg Uber’s value at more than four times that of United Airlines’s parent and double that of FedEx.
But the prospectus for Uber’s offering renewed questions about how sustainable the company’s business actually is. It said in the filing that it had lost $1.8 billion in 2018, excluding certain transactions, on revenue of $11.3 billion. And the prospectus also showed that Uber’s rocket-ship trajectory for revenue growth was beginning to slow.
One potentially major concern for Uber is that it does not appear set to turn a profit in the near future. In the United States, the company is burning cash as it battles Lyft, cutting prices for passengers and spending to recruit drivers. In other parts of the world, Uber also provides discounts to riders and incentives to drivers as competitors like Ola fight for market share. The company is also investing heavily in businesses such as food delivery and scooters.
To lessen the surprise of its losses when it did finally go public, Uber has disclosed its quarterly results for two years even though, as a privately held company, it was not obligated to do so. Still, the prospectus invites fresh scrutiny, particularly when Uber executives begin meeting with investors on a so-called road show in the coming weeks.
Uber did not disclose in the prospectus the valuation it is seeking from public investors; it was last valued at $76 billion in the private market. Its public offering is being led by Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs. The company’s shares are set to begin trading next month after the road show closes.