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Uber Profits Up Despite Chaotic Year

Sexual harassment, an overthrown chief executive, bitter boardroom in-fighting and a major lawsuit have not affected Uber’s business. Quite the opposite.

Figures published by news website Axios (which the BBC has confirmed are accurate) show the ride-sharing company’s revenues are increasing, its losses are narrowing, and global bookings are up 150% on this time last year.

It means the most talked-about company in Silicon Valley has been apparently unscathed by the unprecedented series of scandals that have engulfed the company in 2017.

Uber posted revenue of $1.75bn in the three months to June, with losses dropping by 9% in the same period, to the still staggering figure of $645m.

Investors will gloss over those losses, though, as most other key metrics are moving in a positive direction. Ride bookings were up 17% on the previous quarter. Globally, in all of its markets, trips are up 150% on this time last year.

The figures may be seen as a rare glimmer of positive news for the company, but a greater test will come over time as the company continues to struggle filling crucial executive positions after a spate of high-profile departures.

Former General Electric boss Jeff Immelt is the rumoured front-runner for the chief executive post. These strong financial figures may make that recruitment task easier, but the company is also looking for a chief operating officer, chief financial officer and president, among others.

Travis Kalanick, who was forced to resign after pressure from some board members, was still in charge for most of the second quarter, and so it remains to be seen how the company has truly been affected by the turmoil at the top.

In Uber’s boardroom, in-fighting has taken a dramatic recent turn, with major investor Benchmark Capital suing ousted chief executive Travis Kalanick.

Benchmark accuses Mr Kalanick of fraudulently filling Uber’s board with loyal associates, paving the way for his return as chief executive. In retaliation, other board members called for Benchmark to booted out.

And while still by far the world’s dominant ride-sharing platform, the firm’s market shared is being squeezed in cities with significant competition, mostly from Lyft.

Analysis by The Information showed that in places with “high concentrations of technology employees”, who were more likely to be following Uber’s woes, use of Lyft instead of Uber had increased considerably.

But overall, these figures represent Uber’s staying power. The service has cemented itself globally as an indispensable part of many people’s everyday lives and, despite it all, shows no sign of being in trouble.


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