Uber Files Highly Anticipated IPO

No word on share price

The company will trade on the New York Stock exchange under the ticker UBER. Getty Images, Uber
Headshot of Kelsey Sutton

The ride-hailing and ride-sharing company Uber filed an initial public offering today, ending months of anticipation and teeing up the company’s New York Stock Exchange debut.

Public documents filed with the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission gave a window into the massive company’s operations, including where it sees its biggest opportunities for growth. Missing from the filing, however, was the much-anticipated asking price for shares.

Uber’s IPO filing comes about a month after its largest competitor Lyft filed IPO paperwork and comes amid a spate of other tech IPOs.

The company, which plans to trade on the New York Stock exchange under the ticker UBER, made $11.3 billion in revenues in 2018, a 42% increase from the $7.9 billion in revenues the company raked in in 2017. The company’s net income was $997 million in 2018, compared to a $4 billion loss in 2017, according to the filings.

Uber estimates that it gave rides to about 2% of the populations in each of the 63 countries (and more than 700 cities) in which it operates, and that the 26 billion miles in rides it gave to customers in the last quarter of 2018 represent less than 1% of the total rides taken in those markets. According to Uber, those percentages represent a “massive market opportunity” for continued growth. The company estimated that the total addressable market in its “personal mobility” category (i.e. car services and ride-sharing) was $5.7 trillion across 175 countries.

“Uber is a once-in-a-generation company, and the opportunity ahead of it is enormous,” Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi wrote in a letter released as part of the IPO.

Uber’s other focuses include its meal delivery via Uber Eats; gross bookings of which totaled $7.9 billion in 2018; and trucking services, which grossed $359 million in 2018. Uber estimates that the meal delivery market could total $795 billion, pegging Uber Eats at about 1% market penetration. For Uber Freight, the number was even smaller at less than 0.1%.

Uber’s plans for growth include amping up ride-sharing services in existing markets; expanding into new markets; investing in and expanding Uber Eats and Uber Freight; and investing in new tech and making acquisitions as necessary.

The company is also emphasizing its investment in autonomous driving technologies, noting that they will be “deployed gradually.” The company’s drivers, 3.9 million of which gave Uber users more than 1.5 billion trips in the fourth quarter of 2018, will remain key to the company’s continued growth, the company said.

But the company would like to keep those drivers at arm’s length. According to filings, Uber said its business would be negatively affected if its network of drivers were classified as employees instead of independent contractors, and the company identified impending lawsuits and investigations into the status of its drivers as a point of concern.

“We believe that drivers are independent contractors because, among other things, they can choose whether, when and where to provide services on our platform, are free to provide services on our competitors’ platforms, and provide a vehicle to perform services on our platform,” the filing reads. “Nevertheless, we may not be successful in defending the independent contractor status of drivers in some or all jurisdictions.”

Uber will offer a one-time cash payout to certain eligible Uber drivers at the end of April, the filing said. Those drivers will receive either $100, $500, $1,000 or $10,000 based on the number of drives they have completed. They will not receive stock in the company.

Uber, which has been wildly unprofitable since its inception, noted that its significant operating losses might not go away any time soon. The company incurred a $4 billion operating loss in 2017 and a $3 billion loss in 2018. The company has racked up an accumulated deficit of $7.9 billion, the filings said.

“We will need to generate and sustain increased revenue levels and decrease proportionate expenses in future periods to achieve profitability in many of our largest markets, including in the United States, and even if we do, we may not be able to maintain or increase profitability,” the filing read.

Uber also noted the spate of allegations about sexual harassment and discrimination in the company workplace and organized efforts to delete the app. The company plans to release a transparency report this year to “public with data related to reports of sexual assaults and other safety incidents claimed to have occurred on our platform in the United States.”

@kelseymsutton kelsey.sutton@adweek.com Kelsey Sutton is the streaming editor at Adweek, where she covers the business of streaming television.