Uber reports $980m loss as head of finance exits

SAN FRANCISCO • Uber Technologies has reported big losses for the first quarter even as revenue rose. It has, meanwhile, also announced the exit of its chief financial officer.

The ride-hailing company reported a loss of US$708 million (S$980 million) in the first quarter, excluding employee stock compensation and other items, shrinking from the US$991 million in the previous period.

Revenue was US$3.4 billion, up 18 per cent from the fourth quarter.

Uber also said its head of finance, Mr Gautam Gupta, is leaving the company.

Mr Gupta, who has long served as de facto chief financial officer, helped oversee investor calls and run the finance team, but there have been persistent questions from employees and investors about whether he had the experience to lead Uber through an eventual initial public offering.

Uber said it's now searching for a chief financial officer who can woo Wall Street.

Uber has faced a series of public relations crises this year.

The hashtag #DeleteUber trended on Twitter as hundreds of thousands of users removed the application from their phones in protest against the company's links with US President Donald Trump.

Chief executive officer Travis Kalanick left Mr Trump's business advisory board in response.

Then, after a video of Mr Kalanick arguing with an Uber driver went viral, the embattled CEO said he would seek leadership help.

The firm is also searching for a new chief operating officer and fending off a lawsuit from Alphabet over driverless-car technology.

Its ability to boost revenue and narrow losses even amid the user protests reflects the global nature of its business - most of the app deletions took place in the United States.

The first-quarter financial details and Mr Gupta's exit were reported earlier on Wednesday by The Wall Street Journal.

Uber reports net revenue using generally accepted accounting principles, but this calculation has drawbacks: For its carpool service and in cities where it uses upfront pricing, the company records the entire fare as revenue instead of just the amount Uber keeps from drivers.

Uber, valued at US$69 billion, has raised more than US$15 billion in funding and has spent more than US$8 billion in its seven-year history. In last year's fourth quarter, the company generated US$6.9 billion in gross bookings and US$2.9 billion in net revenue.

For all of last year, Uber's global losses, excluding its China business, totalled US$2.8 billion. The company lost at least another US$1 billion in China last year.

In a note announcing his departure to employees, Mr Gupta said he is leaving to join another San Francisco start-up as chief operating officer, "to take on a new challenge".

Mr Kalanick praised Mr Gupta in an e-mailed statement. "Gautam is a world-class financial talent," the CEO wrote. "Over the last four years, he has been indispensible in helping build Uber from an idea into the business it is today."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 02, 2017, with the headline 'Uber reports $980m loss as head of finance exits'. Print Edition | Subscribe