Uber loss narrows as it hopes to rev shared rides

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) – Uber on Wednesday reported that it narrowed its quarterly loss by selling its self-driving tech unit and said its pandemic-battered ride share business is starting to regain speed.

The San Francisco-based company said its net loss in the recently ended quarter shrank to USD108 million, with help from the sale of its automated driving unit for USD1.6 billion. A year ago, Uber’s loss was a staggering USD2.9 billion.

Overall bookings at the company grew 24 per cent to USD19.5 billion, driven by strong growth in its Uber Eats delivery unit.

The mobile unit that includes smartphone-summoned car rides saw gross bookings of USD6.8 billion, down some 38 per cent from the same period last year, the earnings report showed.

Overall bookings at Uber topped expectations, with ridership improving during the quarter, according to Chief Financial Officer Nelson Chai.

A traveller rides in the back of an Uber vehicle at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles. PHOTO: AP

“Uber is starting to fire on all cylinders, as more consumers are riding with us again while continuing to use our expanding delivery offerings,” Uber Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi said in the earnings release.

Uber shares dove more than four per cent in after-market trades that followed release of the earnings figures. “As we move out of the depths of the pandemic, Uber’s business is on a clear path to recovery,” said e-marketer analyst Eric Haggstrom.

“However, as countries emerge from lockdowns, consumer demand as well as driver supply are major for their delivery businesses.”

Last month, Uber said it was adding some USD250 million as a “stimulus” to help get more drivers on the road to meet growing demand for rides.

The sum will be used to boost United States (US)-based driver earnings, which are already higher than usual due to less competition from peers at the service, according to Uber.