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ON THE MEND

What the latest stats from Uber suggest about the future of ride-hailing

Reuters/ Denis Balibouse
On the road to recovery.
  • Michelle Cheng
By Michelle Cheng

Reporter

With social distancing orders in place around the globe, ride-hailing has taken a hit. On a May 7 call with investors, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said the company’s rides business was down 80% in April.

But on the bright side, Uber has started to see week-over-week improvements. It’s now in its fourth consecutive week of growth, albeit it off an unusually small base for the global company.

Here are some of the statistics the company shared in its first-quarter earnings call with investors:

  • US gross bookings just in the past week were up 12% over the previous week, with New York City up 14%, San Francisco up 8%, Los Angeles up 10%, and Chicago up 11%.
  • Gross bookings in large cities across Georgia and Texas, two states that have started to reopen, are up substantially from the lows, by 43% and 50%, respectively.
  • Hong Kong is back to 70% of pre-crisis gross bookings.
  • In France, a survey of riders who used Uber before Covid-19 shows two-thirds expect to take their next Uber ride within a month; 90% expect to be back in an Uber in less than three months, and 98% of all riders say they will take an Uber trip again.

The numbers suggest Uber will see a relatively quick recovery in ride-hailing. Khosrowshahi says Uber is seeing a rebound led by customers who use Uber to commute. (The company has been working with transit agencies and local government officials to provide rides to essential workers.)

Uber’s total first-quarter revenue rose 14% from the year-ago quarter, to $3.54 billion, with a large help from its Uber Eats business, which just last week crossed the $25 billion gross bookings annual run rate. Total gross bookings for the first quarter were up 8% to $15.7 billion, with rides declining 3% and Eats growing 54% year-over-year.

Uber’s net loss widened to $2.9 billion, from $1.1 billion in the first quarter of 2019.

With the recovery being led primarily by commuter trips, that may open up new opportunities for Uber for Business, as more companies look to start moving their employees to and from offices again.

Still, we’re in the early days, and recovery timelines will vary geographically. So it’s hard say if the trend in Uber’s bookings will continue smoothly. But the hints of a recovery is perhaps what investors wanted to hear; Uber’s stock is currently up 11% in after-hours trading.

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