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Uber may end up as the worst tech IPO in 2019

Just as we were hoping that Uber is past its blunders and nightmares, reports emerged yesterday of a cabby driving his Uber car down a stairway and getting stuck outside a parking lot in San Francisco. The driver said he was on the way to pick his passenger and, thankfully, no one was hurt this time!

Bad news seems to be in an affair with Uber, which is continuing its miserable run to the planned IPO next year. In yet another blow, the company that supplies camera and radars to Uber’s self-driving cars recently clarified that Uber had disabled its collision-avoidance technology at the time of the Arizona accident. Had the technology been enabled, the outcome might have been different. Uber has so far not commented on this.

Separately, the Arizona governor suspended Uber’s permit to test self-driving vehicles in the wake of the fatality. Uber, meanwhile, also suspended testing in other cities including Pittsburgh, Toronto, and San Francisco.

An Uber taxi on the road
Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Asia operations restricted to India

Amidst dwindling support and trust, the online cab aggregator sold its assets and operations in a growing Southeast Asian market to rival Grab, in return for a 27.5% stake in the company. The company announced the exit from eight countries in the region — Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam — to focus on other key markets including India, Middle-East, Europe and the Americas. The $700 million investment the company had made in the region apparently did not yield the desired results.

The move comes after Uber sold its China business in 2016 to competitor DidiChuxing, and also exited Russia last year. The withdrawals have become a stain onUber’s popularity as a global technology giant.

Amidst dwindling support and trust, the online cab aggregator sold its assets and operations in a growing Southeast Asian market to rival Grab, in return for a 27.5% stake in the company.

While there were speculations that Uber would also exit India where it has invested more than $1 billion, the latest round of withdrawals suggests Uber may instead double down in this market. However, India continues to be a challenging market for the company, due to tight competition from Bengaluru-based start-up Ola, which has a presence in about 110 cities (Uber operates in only about 30). Profitability is also lower here compared to its other markets.

Going by the current trend of barraging negative reports, Uber is not expected to have an attractive IPO as it had planned earlier. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has a deadline of one year to turn the company around before that happens.

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