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Uber Reports Record Revenue as It Defies the Economic Downturn

Uber indicated on Wednesday that it had staved off the downturn that hit many technology companies while posting what Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s chief executive, called the company’s “strongest quarter ever.”

Uber reported $8.6 billion in revenue in the last three months of 2022, a 49 percent increase from the same period a year ago, when the Omicron variant of the coronavirus dampened travel. The company made $30.7 billion in gross bookings — the amount of money paid by customers — a 19 percent year-over-year jump.

The company said it had tallied two billion trips in a quarter for the first time, up from 1.7 billion a year ago, and it saw an 11 percent increase in the number of customers who use Uber each month, to 131 million.

The results slightly exceeded the expectations of Wall Street analysts. Uber’s stock rose 7 percent in premarket trading.

Even as other tech companies like Google, Meta and Microsoft have announced widespread layoffs and slashed costs, Uber’s business has stayed relatively steady, and Mr. Khosrowshahi said last month at the World Economic Forum in Davos that he was not anticipating companywide layoffs.

Companies that offer internet-based services, like social media and video conferencing, boomed during the pandemic but have slowed since lockdowns ended. By contrast, Uber, which makes much of its money offering rides to people, cut about 7,000 employees in 2020 while people were stuck at home, but rebounded as the world reopened and people began carrying on with their normal lives.

“All of those other tech companies in hindsight now look to have overhired during the digital boom of the pandemic when we were all stuck inside using digital services,” said Tom White, a senior research analyst with the financial firm D.A. Davidson. The businesses of companies like Uber and Lyft were “depressed” during that time, he said.

Uber reported $595 million in profit thanks to its stakes in other ride-share companies. The company said it expected to achieve operating income profitability at some point this year, which would be a sign of growing strength in its business.

Uber was one of the first tech companies to warn of an economic downturn. Last May, Mr. Khosrowshahi told employees that the company needed to rein in spending and focus on becoming profitable to adjust to a “seismic shift” in the economy and investors’ priorities.

Since then, Uber has enacted some cost-cutting measures. This month, about 150 employees were laid off from Uber Freight, a booking service for long-haul truck shipments. Lior Ron, the Uber Freight chief executive, told employees it was a move brought about by economic conditions. The layoffs were reported earlier by CNBC.

Lyft, which will release its quarterly financial results on Thursday, has also worked to reduce costs. In November, the company laid off 650 employees, and last month it shuttered Lyft Delivery — a small pilot program — because of budget constraints, according to three people with knowledge of the program’s cancellation.

Mr. Khosrowshahi said in a statement that Uber would continue to be careful with spending. “We will maintain this rigor throughout 2023 and beyond to deliver healthy growth with minimal head count addition,” he said.

Sumber: www.nytimes.com