Uber's revenue revs up, but losses mount to $2.8 billion

As a private company, Uber isn’t obligated to reveal its finances, yet the ride-sharing company is lifting some of the secrecy around its bottom line.

The company said it drove to a $2.8 billion loss last year, although its revenue growth far exceeded its loss. Uber Technologies on Friday said it generated $6.5 billion in revenue last year and its gross bookings doubled to $20 billion. Its adjusted net loss was $2.8 billion, excluding the operation in China it sold last year, Uber said.

Gross bookings surged 28 percent in the fourth quarter to $6.9 billion when compared with the previous quarter, the company said. The disclosures come as the company is struggling with a number of controversies, including charges of sexual harassment from a former female employee and a video that showed CEO Travis Kalanick harshly berating an Uber driver.

“That’s a lot of cash to burn in a quarter,” Evan Rawley, a business professor at Columbia University, told Bloomberg News. He added that the sales growth was encouraging when compared with its losses.  

The company, which is valued at $69 billion, has burned through at least $8 billion since it was founded in 2009, Bloomberg added.

Uber did not provide first quarter figures, but a spokeswoman said they “seem to be in line with expectations.” Uber’s fourth-quarter losses grew to $991 million in the period, as revenues rose 74 percent to $2.9 billion from the third quarter.

In a separate emailed statement, Rachel Holt, Uber’s regional general manager for the United States and Canada, said: “We’re fortunate to have a healthy and growing business, giving us the room to make the changes we know are needed on management and accountability, our culture and organization, and our relationship with drivers.”

The company is in the process of hiring a chief operating officer to help Kalanick manage it, repair its tarnished image and improve its culture.

Two of Uber’s high-level executives recently said they intended to leave, and last week the company’s communications head announced her departure.