Uber is shedding its wild bets to double down on ride-hailing and delivery. Why?

CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is unloading all of Uber’s non-core assets (flying taxis, scooters, self-driving cars) to focus on what the ridesharing service does best.


December 14, 2020

Since its founding in 2009, a valuation question has hung over Uber: is it taking on the $100B cab industry — or going after the much bigger $1T+ “any-car-for-hire” opportunity?

Under its previous (and much-maligned) CEO Travis Kalanick, Uber made countless bets in various industries to expand its total addressable market.

For the most part, those bets have floundered — and current CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is scaling back the company’s wildest ambitions.

Uber has unloaded lots of non-core assets…

… and, as highlighted by Protocol, those sales have recently accelerated:

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  • Self-driving vehicles: A week ago, Uber parted with its autonomous driving division, aptly dubbed the Advanced Technology Group (ATG), in a transaction with Aurora Innovation.
  • Flying cars: Also last week, it shed its air taxi business to Joby Aviation.
  • Electric bikes: Over the summer, Uber transferred its bike and scooter division to Lime in exchange for a $170m investment.

As part of the Aurora deal, Uber will make a $400m investment in the company, amounting to a 26% stake.

Uber will retain minority stakes in Joby and Lime — but won’t have to recreate all those technologies Kalanick poached from probably one too many viewings of Blade Runner and Back 2 The Future Part II.

However, Uber is still in the red

In fact, its most recent quarter showed a loss of $1B+.

Even so, the renewed focus — combined with its controversial Prop 22 ballot victory, which allows Uber to keep treating its drivers as contractors and not employees — has boosted its stock by 50%+ since end-October to a market cap of $93B.

This isn’t Khosrowshahi’s first rodeo

The 51-year-old Iranian-American built Expedia into an online travel powerhouse, growing its value from $7B to $23B between 2005 and 2017.

Khosrowshahi recently told the New York Times he wants Uber to “become the undisputed leaders in mobility and delivery.”

Those two markets are huge, with or without the wild bets.

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