Uber has unveiled its plans for one of the biggest tech IPOs in history as the company plows ahead with its mission to “set the world in motion”.
Uber filed its S-1 this week, the first step in its journey to list on the New York Stock Exchange under the “UBER” ticker. It has not yet revealed the valuation that it will be targeting with the listing, but it is believed that about $US10 billion in stock will be on offer.
Uber is likely to gain an initial market value of between $US90 and $US100 billion, which would make it the 30th most valuable public company in the US.
If Uber does sell $US10 billion-worth of stock, it will be the eighth largest IPO of all time in the US.
In a letter accompanying the S-1 filing, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who took on the top job in 2017, said the move would bring with it “greater responsibilities”.
“Building this platform has required a willingness to challenge orthodoxies and reinvent – sometimes even disrupt – ourselves,” Khosrowshahi wrote.
“Over the last decade, as the needs and preferences of our customers have changed, we’ve changed too. Now we’re becoming something different once again: a public company.”
The filing disclosed a range of financial information on the tech giant.
It showed that Uber generated $US11.27 billion in 2018, up by 42 percent from 2017 and 193 percent from the year prior.
The large majority of this – $US9.2 billion – came from its ridesharing offering, while UberEats generated $US757 million and Uber Freight made $US125 million in the fourth quarter alone.
The food delivery offering has enjoyed particularly rapid growth of late, growing from $US103 million in 2016 to now making up 13 percent of the company’s total revenue.
But despite the huge revenue, Uber lost $US1.8 billion in the last year.
“We will not shy away from making short-term financial sacrifices where we see clear long-term benefits,” Khosrowshahi said.
As of the end of the last year, the company had $US6.4 billion on hand, but $US6.9 billion worth of long-term debt.
The company also warned that it expects operating expenses to “increase significantly in the foreseeable future” and that it “may not achieve profitability”.
Uber will be offering some of the shares to 1.1 million of its drivers who have completed at least 2500 trips, with shares on offer at the IPO price.
In terms of risks, Uber identified the ongoing struggle over the definition of its workers, admitting that if they were to be defined as employees this would have an “adverse effect on [the] business and financial condition”.
The filing also acknowledged the bad press that has surrounded Uber in recent years.
In mid-2017 Uber co-founder and then-CEO Travis Kalanick was forced to step down from the company following a series of allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination internally, and revelations his risk-taking attitude had put the company and its employees at risk on multiple occasions.
Kalanick remained on the company’s board – the IPO filing revealed he still owns 8.6 percent of Uber’s pre-IPO shares, valued at about $US9 billion if Uber achieves a $US100 billion valuation.
Uber has also been dogged by lawsuits over its classification of its workers as contractors rather than employees and a number of other controversies, including a huge global data breach which it tried to cover up.
Khosrowshahi acknowledged the controversy that Uber has generated throughout its rapid growth into a tech giant.
“In getting from point A to point B we didn’t get everything right,” he said.
“Some of the attributes that made Uber a wildly successful startup – a fierce sense of entrepreneurialism, our willingness to take risks that others might not, and that famous Uber hustle – led to missteps along the way.
“In fact, when I joined Uber as CEO, many people asked me why I would leave the stability of my previous job [CEO of Expedia] for one that was anything but. My answer was simple: Uber is a once-in-a-generation company, and the opportunity ahead of it is enormous.”
Uber will be kicking off its investor roadshow at the end of April, with the listing slated for 10 May. The IPO is being led by Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs.