Uber's Q2 highlights COVID-19 economy shifts, worries

Uber's financials are better suited to be an economic barometer instead of any fundamental analysis.

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Uber reported a net loss of $1.8 billion in the second quarter as revenue fell 29%, but the results also highlight significant shifts in the COVID-19 economy.

Perhaps Uber's financials are better suited to be an economic barometer instead of any fundamental analysis.

Consider that Uber revenue was $2.24 billion, down 29% from a year ago, as trips on the platform cratered 56% to 737 million. Based on those percentages it's safe to assume that Uber is a train wreck. Indeed, the company has restructured heavily as it navigates the new normal.

But as Uber's partnership with ServiceNow shows, the company is innovating and coming up with new approaches that work for both businesses and consumers. For now, let's just ponder the way Uber's business has shifted to reflect what's going on in the global economy.

To wit:

  • Monthly active platform customers fell to 55 million, down 44% from a year ago, but Uber still managed to post positive mobility adjusted EBITDA.
  • Mobility revenue was $790 million in the second quarter, down 67% from 2019.
  • Delivery revenue in the second quarter was $1.21 billion, up 103% from a year ago.
  • Freight revenue was $211 million, up 27%.
  • Uber has been decisive with its cost cutting as costs and expenses fell from $8.65 billion a year ago to $3.85 billion in the second quarter. One item to watch is R&D, which fell from $3 billion in the second quarter a year ago to $584 million.
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Uber Eats logistics flywheel. 

The upshot? People aren't taking Uber for transport, but delivery from Uber Eats has surged. Uber Freight started bouncing back as markets reopened.

By global market, Uber saw a 44% revenue decline in Latin America with EMEA down 21% and US and Canada down 36%. APAC revenue was up 30% as economies reopened and governments managed to keep infections down.

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Moves to work with public transit agencies with Uber software-as-a-service ride hailing and book drivers by the hour are also likely to pay off over time. Uber Freight has added in-app building.