Uber to keep its faith on India, says CEO

K.R.Srivats New Delhi | Updated on February 22, 2018 Published on February 22, 2018

Insists SoftBank deal will not shift focus away from India, South-East Asia, despite losses

On his maiden visit to India, Uber’s new Chief Executive Officer, Dara Khosrowshahi, affirmed that the global ride-hailing major sees the country as an “incredibly important and core market” and continues to be on an “investment mode,” despite operational losses in the market.

His remarks are significant as it shows that Uber is unlikely to change its investment strategy to shift focus away from India post the SoftBank’s 15 per cent stake buy in the cab aggregator last month.


When asked if SoftBank wants Uber to focus only on profitable markets, Khosrowshahi told a media roundtable in the capital that the company’s strategy is decided by its board.

“While SoftBank may have an opinion, their’s is not the only opinion in the room. And it is my belief that we as a company need to have a balanced profile in terms of growth and investment,” he said.

He felt that it is in Uber’s interests to stay committed to markets such as India and Latin America, which are large and presented long-term opportunity for growth. Khosrowshahi also said Uber will “aggressively invest” in South-East Asia in terms of marketing and subsidies, despite the company losing money in the market.

Miles to go

He said Uber is investing in India because “we believe in it. We believe in the long-term viability of the Indian market.”

Khosrowshahi, an Iranian American, became the CEO of Uber, the world’s most valuable start-up, in August 2017, succeeding founder Travis Kalanick.

Khoshrowshahi said there is much room to grow with Uber still accounting for less than 1 per cent of the miles driven in the world.

“We are now an alternative to taxis. What we want is to become an alternative to car ownership,” he said.

Currently, India accounts for over 10 per cent of Uber’s global trips and this will only go “higher and higher” as more investments are made in the market, he said. Indian operations are not profitable as yet, he added. While refraining from disclosing the level of investments made so far in India, Khoshrowshahi said “it’s a lot.”

Scaling up

He also said that Uber sees its driver-partner universe, which is at about 3 lakh strong now in India, growing 5-10x in the next three years. “We are on a good road there.”

Asked to spell out the business plan for expansion to more cities (Uber currently has a presence in 29 Indian cities), Khoshrowshahi said that from a population standpoint, the coverage as of now is good.

“We are not scaling up immediately. If your question is ‘Will we be in more cities in India three years from now’, the answer is yes. Our coverage in terms of cities in India is not too broad now, but we are at the right pace.”

One of the real mistakes companies make early on is trying to expand before they perfect the product, he added.

Published on February 22, 2018

A letter from the Editor

Dear Readers,

The coronavirus crisis has changed the world completely in the last few months. All of us have been locked into our homes, economic activity has come to a near standstill. Everyone has been impacted.

Including your favourite business and financial newspaper. Our printing and distribution chains have been severely disrupted across the country, leaving readers without access to newspapers. Newspaper delivery agents have also been unable to service their customers because of multiple restrictions.

In these difficult times, we, at BusinessLine have been working continuously every day so that you are informed about all the developments – whether on the pandemic, on policy responses, or the impact on the world of business and finance. Our team has been working round the clock to keep track of developments so that you – the reader – gets accurate information and actionable insights so that you can protect your jobs, businesses, finances and investments.

We are trying our best to ensure the newspaper reaches your hands every day. We have also ensured that even if your paper is not delivered, you can access BusinessLine in the e-paper format – just as it appears in print. Our website and apps too, are updated every minute, so that you can access the information you want anywhere, anytime.

But all this comes at a heavy cost. As you are aware, the lockdowns have wiped out almost all our entire revenue stream. Sustaining our quality journalism has become extremely challenging. That we have managed so far is thanks to your support. I thank all our subscribers – print and digital – for your support.

I appeal to all or readers to help us navigate these challenging times and help sustain one of the truly independent and credible voices in the world of Indian journalism. Doing so is easy. You can help us enormously simply by subscribing to our digital or e-paper editions. We offer several affordable subscription plans for our website, which includes Portfolio, our investment advisory section that offers rich investment advice from our highly qualified, in-house Research Bureau, the only such team in the Indian newspaper industry.

A little help from you can make a huge difference to the cause of quality journalism!


Support Quality Journalism
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor
You have read 1 out of 3 free articles for this week. For full access, please subscribe and get unlimited access to all sections.