Uber’s new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi announced Wednesday that the ridesharing company that has been clouded in controversy for the last few years is finally ready to go public, and intends to do so in the second half of 2019.
Khosrowshahi first mentioned the target timeframe for Uber’s planned initial public offering (IPO) while speaking to CNBC and reiterated it while on stage at Recode’s Code Conference late Wednesday evening, during which he said Uber wants to be the “Amazon for transportation.”
In an interview with CNBC, Uber’s CEO said the company is “on track” for its IPO in 2019, though the publication reported Uber has yet to start discussions with banks to facilitate the move. “We’re in a good position in terms of the company’s profile, in terms of profitability and margins continue to get better,” he said.
Uber’s Amazon-like ambitions are likely driven by the company’s success in categories adjacent to just ridesharing. Per Khosrowshahi, the company’s food delivery service UberEats has achieved a $6 billion run rate (a projection that annualizes data from a short period of time) and is growing by over 200 percent. The CEO also envisioned a future in which Uber is the platform that other transportation services like public transit, bikes, and buses run on.
“Whether it’s taking a car, whether it’s taking a pooled car, whether it’s taking a bike, whether you should walk or even now we want to build out the capability for you to take a bus or subway,” Khosrowshahi told CNBC. “We want to be the A-to-B platform for transportation.”
Khosrowshahi spent most of the day’s brief publicity tour continuing to present the softer side of Uber in attempt to make up for the misdeeds of the company’s former CEO, current board member, and forever asshole Travis Kalanick. While speaking at Code Conference, Khosrowshahi insisted Uber is “a different kind of company” that has “turned over a new leaf” under his leadership. He said some people in the company were “focused on control, rather than success” when he arrived and addressing that required changing the culture of the company. “If we start doing the right thing...eventually the world will notice,” he said.
While Khosrowshahi certainly seems to be a much more pleasant presence than his predecessor, Uber is still anything but a warm and fuzzy, feel-good story. Earlier this week, it was reported the company was still fighting to keep a number of women who were allegedly sexually assaulted by Uber drivers from bringing a class action lawsuit to court—and new accusations against drivers continue to crop up on the regular. Khosrowshahi also reportedly knew about a massive data breach that affected 57 million Uber riders and drivers months before it was made public.
Khosrowshahi also toed the long-standing company line about Uber drivers not being employees. While he said Uber was exploring benefits for its “driver-partners,” he said the gig economy was still the future of work and one of the biggest benefits for drivers is “they get to be their own bosses.” San Francisco’s city attorney subpoenaed Uber and Lyft earlier this week for information on driver classification, wages, and benefits in an attempt to see if drivers really are independent contractors or full employees, so we may soon see just how far the “be your own boss” line can take Uber.
Uber and its CEO are aware that whether its drivers are employees may not matter in the not-too-distant future with the introduction of self-driving cars. Following a fatal crash earlier this year, Uber pulled its autonomous cars off the road but Khosrowshahi said the company intends to pick back up with its tests later this summer.
Uber’s plan, per its CEO, is to eventually license its self-driving technology—some of which was alleged to have been stolen in a now-settled lawsuit with Google-owned Waymo. Khosrowshahi said autonomous vehicles are only an existential threat to Uber if the company doesn’t have access to the technology. Its drivers, who may find themselves replaced by driverless vehicles, probably won’t take much comfort in knowing Uber is control of the tech putting them out of work.