The answer to Uber’s profit challenge? It may lie in its trove of data

…But digging out of a $3 billion hole will not be solved simply by finding more Uber passengers, say analysts, investors, fund managers and former Uber employees.

“There is no evidence the core ride-hailing business is profitable,” said Steve Blank, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, startup adviser and Stanford University professor. The question becomes, “Where is the next billion dollars coming from?”

Analysts and Uber insiders point to a possible answer: its treasure trove of trip data.

…Uber has a fraught history with data collection. It has used geolocation data to spy on customers and journalists, deceive regulators and recruit drivers away from competitors. The company paid $148 million in a U.S. settlement last year over the cover-up of a 2016 data breach, and the terms included a revamp of Uber’s data security practices.

That could make the company more efficient and sell more rides, driving up margins.

…Or, Uber could do deals with partner companies such as consumer finance firms to roll out new products and services that are targeted to specific customers based on the data Uber has collected. Last month, Uber announced a collaboration with payments company PayPal Holdings to expand Uber’s digital wallet offerings.

…Uber has other ideas for how it can get to profitability, pointing investors to its mobility services including scooters, food-delivery and freight-hauling. But the food-delivery service loses money and the freight-hauling business is heavily subsidized.


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