Charles Gutjahr

Melbourne, Australia


12 May 2019 — a 1 minute read on opinion

Uber listed on the stock market on Friday and was valued at US$80bn. How is that possible when Uber lost US$3bn last year? Uber loses money because it subsidises every fare... we pay perhaps less than half the actual cost of Uber rides!

I think either Uber is screwed, or we the customer are screwed.

Uber can only be worth that much if it somehow starts making money. It can't wring much more money from its underpaid drivers, because Uber drivers are already struggling to survive. It could raise prices to be profitable, but there's a strong argument that Uber is more expensive to run than taxis... so if it does raise prices, surely taxis will be cheaper and take back the business Uber took from them?

My worry is that Uber becomes a monopoly. That seems like the only way they could be worth US$80bn: they wipe out taxi services, then hike up their prices to a sustainable level. If that happens then we are screwed: we end up with a more expensive taxi service without the regulation or trustworthiness.

I reckon it is up to all of us to prevent that monopoly. Next time you should pick anything but Uber. There are plenty of alternatives — try Ola or Bolt or Shebah or ihail or DiDi or ingogo or GoCatch or Lyft instead. If you haven't tried the alternatives, you should!

© 2023 Charles Gutjahr