Concerns that Uber's expansion of its in-app travel booking services would cannibalize its core offering appear to be easing, with the company reporting a boosted overall performance.
Uber has posted its first-ever operating profit, and the company continues to test its expansion into travel booking in the UK.
The quarter was the first since Uber’s 2009 founding that it reported its underlying operations were profitable. Uber reported close to $30 billion in operating losses from 2016 through to the first quarter of this year, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.
“For most of our history, profitable wasn’t the first thing that came up when you asked someone about Uber,” Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi said during an earnings call on Tuesday.
“In fact, many observers over the years boldly claimed that we would never make any money. But we knew they were wrong.”
While the company continues to focus on its verticals across mobility and delivery, which saw its ride numbers in the U.S. and Canada surpass pre-pandemic levels for the first time, Khosrowshahi said Uber would further explore the tour operator market via its UK app.
The company wants to expand its tour operator offering to its “significant international and UK travelers” already using the app for airport transfers, for example, Khosrowshahi said during the earnings call.
“We are building up services that we think rival traditional tour operators with what I will call the Uber delight. We already know who you are. We know your identity. We know your payments,” said Khosrowshahi.
Personalization of product searches has addressed concerns that an expanded travel product would cannibalize and distract users from Uber’s core business, added Khosrowshahi, “What we’re seeing more recently is that with the power of machine learning, we can offer the right product to the consumer at the right time.”
Uber expanded its UK rideshare service with a Hopper partnership to allow users in-app booking of domestic and international flights in May this year. This adds to several other travel services, including a partnership with Viator to offer tours and activities.
The company also announced the departure of its chief financial officer Nelson Chai who will step down in January 2024.
Uber posted a profit of $394 million during the second quarter, compared with a loss of $2.6 billion a year earlier, with the company projecting continued growth for the third quarter ending September 30.
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi at Skift Global Forum 2021
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Photo credit: Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshashi (right) in discussion with Skift Executive Editor Dennis Schaal at Skift Global Forum, Sept. 22, 2021. Matt Mateiescu / Skift