Uber Is on Growth Fast Track, Leaked Document Shows

(Los Angeles Times/TNS) -

Ridesharing company Uber is on a roll, growing at an extraordinary rate even in the face of virulent opposition.

National governments, local regulators, taxi companies and direct competitors are out to stop Uber or at least slow it down. Some of its own drivers have filed a class-action lawsuit against the company.

But according to details from a leaked document published Friday by Reuters, Uber is a global force. Total ride-share bookings are showing explosive growth, from $688 million in 2013 to a projected $10.84 billion this year and $26.12 billion next. That’s nearly 38 times bigger in just four years.

These are the most detailed numbers on Uber bookings to find wide public distribution.

They come from a presentation apparently used by Uber in its latest round of funding, according to Reuters. Thus far, the company has raised $7 billion from private investors for an imputed market valuation of more than $50 billion.

Uber takes about 20 percent of driver bookings and counts that as revenue. Arithmetic would roughly put its 2015 revenue at $2 billion.

Another gem found in the presentation: Uber contemplates a public stock offering in 18 to 24 months. That news kicked off another flurry of speculation about whether the company is generating earnings.

When reached for comment, an Uber spokesperson said the company does not comment on rumor and speculation.

“I think what’s really interesting is whether they’re profitable yet,” said Hugh Tallents, a partner at management consulting company Cg42.

The answer: It’s almost certainly not. Uber’s heavy upfront investments are all part of the “punch” approach that Thilo Koslowski, vice president and automotive practice leader at research firm Gartner, says Uber has employed from its very beginning in 2010. It punches itself into markets and spends heavily on advance teams, lawyers and lobbyists to fight opposition and gain a foothold in markets around the world.

Previous document leaks — sketchier than the latest — have shown Uber losing money, like many young companies do as they aggressively grow.

And Uber is more aggressive than most. The ridesharing service currently operates in more than 60 countries. In the U.S., you can hail an Uber vehicle in more than 150 cities. The company recently said it plans to spend $1 billion in China and another $1 billion in India to grow its business. Chief Executive Travis Kalanack said he expects the China market to exceed the market in the United States.