Unpacking Uber’s new profitability promise

Hello and welcome back to our regular morning look at private companies, public markets and the gray space in between.

Yesterday Uber reported its Q4 2019 financial performance. Today, following the news, shares of the ride-hailing giant are up over 9%, pushing Uber’s stock above $40 per share. While Uber’s shares are still under its $45-per-share IPO price, the company’s earnings report appears to indicate that there may be an end in sight for Uber’s infamous losses.

After promising to reach adjusted profitability in 2021, Uber made a better pledge yesterday to generate a loose form of profit in Q4 2020, earlier than it or investors previously anticipated.

This morning, we’re going to quickly skim Uber’s results, unpack the profitability promise to understand if what the company promised today is impressive or not and wrap with a note on cash burn and more traditional profit definitions to frame the news.

If Uber has turned the corner on profitability, the halo effect from the good news could prove a boon to other on-demand companies, especially the private cohort who are struggling to combat a narrative that when it comes to making money, they are all forecast and no follow-through.