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Beleaguered lift-sharing app Uber lost €2.5bn last year

Firm is however weathering scandals as number of riders continues to grow

Uber said its gross ride bookings for the second quarter reached $8.7 billion, up from $7.5 billion in the first quarter. Photograph: Neil Hall/Reuters

Uber Technologies has reported a 16 per cent increase in quarterly bookings and a smaller loss than the previous period as the ride-services company showed signs of inching toward profitability.

The shrinking losses reflect Uber’s efforts to rein in massive spending on subsidies for both drivers and customers even as it battles rivals in tough markets such as south Asia.

The San Francisco-based company said it lost $645 million in the second quarter, 9 per cent less than the $708 million loss in the first quarter and 35 per cent less than the $991 million loss in the fourth quarter of last year. For all of 2016 Uber lost about $3 billion.

As a private company, Uber is not required to publicly report its financial results, but earlier this year it began offering a glimpse of its performance by disclosing certain numbers.

The continued growth in the number of rider suggests Uber’s core business has so far weathered a string of scandals. But the scale of its losses are unprecedented in Silicon Valley, and executives have declined to offer a timetable for profitability.

Uber is facing allegations of sexual harassment, a lawsuit alleging trade-secrets theft and a federal criminal probe over its use of software to evade city regulators, among other alleged misconduct.

Some investors have eyed Uber’s $68 billion valuation with scepticism, and four mutual fund investors disclosed this week that they had marked down the value of their Uber shares by as much as 15 per cent.

Russian rides

Uber said its gross ride bookings for the second quarter reached $8.7 billion, up from $7.5 billion in the first quarter. The number of global trips on its service increased 150 per cent over the previous year, with growth strongest in developing markets.

Those numbers include trips in Russia, where Uber last month merged its operations with local rival Yandex.

Adjusted net revenue, which reflects Uber’s cut of ride fares, rose to $1.75 billion from $1.5 billion in the first quarter, Uber said.

Since 2010 Uber has raised more than $15 billion from investors, allowing it to operate at a significant loss. The company said it has $6.6 billion in the bank, down from around $7.2 billion in the first quarter.

Jan Dawson, chief analyst at Jackdaw Research, cautioned that Uber’s reporting is selective and excludes parts of the business’s financial model that may show the company in a less favourable light.

“There’s clearly growth in the numbers reported by Uber here,” Dawson said, but they should be taken “with a big pinch of salt.”

The company is searching for a new chief executive and also lacks a chief financial officer, highly unusual for a company of its size.

The former chief executive and cofounder Travis Kalanick was ousted in June, and it is unclear how the absence of a chief executive will affect the current quarter’s financial results.

– Reuters

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