Online mobility platform Uber India witnessed a 54.46% increase in its revenue which crossed Rs 2,600 Cr during the fiscal year ending March 2023 but the firm’s losses rose 57% during the same period.
Before we analyze Uber India’s earning streams, let’s look at the entity’s structure in the country which changed significantly in FY23. Uber India Systems Private Limited (UISPL) amalgamated with UIRDPL (Uber India Research and Development) and XLI (Xchange Leasing India) in FY23.
The consolidation appears to have catalyzed the firm’s revenue which stood at Rs 2,666 crore in FY23. Moving to revenue recognition, collection from Uber rides (ride-hailing) accounted for 25% of the total operating revenue which increased by 75% to Rs 679 crore in FY23.
The rest of the income came from business support services offered to the parent company Uber B.V. established in San Francisco. This income grew by 52.5% to Rs 1,977 crore during FY23.
“…The three entities have been merged to streamline internal structures for it to result in better efficiency and synergy,” Uber India said in an email statement. However, the company didn’t answer particularly on the nature of services offered by the Indian entity to Uber B.V.
The company also has another income (non-operating) of Rs 78 crore from brand license and non-compete fees in the fiscal year under review.
On the cost side, its employee benefits expenditure spiked 56.4% to Rs 2,079 crore in FY23 from Rs 1,329 crore in FY22 which includes a significant Rs 668 crore as ESOP cost. The cost of consumables also increased by 27% during the previous fiscal year.
Its contractual manpower, legal professional, marketing, repair, maintenance, and other overheads took its overall expenditure to Rs 3,146 crore in FY23 as compared to Rs 2,146 crore in FY22.
- Employee benefit expense
- Cost of material consumed
- Contractual manpower charges
- Legal & professional expenses
- Advertising and marketing
- Repair and maintenance
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With the 46.6% increase in its overall expenditure, the losses of Uber India Systems widened 57.87% to Rs 311 crore in FY23 from Rs 197 crore in FY22. Its ROCE and EBITDA margin stood at -17% and -10% respectively.
Expense/₹ of Op Revenue
On a unit level, it spent Rs 1.18 to earn a rupee in FY23.
Even as the parent firm moved into profits in Q2 of 2023, Uber India seems nowhere close to the same. Over a decade since it launched with much fanfare in the country, the firm has been through at least two business cycles of rising revenues, losses and some consolidation, followed by a repeat. That losses have dogged it right through points to intrinsic issues with the business model, especially considering the unhappiness of its driver ‘partners’ with the firms take on each ride.
One would have to say that from the heady days when now ousted founder Travis Kalanick was treated like a rockstar in India, the firm has underperformed significantly, with no breakthrough change seen in the past few years, other than the decision to capture more of the revenue running through the network by leasing vehicles and now merging the leasing firm into it. One would argue that while it’s no doubt easy to take a service that did not exist a decade back for granted, Uber has failed on practically every promise of reliable and economical rides while creating decent earnings for its partners.
With the pressure to shift to electric vehicles now in key markets like Delhi (with every likelihood of the requirement spreading to other markets over time) , the firm will remain under pressure to maintain overall fleet strength as well as control costs in the near future as well. The only defense for the firm? No one has really cracked the ride hailing market at scale, as key competitor Ola in particular wallows in its own losses and customer apathy, besides even newcomers like BluSmart that have struggled to tamp down on losses as it expands.