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It took Uber 14 years to make a profit: Part I

By: Sabrina Clarke

· Sustainability


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A company must be profitable to be socially and economically sustainable. How long profitability takes depends on several factors; typically, a lack of access to capital is a fundamental barrier, but not for Uber. Since 2009, Uber has burned through billions and in 2023, it is making a profit based on the initial proposition, a ride-hailing app.

Uber has seen some profit through acquisitions like Lime Scooters and Post Mates, launching Uber Eats and UberX Share. However, the idea that attracted investors, disrupted industries and burned through billions took 14 years to make a profit.

Sit with that a second.

What does this have to do with social sustainability? A lot


The Good

- Uber disrupted 'taxi' driving worldwide; passengers no longer had to be ignored because of their race, gender and other factors. Classic examples are New York City, where some Black men could not get a taxi, or Black Cabs in London.
- Anyone can be an Uber driver, removing the examination or medallion ownership barriers in some locations.
- Uber is built on flexibility for the driver and the passenger.

The Controversy

- Uber also obliterated the 'taxing' driving market and, therefore, removed jobs.
- Uber drivers were a contingent workforce, and their rights or lack thereof posed several contractual and fundamental workers' issues.
- Uber is mired in sexual harassment and discrimination allegations.

Uber is both socially innovative and detrimental.

Do you think expecting companies like Uber to be socially sustainable is unrealistic?

Part II tomorrow...