Uber is not a public company. You can’t buy their stock. You can only invest in Uber if you’re a venture capitalist with ungodly sums of money. Otherwise, the only way to give Uber money is by using their service.
Yet Uber desperately wants to be a publicly traded entity. The company is worth a high eleven figures, which is based on the investments received from private investors. By selling stock in the company on an exchange, the ride-sharing startup could become worth hundreds of billions in a single day.
Unfortunately, there are several things keeping the company from filing an IPO. First, Uber loses a lot of money. We’re talking billions of dollars a year, despite making billions in rides and other sources of revenue. This isn’t odd for a startup or tech company, as Twitter ($TWTR) and Snap Inc. ($SNAP) are both public and have yet to turn a significant profit. Uber, on the other hand, shows no real promise of becoming profitable any time soon.
Then there’s the problem with the company’s culture. The company, led by CEO Travis Kalanick, plays fast and loose with laws, regulations, and anything standing in their way of making money. The company launches in places where they’re banned, disregards widespread reports of sexual assault by contracted drivers, and even puts shoddy self-driving cars on the road around other drivers. On the internal side of things, Uber repeatedly displays a pattern of ignoring sexual harassment claims by salaried employees, and Kalanick is known to act like quite the jerk.
Exit Travis Kalanick
After shrugging off negative press for months, Uber seems to finally be serious about their tarnished image. Today, Travis Kalanick announced he will take a temporary leave of absence. Kalanick will use the time to allegedly build a “world-class” executive team for the company, as many high-ranking employees fled the company in the last few months.
After Kalanick announced his leave, the company released a lengthy listed of recomended changes to their internal structure. This includes giving Kalanick less responsibilities, while bestowing more responsibilities on a yet-to-be-hired COO. It also calls to create an independent committee for the sole purpose of making sure Uber becomes a reputable, less crummy company.
Despite Kalanick’s absence and a legal document suggesting how to fix their company, Uber still has a long way to go. Sure, the company fired the manager responsible for harassing Susan Fowler and twenty others accused of harassment/misconduct. Yet just today, an Uber member made a sexist joke during the company’s all-hands meeting on sweeping company changes. The company might appear to seem apologetic on the surface, though their actions say otherwise.
What does this mean for Uber’s future IPO?
Uber has yet to announce anything pertaining to an initial public offering (IPO), though the company will inevitably go public. Yet the bad press, consistent loss of executives, and toxic culture is driving customers and private investors to their competitors. If the company were already public, investors would undoubtedly lose faith in their ability to operate. This would cause a subsequent decrease in value. If the company seriously wants to play with the big tech companies, it has to act like one — or risk losing more customers, workers, and money.