While the Chinese start the year of the dog, Uber just finished its personal year of the bitch.
Uber’s roller-coaster year of 2017 saw it start out with a sexual harassment case, an IP court case and in the middle, have a change of executive, a revealing hack attack, and a new CEO to lead them to a successful investment. 2018 started with the closure of the IP court case, the start of a $1 billion love affair with SoftBank and a renewed public confidence.
Let’s look at what CEO Dara Khosrowshahi can do to make 2018 the year of the Uber.
1. Finances and Partnerships
Uber needs to streamline their operations; this means cut out the dead weight, lose any business habits that are not working. Reduce their staffing to cut wage costs and change their payment and incentive plans to increase driver productivity, while making their customer pricing attractive. Uber can reduce a lot of expenditure by moving out of Asia as SoftBank suggests. By reducing its overheads and losses in trying to build an Asian presence, they should instead, invest in Ola, buy out a share of that company and then let Ola take over India and Australia. Uber should also invest in GoJeck, and that would complete the Uber presence in all the Asian rideshare competitors.
2. Marketing& PR
Uber needs to increase its spending on clever marketing, not the usual billboard messages, but use selected focused e-marketing solutions as well as develop more branding options around the world. Uber should also continue to develop and market their new corporate culture, creating a cleaner and more refined image. This can be done through many incentives, the main one being improving the driver’s satisfaction. Uber’s face to the public is through its drivers, by investing in their drivers it is investing in its marketing and PR. In fact, if Uber were to transfer half of their investment from marketing to driver incentives and start a driver-PR initiative, where drivers are Uber Ambassadors, then Uber would basically be building up a 700,000-marketing team that would have an exponential PR effect. No marketing or PR program can compete with 700,000 pumped up driver ambassadors.
3. Market Mix
Uber needs to increase its mix of services, by studying its competition, it should adopt new ideas and ramp up old ones. For instance;
- e-payment and e-wallets are all the rage in Asia; Uber should increase its e-payment services to provide a comprehensive platform for its drivers and customers.
- Taxi, Uber should invest in more taxi apps such as copying Gett and taking a large market share of Taxi service. While this might seem to compete with its rideshare, it will, in fact, bolster income, and allow Uber to control a market that will not die out. Regulated driving will remain, it’s only a matter of time till governments demand that all rideshare drivers get licensed.
- Deliveries – Uber should continue to expand its delivery services. UberEats is a success, and as such, copying the success globally is the next step. It already has invested in freight, so all Uber needs to do is create a door to door supply chain operation basing its success on all its services, ranging from UberX, UberEats and delivering to UberFreight.
- AV development is an area that is very “sexy” at the moment. This will give the 2019 IPO that extra appeal. Investors love profitable companies, but they are totally enchanted by visionary companies that sell a dream even if they are showing billion-dollar losses on the way.
4. Global Presence
Uber needs to reduce its problem area’s and increase its presence in its strongholds. These means leave Asia, concentrating on the Middle East and Africa, strengthen its ties with Europe and concentrate on Canada and the US. Uber needs to build up a stronger presence in Egypt and move into the Maghreb (Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria) as well as concentrate on building a central African presence too. The Arabian Peninsula is still a great place to increase its presence, and apart from Careem and Taxify, Uber can build a stronger presence during 2018 by introducing more services to supplement their rideshare market.
5. Legal Issues
I usually like to end with a good thing, it’s sort of a blessing to end with good words. However, Uber is facing a lot of legal issues,andlet’s try to see how these can be turned into a win-win for Uber. At home, Uber faces legal battles that are the by-product of hiding the great hack attack of 2016, with this are IRS issues and city issues that are piling up due to Kalanick’s total disregard for the law. Kalanick’s war cry of shoot first and ask questions later is not working out for Uber, and Khosrowshahi now must tend to these issues. At least he stopped the Waymo issue dead in its tracks at theminimal damage, in fact, Uber succeeded in adding Alphabet as a minor investor. Around the world, Uber has only one real big issue,and that is London. Personally, I don’t think Uber will win there, and their only way around this issue is to invest in a taxi app. Like what is being done in Japan with JapanTaxi. If Uber “joins” the competition, by investing in it and offering a taxi app to accompany their rideshare app, they will win both markets. Uber should learn from Softbank and invest in what seems to be competing markets but in fact provides a “hedged bet,” assuring income from both as well as making sure if one does fail, the other covers the loss with a good profit.
OK, I will finish with a good word. Where would Uber be without its AV dream? AV is the future of transport, that is a fact. Regulated and organized transport routes where humans are not allowed to drive in, will lead to safe and organized traffic, where traffic jams will cease to exist since the flow will be controlled by a computer system and the cars all drive for passenger comfort and not driver ego.
The 2019 IPO is all set up and ready, Khosrowshahi is hoping to meet the IPO date with an efficient company, on the way to profitability and with a comprehensive AV package as well as an organized market with a large market mix of services and products.
Uber is set for a great 2018, if Khosrowshahi can continue to organize and direct Uber through the maze of legal issues and navigate the seas of Asia, it will be set to be a true winner and might become a $100 billion company before the end of 2018.
About The Author: Aman Bhangoo is the co-founder of Ridesharing Forum who helps rideshare drivers and riders to find answers to their most pressing questions. With over 3.5 years of experience, Aman brings a vast amount of knowledge, style, and skills to help fellow drivers. He has given over 18,000 rides with Uber and more than 6,800 rides with Lyft.