Uber11

TROUBLED UBER LOSSES NARROW BUT THIRD SENIOR EXEC IN A WEEK QUITS

Uber’s head of finance, Gautam Gupta, is leaving the company, the third senior executive the ride hailing firm has lost this week.

Uber said losses narrowed in the first three months of 2017 to $708m (£549m) from $991m in the previous quarter. The company does not report financial results publicly, but said it was “on a good trajectory towards profitability”.

In recent months Uber has been shaken by scandals, high-profile sackings and allegations of sexism.

Mr Gupta, who has been head of strategic finance since 2015, will leave next month to join another start-up in San Francisco.

Uber chief executive and co-founder Travis Kalanick said: “Gautam is a world-class financial talent. Over the last four years, he has been indispensible in helping build Uber from an idea into the business it is today.”

Uber is now looking for a chief financial officer who it is thought will help steer the company towards a flotation on the stock market in the next two years.

Growing fast

Uber is still growing fast, although it has never made a full-year profit.

In the first three months of the year, revenue rose 18% from the previous quarter to $3.4bn. In 2016, the company carried 700 million passengers in more than 70 countries, booked $20bn in rides and generated $6.8bn in net revenues.

However, it has also raised what is estimated to be more venture capital than any start-up in history, some $11bn, and it needs to prove to its private investors that it can turn a profit.

Meanwhile, the company has been haemorrhaging senior executives since the beginning of the year.

New York general manager, Josh Mohrer, and the head of Uber’s self-driving unit, Anthony Levandowski, both left this week.

Mohrer is credited with building Uber in New York city from its early beginnings. He is leaving for a job at Tusk Ventures, which advises start-up businesses on regulatory issues.

Allegations

Mr Levandowski, who was considered critical in the development of Uber’s self-drive projects, was fired for declining to testify in the lawsuit that Google owner Alphabet has brought against Uber.

The case involves the alleged theft of self-drive technology from an Alphabet subsidiary.

Other high-profile departures include vice-president of product Ed Baker; Uber president Jeff Jones; vice-president of engineering Amit Singhal; policy and communications chief Rachel Whetstone – a Briton; and the head of mapping, Brian McClendon.

Uber has also hired former US attorney-general Eric Holder and Tammy Albarran, both partners at the law firm Covington & Burling, to conduct a review of sexual harassment claims made by a former employee.

In March, Mr Kalanick was forced to apologise after a video emerged of him swearing at one of the company’s drivers.

And at the end of last month, Mr Kalanick was struck by personal tragedy when his mother died in a boating accident near Fresno, California. His father, who was also on the boat, was seriously injured.