Uber's deal with Grab will help the US-based cab aggregator increase investments in its core markets like India towards ramping up products as well as growing new businesses like Uber Eats, chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said.
Uber’s deal with Grab will help the US-based cab aggregator increase investments in its core markets like India towards ramping up products as well as growing new businesses like Uber Eats, chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said. In an interview to PTI, Khosrowshahi said India is already among the top three markets (besides the US and Latin America), accounting for 10 per cent of its trips globally. “The great news about our Grab deal is that it allows us to double down to invest aggressively in our core markets – and we consider India very much as core to Uber’s success… we will be more focused on organic growth in the markets that we are operating in,” he said. The top executive, who took over the reins of Uber in August last year, said the company will invest “whatever we have to in order to succeed in India”. “We have no cap. We will increasingly build out our product to be leading not only globally, but also focus on specific functionality purpose – built for our Indian customers,” he emphasised. Uber has been pumping in substantial funds to fuel its growth in India. In 2015, Uber announced an investment of USD 1 billion in the country to expand its services. It has also set up a response and support centre in Hyderabad with an investment of USD 50 million.
Profitability in the Indian market, however, is still some time away for Uber, one of the world’s most valued startups. “I think it would be a mistake to show profits in India next year. It would mean that we aren’t investing enough… We are confident about our competitive position in India—our driver sentiment, rider sentiment, the quality of our service are all leading and we intend to build on that lead,” he said. He added that India is one of Uber’s healthiest markets in terms of growth rates of number of active drivers and weekly trips. “We think we can increase that by 5x or 10x over the next 10 years. That will require investment, but as you mature, you also want to combine that investment with eventual profitability… we just do not have a specific timeline in mind,” he said.
Asked about a possible merger with homegrown rival Ola, he said the company will “look at any deals that can add value to its partners and shareholders, but we believe in controlling our own destiny in India”. There have been speculations about Uber and Ola joining forces in the Indian market. These got stronger after SoftBank – an investor in Ola – joined Uber as an investor committing over USD 1 billion. Apart from India, the two now also compete in the Australian market with Ola recently launching its services in Perth and Sydney.
Talking about reports suggesting that Uber is exiting developing markets to cut back on the high cash burns, Khosrowshahi said if a company focused on only developed markets, it would “hit a growth wall” at some point in time. He added:”You have to take profits from developed markets and put them into growth markets such as India, the Middle East and even Africa and that is exactly what we intend to do. And believe me, Masa (SoftBank CEO) likes growth!”