Uber, the ride-hailing company, has achieved remarkable success under Dara Khosrowshahi’s leadership, including its first annual operating profit in nearly 15 years. The company’s operating profit for 2023 was $1.1 billion, up from a $1.8 billion loss the previous year and $1.9 billion from a $9.1 billion loss in 2022, which was inflated by revaluations of Uber’s equity investments.
Khosrowshahi had to rebuild the company’s public image as one prone to chaos and excess during the Kalanick era. He also had to deal with an existential threat during the pandemic, as lockdown measures nearly wiped out bookings. However, his success appears to stem from his experience as an operator, having led Expedia for 12 years before moving to Uber.
Being an operator has required making difficult decisions, such as reducing Uber’s exposure to more speculative bets, such as its presence in China. He sold his stake in Didi Chuxing in 2021, five years after Uber sold its operations there to the Chinese taxi company.
Dara has also tried to be more cost-conscious, laying off 200 people from its recruitment team last year and implementing an “even more rigorous” approach to performance reviews. Uber also reduced its workforce by approximately 17% during the pandemic.
Uber’s confidence is so high that the company may be preparing to announce capital allocation plans at its investor day next week. Khosrowshahi has hinted at what that could entail, having announced share buyback plans since September. The Kalanick years may seem like a distant memory.