On the morning of 11 April, 2019, the world woke up to Uber Technologies Inc’s S-1 filing with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. Last valued at over $120 billion and marinated over ten long years, few world events—amongst them the Olympics, myriad championship bouts, wildly arranged Tarantino movie plots or the election of a puddle to the White House—can compare to the global gasp of billionaires and commoners when the S-1 hit, demanding to be inspected.
A tiny section on Page 26 deserves your immediate attention:
“In India, for example, our Uber Eats offering competes with Swiggy and Zomato, each of which has substantial market-specific knowledge and established relationships with local restaurants, affording them significant product advantages. As a result, such competitors may be able to respond more quickly and effectively than us in such markets to new or changing opportunities, technologies, consumer preferences, regulations, or standards, which may render our products or offerings less attractive. In addition, future competitors may share in the effective benefit of any regulatory or governmental approvals and litigation victories we may achieve, without having to incur the costs we have incurred to obtain such benefits.”
If you are familiar with the phrase ‘put two and two together’, the above is the first two. The second is that according to several sources The Ken spoke with, for more than six months now, Uber has been trying to sell its two-year-old Uber Eats business in India. Ever since that search started, it has found buyers, but not at the right price.
“A company like Uber doesn’t play for number two.”
This is a former ride-hailing entrepreneur speaking. One who has fought the ride-hailing battle and exited. He requested not to be named because he got out of the business a few years back and doesn’t want to dip so much as a pinky back into the pond. “Uber always likes to be number one. Look at Uber Eats and they are number three in India, after Zomato and Swiggy. It dilutes the Uber brand, so it makes absolute sense to get out of that business. That’s how we thought about it, and I think that’s what the company is trying to do.”
This entrepreneur isn’t alone. In fact he is one of many who believe that after fighting for years and eventually ceding ground in countries like China and Russia, Uber is now slowly retreating from India.
They also say that they can’t claim to have seen it coming.
“You know adrenaline?”
Human beings live life through the prism of time.
There’s a time to wake up. Time to go to bed.
Take a nap.