Uber Is Reading Its Pitch as the Amazon of Transportation

Published Monday, April 15, 2019

Uber Technologies Inc. and its bankers will hit the road this month with one big name on their lips as they try to entice investors with favorable comparisons to businesses that it seeks to imitate or surpass.

That name is Amazon.com Inc.

Amazon was a money-losing internet bookseller attacking the brick-and-mortar fortress of Barnes & Noble Inc. at the dawn of e-commerce when it raised $54m in its 1997 initial public offering. Its ascent to world’s biggest online retailer — the everything store — is seen as a model by Uber as it pivots from its maturing but still unprofitable ride-hailing operation to position itself as a global transportation platform.

Uber wants to convince investors that it’s a transportation and logistics market-maker that can build — and then supply — new demand for everything from scooters and bicycles to freight and food delivery, said people familiar with its plans who asked not to be identified because they’re private.

The investor pitch will dwell on the unrealized opportunity ahead, with Uber casting itself as a nascent transportation provider just barely scratching the surface of a multi-trillion-dollar market, according to the people. While Uber may have a 65 percent share of the ride-hailing market in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, the company said in its IPO filing Thursday that its share of the entire global transportation market is less than 1 percent.

“It’s wise for them to pitch themselves as a platform and make the connection to Amazon,” said Kathleen Smith, principal of the research firm Renaissance Capital. “If you can’t talk about earnings, you better have a plan to talk about a platform, because that’s the only way investors will feel comfortable with losses.”

Uber’s long-awaited roadshow for what is expected to be 2019’s biggest U.S. IPO is expected to kick off on April 26, the people said. The San Francisco-based company is seeking to raise about $10bn and to be valued at about $100bn, people familiar with the matter have said.

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