CEO wants more workers to return to the office—preferably in an Uber


Uber’s mixed first quarter marked a return to a loss for the ride-hailing company after it turned a profit for the first time last year. Its CEO said a lack of commuters is partly to blame. 

Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s chief executive, said on the company’s first quarter earnings call Wednesday that workers’ habits have changed after the pandemic, and the company has taken a hit because of it. 

“[W]ith the pandemic, I think a lot of people who were kind of commuting to work, etc., stopped commuting,” Khosrowshahi said. “We have lost some of our most frequent customers.”

Uber did not immediately respond to Fortune’s request for comment. The company’s shares were down 5.7% at $66.40 as of market close Wednesday.

His remarks come as Uber missed analyst expectations for its gross bookings, and it was mostly weighed down by legal settlements and paper losses on its investments. Gross bookings, defined as ride hails, delivery orders, and driver and merchant earnings, rose about 21% year-over-year to $37.7 billion, but fell short of the about $38 billion many analysts expected. Meanwhile, the company’s revenue was up 15% compared to a year prior at $10.1 billion.

The changes in how often people commute to the office thanks to the rise in remote work means that some customers for which Uber was “kind of a daily habit,” are not using the app as frequently as they used to, Khosrowshahi said.

Still, Khosrowshahi said Uber has seen an increase in people using its app during commuting hours.

“One interesting trend that we’re seeing is that people are getting back to work,” he said in an interview with CNBC. “Our workplace hours are stronger than leisure hours.”

Although some CEOs have thrown in the towel when it comes to strict return-to-office mandates, in major metros such as New York City foot traffic data from March showed that office occupancy is at 80% of its average pre-pandemic levels, Fortune reported. In Miami, that number was 85%.

Although it might be an unpopular opinion, Khosrowshahi said, Uber is particularly looking forward to a return to pre-pandemic work life.

“Some folks may not like that, but we love it here at Uber, people getting back to work and getting back to the office,” he said.

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