Uber will invest 'aggressively' in SE Asia after SoftBank deal

Yolanda Curtis
February 23, 2018

"We expect to lose money in Southeast Asia and expect to invest aggressively in terms of marketing, subsidies, etc.", Khosrowshahi told reporters in India, Uber's fastest-growing market outside the United States, where he is now on his first official tour.

Khosrowshahi said that SoftBank's investment focus was far from pitting the rivals against each other, but rather in seeing how Uber can transform the mobility space.

Uber India
Adnan Abidi Reuters

Uber is still expecting to lose money in the region initially.

SoftBank is an investor but Uber will take any final decisions along with the board on mergers and partnerships, he said. "So while SoftBank may have an opinion, theirs is not the only opinion in the room". "We as a company need to have a balanced profile in terms of growth and investment". India is Uber's largest market outside the U.S. and the company now operates in 29 cities with 3 lakh drivers. Uber has said it could start testing what are basically flying cars by 2020 in Los Angeles, Dallas-Fort Worth and Dubai. The competition, he said, would make both Uber and Ola better, offering better products for drivers and consumers.

"I want Uber to be a part of where India is going over the next 10 years. That will require investment", he said.

SoftBank Vision Fund, which recently became Uber's largest shareholder with the formal closing of a $9.3 billion investment giving it 15% stake, has reportedly stated that Uber should focus on recovering its market share in the United States and growing in key European markets, to have a faster path to profitability. "San Fanscisco is the headquarters but India is going to be a very big tech centre, and who knows maybe 10 years from now India will be our first tech centre, we will see", he said. For instance, Uber Pool, the ride-sharing platform where two more passengers share a auto to travel to same or different destinations, is a losing proposition but the company believes in the product as it will help solve traffic as well as road congestion problems, he said. "We consider that Indian market is part of our core". "How we perform as a company ten years from now is very much going to be determined by our success in India".

Uber has also faced bans, restrictions and protests around the world as it disrupts conventional taxi services. "There are developed markets.we are going to continue to invest and they are going to be more profitable.and we should actively be investing in markets like India and Latin America that have huge growth ahead of us", he said as he was asked repeatedly about how the company was going to pare losses. The next step for us to get our business to where we want it to be in India is to help move the regulations forward, so that we go from taxi-hailing to true vehicle sharing. "We will look at anything", Khosrowshahi said, "but right now, the plan [for Southeast Asia and India] is to go forward, lean forward, and continue to invest".

"The greatest value that we can create [in India] is to continue to invest and grow our business here, not just for India but the role it is going to play in shaping our product for the rest of the world", Khosrowshahi told reporters in New Delhi on Thurday, before attending the Global Business Summit.

The Uber CEO further said that business scale-up combined with advent of new technologies will make services such as Uber rival and become a "true alternative" to vehicle ownership.

Other reports by iNewsToday