With Uber’s I.P.O., Dara Khosrowshahi Is Taking Travis Kalanick’s Company Public

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On Uber’s roadshow to pitch itself to institutional investors (there’s no “homeshow” this time around), Mr. Khosrowshahi has broken with Mr. Kalanick’s worldview that Uber is competing in a winner-take-all market. Ride-sharing will be a “winner-take-most” game, as Mr. Khosrowshahi puts it, according to people familiar with his presentation.

He has also embraced the idea that his company is like Amazon — a logistics giant in the making. His pitch casts Uber’s sustained losses as both an attempt to defend its existing market share from competitors while simultaneously investing in Uber’s future growth.

That story seeks to frame Uber as a technology “platform.” Ride-hailing, the thinking goes, is a mere jumping-off point for other markets, like bikes and scooters, food delivery, long-haul trucking — even flying cars. “Just like Amazon sells third-party goods, we are going to also offer third-party transportation services,” Mr. Khosrowshahi said in an interview last year.

Still, Uber has no clear path to turning a profit in the next few years, and the risks section of its registration statement runs to 48 pages, out of 285 total. Shares of Lyft, its nearest competitor, have fallen some 26 percent since their March debut.

Uber’s bankers seem to have internalized the doubts. After initially targeting an I.P.O. opening range of roughly $48 to $55 per share, Uber reduced expectations to roughly $44 to $50 per share at a valuation of $80 billion to $91 billion — significantly lower than the $90 billion to $100 billion range it originally sought.

Despite all Mr. Khosrowshahi has done to distance Uber from its founder, Mr. Kalanick remains intimately connected to the company he built. He remains on Uber’s board, and Mr. Khosrowshahi has shown no signs of agitating for a shake-up of the group in the months following an I.P.O., as some had expected he would.

Friends of Mr. Kalanick say that he feels unfairly targeted by Uber’s I.P.O. paperwork, and its implicit criticisms of his leadership. And every time Mr. Khosrowshahi uses the word “culture,” Mr. Kalanick considers it a thinly veiled synonym for his reign, according to people familiar with his thinking. They add that Mr. Kalanick hopes that his successor will use the I.P.O. to bury the hatchet between the two men, and mark a new chapter in Uber’s history. Even former enemies on the board, like Matt Cohler of Benchmark, have spoken in favor of Mr. Kalanick’s involvement, according to a report from Axios.



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