The final numbers aren’t yet in, but as of mid-December, Uber was on pace to lose an unprecedented $3 billion in 2016. Even for a company that’s raised $13 billion and is valued at $68 billion, that’s a lot of money. Uber burned at least $1.3 billion—and probably a good bit more—in the first half of last year, plus another $800 million in the third quarter. Those losses came despite the company’s sale of its China business in August, the end of a fight that was costing Uber $1 billion a year.
This year, Uber needs to get those losses under control. Even if it doesn’t pursue a rumored IPO in 2017, the company would do well to reassure investors that it can make money as fast as it spends it. And already, Uber has made one big change: For the first time in three years, it isn’t planning widespread January price cuts.
Uber has made a habit of slashing fares to greet the new year, a practice it says spurs demand during the slower winter months. In a January 2015 blog post titled ”Beating the Winter Slump—Price Cuts for Riders with Guaranteed Earnings for Drivers,” Uber announced lower rates in 48 cities. The following year, in a blog post of virtually the same name (the em-dash became a colon), the company promised price cuts in more than 100 North American cities, “to fight the January blues.”
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