Uber to continue investing in India: Dara Khosrowshahi


India is an incredibly important and a core market for UBER, it's CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said on Thursday.

"We expect to lose money in Southeast Asia and expect to invest aggressively in terms of marketing, subsidies etc", Khosrowshahi told reporters in New Delhi, adding there is huge potential in the region thanks to a big population and fast internet user growth. Ever since Japan's Softbank acquired a 15 percent stake in Uber, reports about the company potentially being combined with other ride-hailing services that Softbank owns stakes in have surged. "If we can succeed in India, [it] can shape our products globally, and can be a laboratory for us and for the next 6 billion customers who access our products in the future", he said.

Given that Softbank is now a common investor in both firms, speculation has been ripe that Uber will sell its India unit to Ola for a hefty stake in the Indian company. As of previous year, Uber indicated that it plans to have a demo vehicle ready to show off by 2020, an ambitious timeline to say the least. "So while SoftBank may have an opinion, theirs is not the only opinion in the room".

Khosrowshahi said SoftBank is an investor but Uber, which has a valuation of around $68 billion, will take any final decisions along with the board on mergers and partnerships.

He said operations in India are not profitable but India accounts for more than 10 per cent of Uber's trips globally.

India is one of Uber's fastest-growing worldwide markets and accounts for more than 10 percent of Uber's trips globally, but it's not making money yet, Khosrowshahi said.

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He said Uber will use the profits it makes from mature markets like the United States and Europe to "lean into" developing markets like India.

Asked if Uber would shift course in its autonomous vehicle endeavours if a more viable alternative came up from one of the many technologies and auto companies working in this space, Khosrowshahi told indianexpress.com: "We are investing in autonomous technology towards being a catalyst, to get this technology commercial as quickly as possible".

"One the great things about Travis (Kalanick) is that he was always a lean-forward kind of a founder, and we want to have that lean-forward aggressive investment philosophy continue for the company".

Khosrowshahi took over as CEO of Uber from founder Travis Kalanick in August a year ago.

Uber has faced bans, restrictions and protests around the world as it disrupts conventional taxi services and Khosrowshahi is tackling this head-on by working with regulators, putting an end to the take-no-prisoners culture he inherited.