Spending more time and money on autonomous vehicles is worth it for Uber, the company says.
With its massive network of riders, restaurants and shippers of freight-- as soon as driverless vehicles become safe enough to run on public roads the world-over, Uber should have an edge in commercializing and profiting from them.
Advanced tech projects also help Uber to recruit and retain engineering talent in the hyper-competitive market of San Francisco where it is headquartered. Uber employed 22,263 people full-time as of the end of 2018, with 11,488 employees outside the United States.
Investors are banking on a tech-driven shot in the arm for Uber, too. The company cautions in its S-1 filing that it may never become profitable. It generated $11.4 billion in revenue last year, but still wound up $1.8 billion in the red.
But the international and "horizontal" story played well with venture capitalists and equity investors. Ahead of their IPO Lyft had raised $4.9 billion, and Uber has raised more than $24 billion. At the time of its IPO Lyft was valued over $20 billion. Uber is reaching for a lofty valuation around $120 billion.
It remains to be seen whether Wall Street investors will have as much faith in Uber's potential, and focus on growth for now over profitability who knows when.
Those who believe in Uber's long-term growth will most likely compare it to Amazon, a company that appeared to be an online bookseller but steadily grew into the store that sells everything and cloud computing giant, focusing on growth over profits for many years to do so.
Correction: This story has been updated to remove the specific amount Uber wanted to raise in its IPO. The company has not yet revealed the precise number.