Uber CEO: Massive losses from IPO were a once-in-a-lifetime hit

Key Points
  • Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi called the company's $5.2 billion loss a "once-in-a-lifetime" hit.
  • The company reported the staggering loss in its second-quarter earnings results on Thursday, attributing it to stock-based compensation.
  • Uber also fell short of analysts' expectations for both the top and bottom lines.
Watch Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi's full interview following Q2 earnings miss
Watch Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi's full interview following Q2 earnings miss

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi called the company's staggering $5.2 billion loss in the second quarter a "once-in-a-lifetime" hit as he tries to steer it toward profitability.

In an interview with CNBC's David Faber and Jim Cramer on Friday, Khosrowshahi shed light on the company's second-quarter earnings report, in which Uber fell short of analysts' expectations for both the top and bottom lines. The stock plunged 6.8%.

Khosrowshahi said he's targeting 30% revenue growth in the back half of the year, compared with net revenue growth of 26% in the second quarter. He added that spending will increase, but it will decline as a percentage of revenue.

"I think we've got very good visibility into our own business as far as the business model and how we can tweak it and how we can drive more efficiency," Khosrowshahi said. "We think we can not only survive, but we can really thrive in this business."

Khosrowshahi pushed back on fears that Uber has lost its "founder mentality" after Travis Kalanick, known for his growth-at-all-costs approach, resigned as CEO of the company in 2017.

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"The founder mentality, that edge, that fire, is absolutely something we want to keep going at the company," Khosrowshahi said. "It's a big part of what made the company successful and I absolutely think it will play a big part in making the company successful moving forward."

For the quarter, Uber posted a loss of $4.72 per share, which was wider than the shortfall of $3.12 per share estimated by analysts. Revenue came in light at $3.17 billion compared with consensus estimates of $3.36 billion.

The company's staggering $5.2 billion loss during the quarter was largely owed to stock-based compensation. While stock-related compensation costs are common among Silicon Valley companies, Uber's losses were bigger than total 2018 losses for all but three S&P 500 companies.

Khosrowshahi continues to face increasing pressure from investors to get Uber on track to profitability. That's likely to be a tough task, given that Uber has long subsidized its rides. He also addressed the stock's lackluster performance since Uber's IPO.

"We've got to do a better job as far as telling our story to the markets," Khosrowshahi said. "Long term, the market will take care of itself, and I think that's what we're focused on right now."

He said the company was recently forced to increase prices in New York City due to stricter regulations from the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission. As a result, Uber has had to "restrict the number of drivers" who can enter the marketplace.

"I think it's a tragedy. I think that when you put into law laws that are not market driven, you wind up helping special interests and hurting other people," Khosrowshahi said. "The neighborhoods that need transit the most ... our business is suffering there and that's just not fair."

In an interview with CNBC's Deirdre Bosa on Thursday, Khosrowshahi said 2019 will be the company's "peak investment year" and that losses should come down in 2020 and 2021. He added that he's certain "the business will eventually be a break-even and profitable business."

Excluding stock-based compensation, Uber's losses were approximately $1.3 billion, or about 30% worse than the prior quarter.