Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told employees the company will cut back on hiring and other costs to address a "seismic shift" in the market, according to an email obtained by CNBC.
Khosrowshahi said Uber will treat hiring as a "privilege" and scale back on the "least efficient" marketing and incentive costs. "We will be even more hardcore about costs across the board," he wrote in the email.
"Meeting the moment means making trade-offs," he said. "The hurdle rate for our investments has gotten higher, and that means that some initiatives that require substantial capital will be slowed. We have to make sure our unit economics work before we go big."
Uber is the latest to cut back on spending as companies grapple with the war in Ukraine, the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain failures, inflation and other issues. Meta implemented a hiring freeze for the rest of the year, and several startups that took off during the pandemic are laying off workers. Lyft, on the other hand, plans to increase spending to win back more drivers.
Khosrowshahi's email followed a meeting with investors in New York and Boston following Uber's earnings report for the first quarter. "In times of uncertainty, investors look for safety," he wrote. The company posted a loss of $5.9 billion in the first quarter, even as revenue rose to $6.9 billion. That rise reflects the fact that COVID-19 restrictions are receding, and more people are heading back out into the world.
Uber Eats' delivery business is also going strong. That's more than can be said for some competitors like Grubhub, which is reportedly up for sale less than a year after being bought by Just Eat Takeaway. Khosrowshahi said investors are happy with Uber Eats' trajectory, which surprised him because, he wrote, "I firmly believe Delivery should be growing even faster." That said, he wondered how a recession could impact the delivery business. Still, he ended his email imploring workers to "make it legendary," whatever "it" might be. Just with slightly tighter cash flow.