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Opinion
Noah Smith

Shares of a Publicly Traded Uber Might Be Crashing

Private companies avoid the tug-of-war between optimists and pessimists.
Guess what it's worth.

Guess what it's worth.

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

At Uber Technologies Inc., chaos reigns. The ride-hailing company’s investors forced Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick to resign earlier this month, and much of its C-suite is now empty. Meanwhile, Uber is being sued by Alphabet Inc. (Google) in a high-stakes lawsuit over self-driving car technology, and the company is still suffering the fallout from explosive revelations of a sexist corporate culture. On top of these problems, the company continues to lose billions of dollars a year, putting the viability of its core business model in doubt.

So with all these problems, Uber’s sky-high valuation must have taken a big hit, right? If it were a public company, Uber’s stock price would almost certainly have fallen in response to the relentless parade of negative news. But here’s the catch: Uber is a private company, so no one knows how much markets really value it. The number most commonly quoted in recent months is $69 billion, rounded up to $70 billion. Its last major funding round was in June 2016, when it took $3.5 billion from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund at a valuation of $62.5 billion. But that was a year ago, before its troubles began.