'Ponzi scheme Uber a 99% chance of collapsing in a decade'

UBER has been described as a "Ponzi scheme" that has a "99 per cent chance" of collapsing by one veteran investor.

Speaking to Fairfax Media at a financial conference in Sydney, Magellan Financial Group chief executive Hamish Douglass slammed the ride-sharing giant as "one of the stupidest businesses in history".

"The probability of this business not going bankrupt in a decade is like 1 per cent," Mr Magellan said, describing the company's high-cost, owner-driver model as almost "valueless".

The Ponzi scheme allegation was in reference to the company's strategy of continually raising capital from investors.

"It's constantly losing money and its capital-raising strategy is a Ponzi scheme," he said.

"All they do is keep increasing their private market valuation and someone always says, 'I'll put some money up, because next time they raise, it'll be at a higher price'."

Uber, Silicon Valley's most valuable private company, has been embroiled in a string of scandals and lawsuits relating to its technology, business practices and sexist internal work culture in recent months.

Mr Douglass' comments echo an analysis late last year that described Uber as a "staggeringly unprofitable" company - it loses about $2.7 billion ($US2 billion) a year - whose goal is to gain a monopoly by wiping out taxi drivers with cheap fares subsidised by billions of dollars in investor capital.

Uber is also embroiled in a lawsuit with Google parent company Alphabet over its self-driving car technology.

Alphabet alleges a former employee of its self-driving car division Waymo stole proprietary secrets when he left to found a start-up that was later acquired by Uber. Uber denies the allegations.

Amid the controversies, numerous senior executives have departed the company in recent months, including its president, senior vice president of engineering, and vice president of product and growth.

Earlier this week, the company revealed it was introducing a "route-based pricing" feature that charges customers based on what it predicts they would be willing to pay, which some interpreted as separate customers based on income.

"The fares have to do with the demand you see on the route," Uber's head of product Daniel Graf told Business Insider. "We don't know what wealthier parts of towns are. We don't take anything related to wealth or any other characteristics into account. All we look is what are the demands for our different products. That is all it is."

News Corp Australia


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