Uber, which had already been spending heavily to lure back drivers who left early in the pandemic, responded in March by charging riders a small fuel fee for each trip, which went to drivers, and said on Wednesday that it had more drivers on its platform than at any time since the pandemic began.
That confidence — and its rosy outlook for the next quarter — differed starkly from its rival Lyft, which reported financial results on Tuesday and saw its stock plunge 25 percent in after-hours trading after company executives said on an earnings call that they were still struggling to persuade drivers to return to the platform and would be spending more money to incentivize them to do so.
Uber’s shares fell along with Lyft’s, and Uber said shortly after that it would release its financial results hours earlier than initially planned on Wednesday, seemingly in an attempt to differentiate its results from Lyft’s and pre-empt a drop in its stock when the market opened later that morning. Uber’s stock, though, was down about 8 percent in pre-market trading.
On a call with investors Wednesday, Mr. Khosrowshahi acknowledged that Uber also needed to continue to increase the number of drivers on its platform. But he painted an optimistic picture of the company’s business by pointing to areas of potential growth, like Uber’s partnerships with taxi companies and its investments in the freight industry.
“There’s a lot of work to do ahead of us, but this is a machine that’s rolling,” he said of the supply of drivers, adding that Uber was “starting to show separation against our competitors.”
Though Lyft said the number of active drivers in the first three months of the year grew 40 percent compared with the number from the same time last year, Logan Green, the company’s chief executive, also said that drivers had “signed off” during Omicron and had yet to return in the numbers needed to meet rebounding demand.
Lyft reported better-than-expected revenue, $876 million, a 44 percent increase from the first quarter of 2021, and $197 million in net loss, a 54 percent decrease from last year. The company had 17.8 million active riders, up from 13.5 million at the beginning of last year but down from the nearly 19 million it reported toward the end of 2021.