Education Series: Single-Stock ETPs

Airbnb and Uber: All Set to Take Off?

Your capital is at risk if you invest. You could lose all your investment. Please see the full risk warning here.

Websim is the retail division of Intermonte, the primary intermediary of the Italian stock exchange for institutional investors. Leverage Shares often features in its speculative analysis based on macros/fundamentals. However, the information is published in Italian. To provide better information for our non-Italian investors, we bring to you a quick translation of the analysis they present to Italian retail investors. To ensure rapid delivery, text in the charts will not be translated. The views expressed here are of Websim. Leverage Shares in no way endorses these views. If you are unsure about the suitability of an investment, please seek financial advice. View the original at

Few stocks exemplify the gig economy as much as the likes of Airbnb and Uber. Airbnb challenges the near-exclusivity of large hotel chains while Uber has almost completely diminished the monopoly of heavily-organised taxi operators.

The pandemic, however, was a challenging time for certain sections of the economy: travel restrictions and reduced commutes spelt an ominous time for these rising stars. In this article, we highlight the latest goings-on that a shrewd investor would be sure to take into consideration.

Airbnb: Up Until the Pandemic

Prior to its IPO on December 10 of last year, Airbnb went from strength to strength in its yearly valuations by private investors. In 2015, it was the first company to enter Cuba after the Obama Administration’s easing of restrictions. Its roster of investors – both past and present – included the likes of venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, Hollywood actor Ashton Kutcher, Google Capital and Technology Crossover Ventures (TCV).

In terms of economic impact measured in terms of both host earnings as well as other expenses borne by users, the company’s biggest beneficiary was estimated to be the U.S., with mostly other Western countries making up the rest of the Top 10 list.

But then the pandemic hit. The company laid off 25% of its workforce – around 1,900 employees – in May 2020. The company lowered its internal valuation from $31 billion to $26 billion, and considered delaying plans for an IPO – before going public in December to raise $3.5 billion of capital.

The number of bookings vis-à-vis revenues painted a similarly grim picture.

In terms of competitive landscape, the company –as of 2019 – was the junior-most but growing competitor to other travel portals in terms of gross bookings. However, it is no stretch to assume that 2020 was a bad year for both Airbnb and its competitors.

Comparative Market Share of Gross Bookings in 2019

Uber: Up Until the Pandemic

Starting off as UberCab in 2009, Uber became the brand most people associate with ride-hailing after it took the U.S. by storm and expanded into Europe, Asia and South America. The company has three arms: Eats (a food delivery service), Freight (a logistics service) and an autonomous vehicle unit (Advanced Technologies Group or “ATG”).

On May 10, 2019, the company went public with an IPO following which the share price dropped 11%, resulting in the biggest IPO first-day dollar loss in US history. Doing a side-by-side comparison of the company’s performance versus its perception and growth reveals that high revenues do not necessarily translate to high profits.

To understand why, it’s important to note that Uber is actively at war with the organised personal transportation sector. To draw customers towards it, the company expends a vast sum of money on administrative expenses to continuously draw in a large pool of drivers as well as on marketing and promotions to keep users hooked. The charges levied on a user does not go very far in keeping the drivers interested and are too low to translate to a high profit for the company. In other words, every ride on Uber actually costs the company money.

After the pandemic hit, the company announced plans to lay off around 14% of its workforce – 3,700 employees – followed by an announcement a fortnight later that a further 3,000 employees would be laid off and 45 office locations would be closed.

As a whole, North America was and remains its major revenue earner.

The company’s Eats and Freights arms weren’t historically a major revenue earner. However, the Eats arm proved to be a lifesaver for the company during the pandemic when food delivery orders skyrocketed.

In fact, in terms of revenues earned, Uber bounced back from the effects of the pandemic very quickly and built an upward momentum from Q3 2020 onwards.

But, we reiterate, whether high revenues translates to profits passed down to Uber’s shareholders is a question mark.

Another key feature of the company has been its active acquisition/partnership spree. In 2016, the company sold its China operations to DiDi in exchange for an 18% stake in DiDi and a commitment from the latter to invest $1 billion in Uber. In 2018, Uber combined its operations in Russia and some CIS countries with those of Yandex.Taxi and invested $225 million in the joint venture. It did the same with Southeast Asia-based Uber clone Grab in exchange for a 27.5% ownership stake. In 2020, it acquired Careem – an Uber clone in the Middle East and North Africa – and sold its Eats operation in India to Zomato in exchange for a 9.99% stake.

Interestingly, in these current times, the company acquired U.S. delivery service Postmates for $2.65 billion in December of last year. In January of this year, Uber ATG was sold to self-driving startup Aurora Innovation for $4 billion while Uber invested $400 million into Aurora to take a 26% stake. In February, the company announced the purchase of U.S. alcohol delivery service Drizly for $1.1 billion in cash and stock.

All of these investments will be additional sources of market value impact for the company’s stock.

Airbnb and Uber: Where They Stand Today

In many respects, the two companies are quite similar despite being in different areas of the economy: their primary market is North America, they’re both champions of the “gig economy”, they’ve both had a grim 2020, and they both started off 2021 with a bang by outperforming the S&P 500 in Q1 2021.

In Q2 2021, however, the difference in outlook between the two becomes apparent. Airbnb is widely expected – even by Reddit’s avid stock-watching crowds – to become a highly-valued stock. Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky stated during the Q1 2021 update that the company expects the return of urban and cross-border travel to give the company significant tailwinds in the coming quarters. On top of that, as remote work becomes more and more prominent, this will likely boost the company’s home-sharing segment.

Meanwhile, Uber – like most Western ride-sharing companies – has been battling lack of driver availability, many of whom sought other avenues of work during the pandemic. As a result, fares in the U.S. have risen by an average of 40% in the month of June. But the company does have a ray of light in in the East – its stake in DiDi Chuxing (presently diluted to 15.4%) is bound to add an estimated $9-12.8 billion in value to Uber after the Chinese ride-sharing behemoth goes public later this year. DiDi also owns the largest electric vehicle charging network in China, with over 30% market share of total public charging volume in the first quarter of 2021. This, too, will prove to be an indirect means of shoring up Uber’s profits since China is the world’s largest market for electric vehicles.

However, in the immediate short term, Uber’s investee is in hot water: less than a week after DiDi listed on the New York Stock Exchange, the Chinese government announced on July 2nd that new users would not be able to download the company’s ride-hailing app due to an ongoing review after the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) reported that the app illegally collected users’ personal data. By July 6th, the company’s newly-listed shares fell more than 19% and lost $15 billion of market value on that day alone. The company also faces two lawsuits in US federal courts alleging that the company failed to disclose ongoing talks with Chinese authorities on this matter. For Uber, this is a cause for concern: the perceived diversification benefits from its investment doesn’t seem to be bearing fruit just yet. However, in the long run – barring DiDi’s complete closure by the Chinese government – it is still likely that investment benefits would materialize after the matter at hand is satisfactorily resolved.

Of course, the direction in which the stock is supposed to go is a matter of intense conjecture. Whether up or down, the price trajectory can be reasonably expected to be quite bumpy.


  1. Uber Revenue and Usage Statistics (2021), Business of Apps
  2. Understanding Why Uber Loses Money, Crunchbase News
  3. Airbnb Revenue and Usage Statistics (2021), Business of Apps
  4. Here’s how much Uber, Softbank and Tencent can possibly gain from Didi’s IPO — the largest Chinese share sale since Alibaba, Business Insider

Your capital is at risk if you invest. You could lose all your investment. Please see the full risk warning here.

Related Posts


Generic filters
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in excerpt
Filter by Categories
In the press
Market Insights

Sandeep Rao


Sandeep joined Leverage Shares in September 2020. He leads research on existing and new product lines, asset classes, and strategies, with special emphasis on analysis of recent events and developments.

Sandeep has longstanding experience with financial markets. Starting with a Chicago-based hedge fund as a financial engineer, his career has spanned a variety of domains and organizations over a course of 8 years – from Barclays Capital’s Prime Services Division to (most recently) Nasdaq’s Index Research Team.

Sandeep holds an M.S. in Finance as well as an MBA from Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago.

Violeta Todorova

Senior Research

Violeta joined Leverage Shares in September 2022. She is responsible for conducting technical analysis, macro and equity research, providing valuable insights to help shape investment strategies for clients.

Prior to joining LS, Violeta worked at several high-profile investment firms in Australia, such as Tollhurst and Morgans Financial where she spent the past 12 years of her career.

Violeta is a certified market technician from the Australian Technical Analysts Association and holds a Post Graduate Diploma of Applied Finance and Investment from Kaplan Professional (FINSIA), Australia, where she was a lecturer for a number of years.

Julian Manoilov

Senior Analyst

Julian joined Leverage Shares in 2018 as part of the company’s premier expansion in Eastern Europe. He is responsible for web content and raising brand awareness.

Julian has been academically involved with economics, psychology, sociology, European politics & linguistics. He has experience in business development and marketing through business ventures of his own.

For Julian, Leverage Shares is an innovator in the field of finance & fintech, and he always looks forward with excitement to share the next big news with investors in the UK & Europe.

Oktay Kavrak


Oktay joined Leverage Shares in late 2019. He is responsible for driving business growth by maintaining key relationships and developing sales activity across English-speaking markets.

He joined LS from UniCredit, where he was a corporate relationship manager for multinationals. His previous experience is in corporate finance and fund administration at firms like IBM Bulgaria and DeGiro / FundShare.

Oktay holds a BA in Finance & Accounting and a post-graduate certificate in Entrepreneurship from Babson College. He is also a CFA charterholder.

Welcome to Leverage Shares

Terms and Conditions


If you are not classified as an institutional investor, you will be categorised as a private/retail investor. At this time, we cannot send communications directly to private/retail investors. You are welcome to view the contents of this website.

If you are an ‘Institutional investor’, you affirm either that you are a Per Se Professional Client, or that you wish to be treated as an Eligible Counterparty Client, both as defined under the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive, or an equivalent in a jurisdiction outside the European Economic Area.

Risk Warnings

The value of an investment in ETPs may go down as well as up and past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Trading in ETPs may not be suitable for all types of investor as they carry a high degree of risk. You may lose all of your initial investment. Only speculate with money you can afford to lose. Changes in exchange rates may also cause your investment to go up or down in value. Tax laws may be subject to change. Please ensure that you fully understand the risks involved. If in any doubt, please seek independent financial advice. Investors should refer to the section entitled “Risk Factors” in the relevant prospectus for further details of these and other risks associated with an investment in the securities offered by the Issuer.

This website is provided for your general information only and does not constitute investment advice or an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy any investment.

Nothing on this website is advice on the merits of any product or investment, nothing constitutes investment, legal, tax or any other advice nor is it to be relied on in making an investment decision. Prospective investors should obtain independent investment advice and inform themselves as to applicable legal requirements, exchange control regulations and taxes in their jurisdiction.

This website complies with the regulatory requirements of the United Kingdom. There may be laws in your country of nationality or residence or in the country from which you access this website which restrict the extent to which the website may be made available to you.

United States Visitors

The information provided on this site is not directed to any United States person or any person in the United States, any state thereof, or any of its territories or possessions.

Persons accessing this website in the European Economic Area

Access to this site is restricted to Non-U.S. Persons outside the United States within the meaning of Regulation S under the U.S. Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”). Each person accessing this site, by so doing, acknowledges that: (1) it is not a U.S. person (within the meaning of Regulation S under the Securities Act) and is located outside the U.S. (within the meaning of Regulation S under the Securities Act); and (2) any securities described herein (A) have not been and will not be registered under the Securities Act or with any securities regulatory authority of any state or other jurisdiction and (B) may not be offered, sold, pledged or otherwise transferred except to persons outside the U.S. in accordance with Regulation S under the Securities Act pursuant to the terms of such securities. None of the funds on this website are registered under the United States Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended (the “Advisers Act”).

Exclusion of Liability

Certain documents made available on the website have been prepared and issued by persons other than Leverage Shares Management Company. This includes any Prospectus document. Leverage Shares Management Company is not responsible in any way for the content of any such document. Except in those cases, the information on the website has been given in good faith and every effort has been made to ensure its accuracy. Nevertheless, Leverage Shares Management Company shall not be responsible for loss occasioned as a result of reliance placed on any part of the website and it makes no guarantee as to the accuracy of any information or content on the website. The description of any ETP Security referred to in this website is a general one. The terms and conditions applicable to investors will be set out in the Prospectus, available on the website and should be read prior to making any investment.

Leverage Investment

Leverage Shares exchange-traded products (ETPs) provide leveraged exposure and are only suitable for experienced investors with knowledge of the risks and potential benefits of leveraged investment strategies.


Leverage Shares Management Company may collect data about your computer, including, where available, your IP address, operating system and browser type, for system administration and other similar purposes (click here for more information). These are statistical data about users’ browsing actions and patterns, and they do not identify any individual user of the website. This is achieved by the use of cookies. A cookie is a small file of letters and numbers that is put on your computer if you agree to accept it. By clicking ‘I agree’ below, you are consenting to the use of cookies as described here. These cookies allow you to be distinguished from other users of the website, which helps Leverage Shares Company provide you with a better experience when you browse the website and also allows the website to be improved from time to time. Please note that you can adjust your browser settings to delete or block cookies, but you may not be able to access parts of our website without them.

This website is maintained by Leverage Shares Management Company, which is a limited liability company and is incorporated in Ireland with registered offices at 2 Grand Canal Square, Grand Canal Harbour, Dublin 2. 

By clicking you agree to the Terms and Conditions displayed.