Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi blamed the company's disappointing initial public offering (IPO) on market timing and said the company remains an "opportunity machine" for drivers despite recent protests over compensation.
In a discussion at the Economic Club of Washington, D.C., moderated by private equity billionaire David Rubenstein, Khosrowshahi said Uber's long-term financial prospects remain strong despite a weak start for the company's stock.
The company priced its stock at $45 for its IPO in May, but its share price dropped sharply out of the gate. The stock has since recovered some of those losses and was trading in the $43 range on Tuesday.
"The timing of our IPO was very much aligned with our president’s tariff wars – the same day," Khosrowshahi said. "So I think we got caught up a bit in the market swirl. And there’s nothing you can do about it."
Although Uber lost about $1 billion in the first quarter of 2019, Khosrowshahi said the company is still on solid ground.
"The business itself can be quite profitable, we’re confident of that," he said.
His appearance at the Economic Club came days after he announced the departure of the company's chief operating officer and chief marketing officer, leaving Khosrowshahi with more responsibility to turn the ride-hailing company into a profitable venture.
Khosrowshahi said he wanted to "get closer" to those essential elements of the company's business.
"Circumstances change, and you really have to consistently take a look at building your team based on what you expect for the next five years, not based on what got you here," he said.
Khosrowshahi also said:
• Uber drivers "typically" make more than $20 per hour. The company has come under scrutiny from protesters for what they describe as insufficient compensation.
• Some injuries on the company's electric scooters are unavoidable, but Uber is "working on technologies to modulate those issues," including throttling speed in certain areas. He said "people will learn" how to ride them safely.
• The American dream may be evolving to a point where some citizens don't want to own any assets, such as a car, because of the freedom it provides them.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Uber IPO was hurt by 'president's tariff wars,' CEO Dara Khosrowshahi says