Uber NZ is cutting a "significant" number of staff as it retrenches roles to Sydney, the Herald understands, with its local Uber Eats division being gutted.

Over the past few months, departing senior staff have not been replaced.

And now staff still with the company are going through a consultation process, the Herald has been told by a close to the situation.

A year ago, Uber said it had 30 staff in its New Zealand office, located in the inner Auckland suburb of Kingsland.


As well as recruiting and overseeing around 5000 contract drivers, the local managers are engaged in regulatory issues, the likes of ongoing negotiations with airports, signing up companies to its business service that's taking on Corporate Cabs, pitching for council tenders and new and expanding initiatives like Uber Eats, Uber Walkers and the pending of entry of Uber e-scooters into the Wellington market.

An Uber spokesperson said, "Uber is committed to building a long-term sustainable business in New Zealand and we've just marked our fifth anniversary of operating here.

"We have proposed changes to our Auckland team that will see some roles centralised to Sydney, to help us drive efficiencies in our region and globally. Our partner support centre in Kingsland will remain open."

The landscape has changed since Uber launched in New Zealand in 2014.

A 2017 law change legalised ridesharing services, ending a cat-and-mouse game with police and traffic authorities.

But Uber now faces competition for passengers - and the attention of contract drivers - from the Indian-owned Ola to two home-grown contenders: Zoomy, bankrolled by the rich list Spencer family, and the all-female DriveHer, founded by Auckland man Joel Rushton.

Ridesharing company Ola snatches market share

And Uber's IPO has brought the company's financials into focus - and, apparently, let to a round of regional belt-tightening.


Documents released in early April offered the most detailed view of the world's largest ride-hailing service since its inception a decade ago.

The filing showed Uber has been generating the robust revenue growth that entices investors, but also racked up nearly US$8 billion ($11.8b) in losses over its 10 years in existence, which mirrors the same trend challenging Lyft, Uber's main rival in the US.

Uber's revenue totaled US$11.3b in 2018, a 42 per cent increase from US$7.9b in 2017, and a giant leap from US$495 million in 2014.

The company posted a profit of US$997m last year, but that doesn't mean its ride-hailing service suddenly started to make money - far from it. The positive result stemmed from a windfall that Uber generated from the sale of its operations in Russia and Southeast Asia. Minus that one-off, the company lost US$3b.

Uber's shares were priced at US$45.00 for its May 10 IPO.

The stock sank to US$37.10 by May 13 before beginning to rally.

It was recently trading at US41.51, valuing the rideshare company at US$68.9b - or only around half the level necessary for Uber's CEO to claim his bonus, according to one US report.