New Stats Suggest Uber, Despite Its Rash of Controversies, Is Still Dramatically Outpacing Lyft

It's also giving little ground to Gett

The frontrunner keeps on moving briskly, while the challenger does what it can. Getty Images
Headshot of Christopher Heine

What kind of company emerges relatively unscathed after enduring so much bad news? Uber does, apparently.

After a toxic five and a half months of public relations disasters that have rarely been seen in even the controversial tech world, the San Francisco ride-hailing app appears to have nonetheless grown healthily globally, per App Annie data provided exclusively to Adweek on Thursday.

It picked up 50 million downloads worldwide in the first quarter, twice as many as the same period in 2016, with a significant chunk coming from Brazil, App Annie said. Compare that figure to the business intelligence company’s first-quarter numbers for more U.S.-focused Lyft, which had 5.2 million downloads, and Gett’s total of 1.3 million downloads. Though the raw numbers are much more modest, Lyft also more than doubled its year-over-year downloads in the first quarter, with 2.4 million more, and Gett was a little better than flat, bringing in 300,000 more downloads in the first quarter of this year compared with the same period in 2016.

App Annie’s full January-through-May data wasn’t available, though a rep for the company suggested the first-quarter trends would hold true for the past couple of months.

It did specifically pull numbers for May, though, which revealed that Lyft has made better inroads in America, possibly due to all of Uber’s controversies. The app with the pink logo gained 1.5 million downloads in the U.S. in May compared with Uber’s 2.6 million. That’s a decent improvement for Lyft when looking at the 1 million downloads it had in May 2016 to Uber’s 2.3 million for the same period, according to App Annie.

With all those numbers in sight, the big remaining question seems to be: How well would Uber have done without the ridiculous parade of scandals in ’17 ?

Here’s a laundry list of the $70 billion company’s low points this year:

  • There’s been not one, but two phases to the online movement known as #DeleteUber.
  • There was the scandalous bombshell in February, when Susan Fowler, a former engineer at Uber, wrote a lengthy blog post about her misogyny-ridden 12 months at the company, outlining allegations about sexual harassment by her manager and the human resources department’s subsequent inaction.
  • Uber CEO Travis Kalanick was caught on camera swearing at an Uber driver, embarrassing a company some believe takes advantage of its drivers.
  • The Information reported on March 24 that Kalanick and five employees visited a Hong Kong bar a few years ago known to also function as a brothel.
  • On June 6, Uber laid off 20 employees after an internal investigation found them to be enablers of harassment, discrimination and bullying.
  • A day later, the company fired Eric Alexander, its president of business in Asia, for bungling a 2014 rape investigation in India.
  • Uber vp of business Emil Michael departed five days later after a multiple scandals at the company.
  • Kalanick took a leave of absence on June 14, only to step down as CEO a week later.

@Chris_Heine Christopher Heine is a New York-based editor and writer.