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Uber sees first decline in business passengers, report says

Uber reportedly lost 1 percent of the ground transportation market. And in some cities, like San Francisco, it saw an 8 percent fall. Meanwhile, Lyft is on the rise.

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Uber may be seeing a drop in business passengers.

Uber

Uber is starting to see the effects of its tumultuous year.

For the first time, the ride-hailing company appears to have experienced a decline in business passengers. Certify, a management software company that tracks business expenses and travel receipts, said Tuesday that Uber has seen an average 1 percent decline in the ground transportation market. Meanwhile, Certify said Uber's rival Lyft has seen a 3 percent bump.

"The business traveler is more in the driver's seat than ever before when it comes to making purchasing decisions on the road," Certify CEO Robert Neveu said in a statement. "Whether it's a reaction to the latest headlines or the introduction of new features like tipping, the power of consumer choice has become a major factor in travel and entertainment expense spending."

Uber has been beleaguered by dozens of scandals over the last year. They kicked off with a #DeleteUber movement in January, then moved onto workplace sexual harassment allegations and an internal investigation led by former US Attorney General Eric Holder. In June, Uber's board of directors forced CEO Travis Kalanick to resign.

Now Uber is trying to turn things around with its new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, in charge. Khosrowshahi addressed Uber employees when he came on board in August saying what got Uber successfully to where it is, "is not what's going to get us to the next level" and "this company has to change."

Uber's reported decline in business travelers is minimal, but it's notable since it's the first time the company has seen a loss of passengers. Certify says Uber owned 55 percent of the ground transportation market in the second quarter. But in the third quarter, it slipped to 54 percent. In its hometown, San Francisco, Uber's market share saw the biggest loss at an 8 percent decline, according to Certify.

Lyft, on the other hand, had its best quarter ever. It went from controlling 8 percent of the ground transportation market for business travelers in the second quarter to having 11 percent in the third quarter, according to Certify. For comparison, both taxis and car rentals also dropped 1 percent in the third quarter, to 7 percent and 28 percent, respectively.

"We're very pleased with our continued growth quarter over quarter, and are focused on providing better transportation solutions for businesses across the country," David Baga, Lyft's chief business officer, said in an email. 

Uber said it's been streamlining its features for business travel. "We can provide a centralized bill, which eliminates the need for rides to flow through expense platforms in the first place," an Uber spokeswoman said in an email. "With centralized billing, companies can receive a single statement of all trips from the month and offer employees the smoothest possible experience."

Certify's data comes from its third quarter "SpendSmart" report, which is based on more than 10 million business traveler receipts and expenses. It's been tracking data on Uber and Lyft for the last three years.

First published Oct. 24, 12:00 a.m. PT.
Update, 9:43 a.m.: Adds comment from Lyft Chief Business Officer David Baga.
Update, 10:17 a.m.: Adds comment from Uber spokeswoman.

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