Uber: An Empire in the Making?, Spanish Version Net Present Value (NPV) / MBA Resources

Introduction to Net Present Value (NPV) - What is Net Present Value (NPV) ? How it impacts financial decisions regarding project management?

NPV solution for Uber: An Empire in the Making?, Spanish Version case study

At Oak Spring University, we provide corporate level professional Net Present Value (NPV) case study solution. Uber: An Empire in the Making?, Spanish Version case study is a Harvard Business School (HBR) case study written by Salvatore Cantale, Sarah Hutton. The Uber: An Empire in the Making?, Spanish Version (referred as “Uber Uber's” from here on) case study provides evaluation & decision scenario in field of Strategy & Execution. It also touches upon business topics such as - Value proposition, Strategy, Technology.

The net present value (NPV) of an investment proposal is the present value of the proposal’s net cash flows less the proposal’s initial cash outflow. If a project’s NPV is greater than or equal to zero, the project should be accepted.

NPV = Present Value of Future Cash Flows LESS Project’s Initial Investment

Case Description of Uber: An Empire in the Making?, Spanish Version Case Study

The case study is set in early December 2014. Uber has just completed a round of funding and as a result has an eye-watering valuation of US$41 billion. The case initially explains the service Uber offered to its riders and then gives an overview of the origins and early growth of the company, as well as some insights into the influence of co-founder and CEO, Travis Kalanick, on the company culture. The following section outlines the characteristics of the traditional taxi industry, which was initially Uber's primary competitor. Details of Uber's disruptive business model are implicit in the case but the components are not spelled out to the reader. Rather, the intention is to draw this out in small group or plenary discussions through the assignment questions. The case goes on to review more recent growth, outlining some of the PR issues the company has faced with respect to aggressive business practices and questions around its data privacy policies. A possible softening of management's approach is suggested in the final section.

Case Authors : Salvatore Cantale, Sarah Hutton

Topic : Strategy & Execution

Related Areas : Strategy, Technology

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 6% for Uber: An Empire in the Making?, Spanish Version Case Study

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 6 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10023333) -10023333 - -
Year 1 3461036 -6562297 3461036 0.9434 3265128
Year 2 3973141 -2589156 7434177 0.89 3536081
Year 3 3960594 1371438 11394771 0.8396 3325391
Year 4 3225263 4596701 14620034 0.7921 2554710
TOTAL 14620034 12681311

The Net Present Value at 6% discount rate is 2657978

In isolation the NPV number doesn't mean much but put in right context then it is one of the best method to evaluate project returns. In this article we will cover -

Different methods of capital budgeting

What is NPV & Formula of NPV,
How it is calculated,
How to use NPV number for project evaluation, and
Scenario Planning given risks and management priorities.

Capital Budgeting Approaches

Methods of Capital Budgeting

There are four types of capital budgeting techniques that are widely used in the corporate world –

1. Payback Period
2. Internal Rate of Return
3. Profitability Index
4. Net Present Value

Apart from the Payback period method which is an additive method, rest of the methods are based on Discounted Cash Flow technique. Even though cash flow can be calculated based on the nature of the project, for the simplicity of the article we are assuming that all the expected cash flows are realized at the end of the year.

Discounted Cash Flow approaches provide a more objective basis for evaluating and selecting investment projects. They take into consideration both –

1. Magnitude of both incoming and outgoing cash flows – Projects can be capital intensive, time intensive, or both. Uber Uber's shareholders have preference for diversified projects investment rather than prospective high income from a single capital intensive project.
2. Timing of the expected cash flows – stockholders of Uber Uber's have higher preference for cash returns over 4-5 years rather than 10-15 years given the nature of the volatility in the industry.

Formula and Steps to Calculate Net Present Value (NPV) of Uber: An Empire in the Making?, Spanish Version

NPV = Net Cash In Flowt1 / (1+r)t1 + Net Cash In Flowt2 / (1+r)t2 + … Net Cash In Flowtn / (1+r)tn
Less Net Cash Out Flowt0 / (1+r)t0

Where t = time period, in this case year 1, year 2 and so on.
r = discount rate or return that could be earned using other safe proposition such as fixed deposit or treasury bond rate. Net Cash In Flow – What the firm will get each year.
Net Cash Out Flow – What the firm needs to invest initially in the project.

Step 1 – Understand the nature of the project and calculate cash flow for each year.
Step 2 – Discount those cash flow based on the discount rate.
Step 3 – Add all the discounted cash flow.
Step 4 – Selection of the project

Why Strategy & Execution Managers need to know Financial Tools such as Net Present Value (NPV)?

In our daily workplace we often come across people and colleagues who are just focused on their core competency and targets they have to deliver. For example marketing managers at Uber Uber's often design programs whose objective is to drive brand awareness and customer reach. But how that 30 point increase in brand awareness or 10 point increase in customer touch points will result into shareholders’ value is not specified.

To overcome such scenarios managers at Uber Uber's needs to not only know the financial aspect of project management but also needs to have tools to integrate them into part of the project development and monitoring plan.

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 15%

After working through various assumptions we reached a conclusion that risk is far higher than 6%. In a reasonably stable industry with weak competition - 15% discount rate can be a good benchmark.

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 15 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10023333) -10023333 - -
Year 1 3461036 -6562297 3461036 0.8696 3009597
Year 2 3973141 -2589156 7434177 0.7561 3004265
Year 3 3960594 1371438 11394771 0.6575 2604155
Year 4 3225263 4596701 14620034 0.5718 1844055
TOTAL 10462071

The Net NPV after 4 years is 438738

(10462071 - 10023333 )

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 20%

If the risk component is high in the industry then we should go for a higher hurdle rate / discount rate of 20%.

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 20 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10023333) -10023333 - -
Year 1 3461036 -6562297 3461036 0.8333 2884197
Year 2 3973141 -2589156 7434177 0.6944 2759126
Year 3 3960594 1371438 11394771 0.5787 2292010
Year 4 3225263 4596701 14620034 0.4823 1555393
TOTAL 9490726

The Net NPV after 4 years is -532607

At 20% discount rate the NPV is negative (9490726 - 10023333 ) so ideally we can't select the project if macro and micro factors don't allow financial managers of Uber Uber's to discount cash flow at lower discount rates such as 15%.

Acceptance Criteria of a Project based on NPV

Simplest Approach – If the investment project of Uber Uber's has a NPV value higher than Zero then finance managers at Uber Uber's can ACCEPT the project, otherwise they can reject the project. This means that project will deliver higher returns over the period of time than any alternate investment strategy.

In theory if the required rate of return or discount rate is chosen correctly by finance managers at Uber Uber's, then the stock price of the Uber Uber's should change by same amount of the NPV. In real world we know that share price also reflects various other factors that can be related to both macro and micro environment.

In the same vein – accepting the project with zero NPV should result in stagnant share price. Finance managers use discount rates as a measure of risk components in the project execution process.

Sensitivity Analysis

Project selection is often a far more complex decision than just choosing it based on the NPV number. Finance managers at Uber Uber's should conduct a sensitivity analysis to better understand not only the inherent risk of the projects but also how those risks can be either factored in or mitigated during the project execution. Sensitivity analysis helps in –

What are the key aspects of the projects that need to be monitored, refined, and retuned for continuous delivery of projected cash flows.

What will be a multi year spillover effect of various taxation regulations.

What can impact the cash flow of the project.

Understanding of risks involved in the project.

What are the uncertainties surrounding the project Initial Cash Outlay (ICO’s). ICO’s often have several different components such as land, machinery, building, and other equipment.

Some of the assumptions while using the Discounted Cash Flow Methods –

Projects are assumed to be Mutually Exclusive – This is seldom the came in modern day giant organizations where projects are often inter-related and rejecting a project solely based on NPV can result in sunk cost from a related project.

Independent projects have independent cash flows – As explained in the marketing project – though the project may look independent but in reality it is not as the brand awareness project can be closely associated with the spending on sales promotions and product specific advertising.

Negotiation Strategy of Uber: An Empire in the Making?, Spanish Version

References & Further Readings

Salvatore Cantale, Sarah Hutton (2018), "Uber: An Empire in the Making?, Spanish Version Harvard Business Review Case Study. Published by HBR Publications.

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