Uber Eats couriers are seen on Independence Square in Kyiv, Ukraine.
NurPhoto NurPhoto via Getty Images
By Aaron Pressman and Adam Lashinsky
April 26, 2019

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The word is that Uber has lowered its hoped-for valuation in its coming initial public offering to as low as $80 billion. That’s compared with the last guesstimated level of $100 billion and below the $120 billion its bankers previously hoped it would fetch. Oh, and there’s also news that PayPal will invest $500 million in Uber at its IPO price.

All this is quite interesting in the same way opinion polls are interesting in the time leading up to elections. The shifting valuations are like mood rings. Lowering valuations: bad! New, impressive backers: good!

As I wrote recently, Uber’s valuation has become anyone’s guess. It’s a big company with lots of customers, two growing lines of business (Uber Eats and Uber Freight), and an enviable collection of autonomous-vehicle scientists said to be hived off as a separate unit that will attract massive investment capital from automakers caught without their own critical mass of PhDs.

What Uber doesn’t have is profits or growth. And that’s not good. If Uber doesn’t make money and it’s not growing, it’s almost impossible to say what it’s worth. Just because it now thinks it can raise billions at an implied total value of $80 billion to $90 billion, and just because supposed smart money most recently invested at $76 billion, means nothing.

As for PayPal, it undoubtedly is making a commercial play: It wants most-favored-nation status as Uber’s payment option of choice. Given Uber’s volume—14 million trips a day, all paid with a credit card—payments are profitable to the processor regardless of whether Uber ever makes a dime.

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Fortune’s annual Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, Colo., is just over 10 weeks away: July 15-17. I’m excited to share a first spate of participants in the event, which brings together decision makers from the industry, from top executives to investors to the occasional fascinating visitor. (Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said at last year’s event it will be important before Uber’s IPO for the company to show a path to profitability. Has it?)

This year’s crop includes Amy Hess, the FBI’s top cybercrime cop; CEOs Katrina Lake of Stitch Fix, Bob Swan of Intel, and Jennifer Tejada of PagerDuty; government officials Michael Kratsios (the top White House tech policy advisor) and Hester Peirce (a crypto-savvy SEC commissioner); PayPal’s Bill Ready; and Alex Norstrom, chief premium business officer of Spotify. (First question, Alex: What’s a “chief premium business officer”?) I’ll share other names soon.

Brainstorm Tech is an invitation-only event. Data Sheet readers can request an invitation by emailing me.

Adam Lashinsky
@adamlashinsky
adam_lashinsky@fortune.com

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