Tech Startups Face New Investor Mandate: Profits Over Discounts

Uber, DoorDash and others are urged to focus more on making money than luring customers

The discounts and freebies many tech startups have used to lure customers—free lunch delivery, $3 beauty products and bargain taxi rides—have fallen out of favor with investors who are losing patience with the failure of these companies to turn a profit.

The proliferation of subsidized products and services from venture-capital-backed startups over the past decade reflected a rush by investors to fund the next behemoth consumer-tech company. The thesis: Create a market leader with loyal customers hooked by attractive deals...

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