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Is Uber the New Amazon? Ride-Hailing Company To Move Into Short-Term Staffing

written by Bella Palmer

Uber looks like it is taking a leaf from the book of fellow tech giant Amazon’s playbook with news that the company, which started life as a p2p taxi-hailing app is targeting the short-term staffing sector as the next legacy industry model it will wage war with. Uber has already established units in the transport and logistics sector through Uber Freight as well as food delivery and a recent move into electric bicycles. Uber is also investing heavily into the development of its own IP and patents in driverless car technology.

Amazon grew from an online book-seller ‘disrupting’ the incumbent bricks and mortar model into the second most valuable company in the world, with many analysts of the opinion it will soon overtake Apple in first place, by applying a business model that proved successful in one sector across others it appeared to fit. From books, Amazon moved into general online retail before content streaming, groceries and pharmaceuticals.

Uber appears to be taking a similar approach by applying its P2P ‘on demand’ and ‘gig economy’ business models to new verticals. Like Amazon, Uber is leveraging its existing and sizeable customer and ‘giggers’ base as the launch pad for new service offerings, cross-pollinating from existing businesses. Uber Works, as the staff-leasing business that is currently being developed in the background is being dubbed, looks like being the next example of that. With a massive IPO currently being planned for the first half of 2010 chasing a huge $100 billion valuation of Uber, the company needs to demonstrate to investors its further growth potential.

While there is no public timeframe for when the new unit will launch, the ‘special projects’ team working on preparing Uber Works is being recruited for and is to be based in Chicago. Uber’s headquarters is in San Francisco but it is believed that Chicago has been chosen as a base in order to better keep the project under wraps until its launch and for the advantage of the number of Uber drivers already in the city that could be interested in offering their services for the other kind of positions Uber Works will recruit for.

Gig economy digital start-ups like TaskRabbit have already launched but focus on p2p jobs such as cleaning. Uber Works looks like being more of a B2B operation in the mould of Uber Freight and the company will also be confident its scale will mean that any small existing operators in the space will not provide a serious barrier to entry.

Uber has so far refrained from any official company statement that would either confirm or deny the new unit.


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