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Uber Thinks Existing Drivers Can Deliver Burritos Just Fine

February 10, 2016, 7:37 PM UTC
Courtesy of Uber

Food delivery might still be in its early days at Uber, but the ride-hailing company is more than confident it will be a success.

Despite an already crowded industry, with rivals ranging from GrubHub and Seamless to rising startup Postmates and Square-owned Caviar, Uber senior VP of business Emil Michael brushed off any potential challenges during an interview on stage Tuesday at a Goldman Sachs technology conference in San Francisco.

“I don’t see how acquisitions add in that area right now,” he said when asked by an audience member if Uber is considering buying companies to expand its delivery business. Instead, he believes Uber’s existing network of thousands of drivers can handle deliveries just fine.

Uber operates both a food delivery service, UberEats, as well as a same-day delivery service for other businesses, called UberRush. They are a small but increasingly important part of Uber’s overall business, which is otherwise focused on connecting passengers with rides.

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Michael didn’t voice any concerns about drivers who deliver food—or anything else— requiring specialized skills beyond those gained by ferrying passengers or complications like parking. In Los Angeles, for example, he said there is plenty of space in office building parking lots while adding that many drivers would welcome the extra pay for making deliveries.

“The ‘driver as an entrepreneur’ is a real thing in my experience,” Michael said.

Things did turn a bit somber on the topic of China, a large and important market where Uber is spending big money to grow. When co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick said in October that the company currently has 30% to 35% of the ride-hailing market there, Chinese rival Didi Kuaidi and others quickly raised skepticism about the claim. In November, Didi touted a new report from research firm Analysys that said it had 83.2% of the market while Uber had only 16.2%.

But on Tuesday, Michael shot back by calling those more recent numbers inaccurate and based on vague criteria. His comments echoed those Kalanick’s made in October by accusing Uber’s Chinese rivals of not playing fair. Those marketshare numbers from Analysys include taxis, something Uber doesn’t work with in China.