Uber is making an aggressive drive into meal delivery, backed by a wave of staff recruitment, with the U.S. tech heavyweight gearing up to enter at least 22 new countries and take on local rivals.In a measure of rising ambition beyond its taxi business, Uberwill begin delivering meals in Amsterdam on Thursday just as Dutch market leader Takeaway.com, begins trading on the city's stock market.
And according to current job listings on Uber and other recruiting sites - for about 150 roles ranging from general managers and sales staff to bike couriers - UberEats is planning to enter at least 22 new countries across the world in the near future. That is on top of the six countries where it already operates.
As recently as May, Uber executives were signaling that UberEats' international ambitions were a modest extension of its core business of transporting people. But its job hiring efforts over the last three months suggest something more ambitious is taking shape.
"UberEats is one (business) we feel incredibly confident is resonating across the world and resonating across the footprint of the cities in which Uber operates the transport business," Jambu Palaniappan, recently named head of UberEats for Europe, Middle East and Africa, told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday.
He named eight cities including Dubai and Johannesburg that UberEats plans to enter by the end of the year, but declined to spell out later targets.
Europe is home base to many of the most active international players in the online food takeaway business. They are counting on their local ties, established customer bases and sprawling restaurant networks to insulate them from U.S. tech giants.
The biggest international players - Britain's Just Eat (JE.L), Germany's Delivery Hero and Takeaway.com - focus on advertising local takeaways and booking orders for nearby users, while leaving deliveries to the restaurants themselves.
They have been raising fresh capital or swapping assets to bulk up in the expectation that Uber would ratchet up its challenge....MUCH MORE
Meanwhile, smaller players - Belgium's Take Eat Easy, delivering in 20 European cities, and London-based Pronto, which cooked meals as well as delivered them - have shut down in recent months, as the rush of funding that created dozens of start-ups modeled on Uber in recent years has dwindled.
Investors have poured nearly $10 billion (8.9 billion euros) into 421 food delivery deals since the start of 2014, but funding dropped by more than half in the first six months of 2016, according to research from CBInsights....