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Uber Technologies Inc. is expanding a program for businesses to order food delivery to their employees’ homes, a response to surging demand during the coronavirus pandemic.
The option, previously only in the U.S., will be available starting Wednesday to companies in Brazil, Canada, France and the U.K., Uber said. San Francisco-based Uber is accelerating a rollout of the service, with another dozen countries planned for the rest of the year.
The world’s largest ride-hailing company, like other transportation providers, is looking for new sources of revenue as the effects of the pandemic choke its main business. Uber has said rides plummeted by as much as 70% in some of the hardest-hit cities as governments place limits on travel. Lyft Inc., the second-largest provider in the U.S. and Canada, is seeking to partner with companies to provide drivers with additional work delivering food or medical supplies. In the meantime, Lyft told its drivers to apply for jobs at Amazon.com Inc.
The food delivery app Uber Eats is available in 45 countries, but the ability for businesses to cover orders for employees only arrived in the U.S. last year. Before the virus struck, customers used the service to cater lunches at the office, as well as delivering meals to staff working off-site.
In March, usage increased 28% from February, Uber said. There are more than 1,200 companies now using Uber Eats for Business. Early customers include GoodRx Inc., which runs a site to find discounted pharmaceuticals, and Talkable, a marketing software maker.
Strengthening the food delivery business was a priority for Uber even before the coronavirus outbreak. The company sees it as a key ingredient in its recipe for turning a quarterly profit by the end of this year.
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