COVID-19

For Uber, a diverse business model is the key to weathering COVID-19

Erika Beras Aug 6, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
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An Uber Eats delivery worker riding an electric scooter in New York City in March. Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images
COVID-19

For Uber, a diverse business model is the key to weathering COVID-19

Erika Beras Aug 6, 2020
An Uber Eats delivery worker riding an electric scooter in New York City in March. Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Uber is expected to report quarterly results Thursday. It’s been a tough time for the ride-sharing part of its business, with people sheltering in place and hunkering down during the pandemic. So, the company has had to make some changes.

Uber’s core business of ride-sharing relies on people going out. Which was a problem when people started staying at home. Gad Allon is a professor of operations and information at Wharton. He’s looked at how the shutdown has affected the company and describes it as a “huge hit.” 

“It would take a while to bounce back,” Allon said.

But Allon said that unlike some other companies, Uber has diversified. There’s Uber Eats, a food ordering and delivery platform. This spring, some people ordered more takeout food and drinks from restaurants. 

Then, the company committed to buying delivery startup Postmates for more than $2.6 billion. New York University professor Arun Sundararajan, author of “The Sharing Economy,” said that acquisition shows “that they are doubling down on the Eats and delivery business as their path to short-term growth.”  

And he said, in a few years, when more of us are back to working in offices, we may use more ride-share services like Uber again. 

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

With a slow vaccine rollout so far, how has the government changed its approach?

On Tuesday, Jan. 12, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced changes to how the federal government is distributing vaccine doses. The CDC has expanded coronavirus vaccine eligibility to everyone 65 and older, along with people with conditions that might raise their risks of complications from COVID-19. The new approach also looks to reward those states that are the most efficient by giving them more doses, but critics say that won’t address underlying problems some states are having with vaccine rollout.

What kind of help can small businesses get right now?

A new round of Paycheck Protection Program loans recently became available for pandemic-ravaged businesses. These loans don’t have to be paid back if rules are met. Right now, loans are open for first-time applicants. And the application has to go through community banking organizations — no big banks, for now, at least. This rollout is designed to help business owners who couldn’t get a PPP loan before.

What does the hiring situation in the U.S. look like as we enter the new year?

New data on job openings and postings provide a glimpse of what to expect in the job market in the coming weeks and months. This time of year typically sees a spike in hiring and job-search activity, says Jill Chapman with Insperity, a recruiting services firm. But that kind of optimistic planning for the future isn’t really the vibe these days. Job postings have been lagging on the job search site Indeed. Listings were down about 11% in December compared to a year earlier.

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