For Uber, a diverse business model is the key to weathering COVID-19
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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
Millions of Americans are unemployed, but businesses say they are having trouble hiring. Why?
This economic crisis is unusual compared to traditional recessions, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist with Glassdoor. “Many workers are still sitting out of the labor force because of health concerns or child care needs, and that makes it tough to find workers regardless of what you’re doing with wages or benefits,” Zhao said. “An extra dollar an hour isn’t going to make a cashier with preexisting conditions feel that it’s safe to return to work.” This can be seen in the restaurant industry: Some workers have quit or are reluctant to apply because of COVID-19 concerns, low pay, meager benefits and the stress that comes with a fast-paced, demanding job. Restaurants have been willing to offer signing bonuses and temporary wage increases. One McDonald’s is even paying people $50 just to interview.
Could waiving patents increase the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines?
India and South Africa have introduced a proposal to temporarily suspend patents on COVID-19 vaccines. Backers of the plan say it would increase the supply of vaccines around the world by allowing more countries to produce them. Skeptics say it’s not that simple. There’s now enough supply in the U.S that any adult who wants a shot should be able to get one soon. That reality is years away for most other countries. More than 100 countries have backed the proposal to temporarily waive COVID-19 vaccine patents. The U.S isn’t one of them, but the White House has said it’s considering the idea.
Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?
As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy continues reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.
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