Uber acquires Cornershop, will launch grocery delivery service

Uber just acquired a grocery delivery startup called Cornershop to help expand its business.

Previously, The Burn-In reported that Uber is working hard to launch an air taxi division within the next few years. That move comes at the same time that the company is expanding both its autonomous robotaxi segment and its trucking business. As such, it seems that Uber is already stretched pretty thin.

However, the ambitious more-than-ridesharing company doesn’t seem to be fazed by this. On Friday, The Verge reported that Uber has acquired an online grocery delivery startup called Cornershop. The move will allow the company to expand into the growing market much faster than if it were to start its own program from scratch.

New Player in the Game

Interestingly, Uber is choosing to join yet another competitive field by setting its sights on home grocery delivery. It will join big players like Amazon, Kroger, and Walmart to compete for the minuscule three percent of grocery sales that happen online in the United States.

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Unlike shopping for other goods on Amazon, consumers experience a great deal of hesitation to buy their groceries online. Many attribute this hesitancy to the fact that they can’t pick out specific items from the shelves and because they fear that they’ll pay more than if they went to the store.

Now, Uber will swim upstream to try and combat these fears while making home grocery delivery more popular. The deal with Cornershop for an undisclosed amount (though presumably a hefty sum) will help it do so quickly. However, it does still need to gain regulatory approval in the U.S.

The delivery startup based out of Santiago, Chile, operates in its home country as well as Peru, Mexico, and Canada. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in a statement that his company will, “Scale their vision, and look forward to working with them to bring grocery delivery to millions of consumers on the Uber platform.”

Uber plans to slowly scale the business with the goal of eventually rolling it out in the U.S.

Second Time’s the Charm

Those who have been aboard the Uber train for many years might remember the company’s first attempt at a grocery delivery service: Uber Rush. Back in 2014, the young startup launched the program in New York City, San Francisco, and Chicago. Unfortunately, Uber Rush never really took off. It was shut down just four years later in 2018.

Now, Uber wants to try again.

As far as stretching itself too thin, Uber believes that this is all part of the plan. In fact, the company envisions itself as an “operating system” for major cities. From car rides to meal delivery and helicopter trips to grocery delivery, the puzzle does seem to be coming together.

Khosrowshahi says, “I think we’re going to look at a lot of categories going forward and some of them we will fulfill through our own internal services. But I do think that you should think about Uber as a marketplace.”

While this vision does seem plausible, it remains to be seen if Uber can actually accomplish it before it either runs out of money or loses the faith of the public.