SAN FRANCISCO — Uber on Thursday laid off roughly 185 people from its Postmates division, or about 15 percent of Postmates’ total work force, said three people with knowledge of the actions, as the ride-hailing giant consolidates its food delivery operations to weather the pandemic.
Most of the executive team at Postmates, including Bastian Lehmann, the founder and chief executive of the popular food delivery app, will leave the company, said the people, who spoke on condition they not be named because they were not authorized to speak publicly. Uber bought Postmates last year for $2.65 billion.
Some Postmates vice presidents and other executives will leave with multimillion dollar exit packages, the people said. Some employees may also see reduced compensation packages, the people said, while others will be asked to leave or serve out the end of their contract positions, which could lead to more exits in coming months.
The cuts are part of a larger integration of Uber’s food delivery division, Uber Eats, with Postmates. While the Postmates brand and app will remain separate, much of the behind-the-scenes infrastructure will be melded with Uber Eats and supported by Uber Eats employees. Pierre Dimitri Gore-Coty, the global head of Uber Eats, will continue running the combined food delivery business, the people said.
An Uber spokesman, Matt Kallman, confirmed the cuts. “We are so grateful for the contributions of every Postmates team member,” Mr. Kallman said. “While we are thrilled to officially welcome many of them to Uber, we are sorry to say goodbye to others. We are so excited to continue to build on top of the incredible work this remarkable team has already accomplished.”
Food delivery has been crucial to Uber as its ride-hailing business has been severely weakened by the pandemic’s effects on travel. Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s chief executive, has pointed to food delivery as a bright spot; last year, Uber Eats’ revenue overtook the revenue from the ride-hailing business for the first time as people ordered more meals delivered to their homes.
Uber, which loses money, laid off hundreds of employees in 2019 as it tried to get costs under control. The company currently has more than 21,000 full-time employees; its drivers are independent contractors.
While Uber has been strong in food delivery, it has had to fend off deep-pocketed rivals that have sought to gain market share by subsidizing delivery costs with promotions and discounts.
DoorDash, which went public in December, has rapidly expanded over the past few years and has acquired the smaller food delivery start-up Caviar. Other significant competitors include Just Eat Takeaway, which beat out Uber to acquire Grubhub last year for more than $7 billion, and Deliveroo, a delivery company that is popular in Europe.
Uber has trimmed other businesses in hopes of becoming profitable by the end of this year. In December, it shed its autonomous vehicles division, Uber ATG, and jettisoned its flying car operation, Uber Elevate. Both efforts were costly.
*By Mike Isaac, New York Times*