Uber Officially Enters Trucking Business

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Dayton Daily News

May 22, 2017

Uber Freight is a new app that connects professional truckers with those looking to move goods.

Uber is getting into the trucking game.

The embattled ride-hailing company announced Thursday that it is launching Uber Freight, an app that connects professional truck drivers with shippers looking to transport big loads over long distances.

“We’ve been in stealth since late last year, moving loads in Texas and a few other places,” said Eric Berdinis, senior product manager for Uber Freight. “Uber pioneered the notion of ‘press a button, get a car,’ and now we want to create ‘press a button, get a load.’”

This trucking middleman role, which has largely involved a cumbersome scheduling process anchored to phone calls, is being targeted for a technological overhaul by other companies that promise to bring efficiency and reliability to the matchmaking task.

But where start-ups such as Ghostruck target consumers, Uber Freight is appealing to the nation’s massive professional trucking industry.

That’s a space Amazon also is rumored to be getting into as a way to help reduce massive shipping costs. Other start-ups looking to supplant the old-school dispatcher include Convoy, Cargomatic and Trucker Path.

“We take the guesswork out of finding and booking freight, which is often the most stressful part of a driver’s day,” Uber said in a Medium blog post.

Uber Freight represents another offshoot of the company’s business model, which also includes food delivery service UberEats and Uber for Business. A recent Uber Elevate conference in Dallas focused on the company’s vision for a fleet of flying cars.

The new venture also demonstrates how the world’s most valuable, if controversial, start-up continues to push ahead into new business territories despite its internal and legal woes.

Uber Freight launches as the company and its CEO, Travis Kalanick, prepare to release the results of an internal investigation launched on the heels of a former employee’s description of a sexist and ultra-aggressive workplace. Kalanick is also on the hunt for a chief operating officer to help him run Uber.

Also on Kalanick’s plate is a lawsuit over self-driving car trade secrets from Google’s self-driving car company, Waymo.

Uber Freight is another instance of Uber jumping into a market where it estimates its technology and analytics can usurp the status quo. It remains to be seen if the nation’s truckers will take to an app-based way of conducting business. But Uber is banking on the simplified process winning over users.

“What used to take several hours and multiple phone calls can now be achieved with the touch of a button,” Uber wrote. “We send a rate confirmation within seconds, eliminating a common anxiety in trucking about whether or not the load is really confirmed.”

Those perks ultimately could lead to what Uber hopes will be the big draw: quicker payments.

Where truckers often can wait weeks for payment, Uber is “committed to paying within a few days, fee-free, for every single load.”

Original headline: Uber Officially Enters Trucking Business; Vision to Streamline Industry: ‘Press a Button, Get a Load’

Copyright 2017 Dayton Newspapers, Inc.

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