Uber To Launch Startup For Postmates X Robot

Uber is seeking investors so it can launch a separate startup for the robotics division of Postmates, Postmates X, TechCrunch reported on Friday (Jan. 15), citing sources.

Temporarily coined Serve Robotics — named for Postmates X’s delivery bot — the autonomous sidewalk robot will likely be the nucleus of the new startup. Uber plans to keep a 25 percent stake in the new company and enter into a commercial agreement with the startup, according to the source.

The new entity would be led by Ali Kashani, head of Postmates X and the Serve program. Anthony Armenta would head the startup’s software unit and Aaron Leiba would lead hardware — the same roles they have at Postmates X.

Uber closed a $2.65 billion acquisition deal for Postmates in December of 2020. Serve Robotics is not a legal company yet, but serverobotics.com was registered on Jan. 6, TechCrunch noted.

With an eye on profitability, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi started streamlining the business, selling off extraneous divisions like micro-mobility and logistics, and futuristic bets like autonomous vehicles and air taxis. In 2020, Uber sold its bike unit Jump, unloaded a $500 million stake in Uber Freight and parted ways with its autonomous vehicle unit Uber ATG and its air taxi division Uber Elevate.

Postmates started trialing sidewalk delivery bots in 2017 and launched Serve in December 2018, with a commercial rollout planned in Los Angeles. It’s now commercially operating in both Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Uber acquired Postmates to help Uber Eats scale in U.S. food delivery, boosting its market share from 29 percent to 37 percent. Uber’s rideshare business plunged over 80 percent amid the pandemic. The company’s quest to scoop up Postmates was cleared by the Department of Justice in November. Uber had originally tried to acquire delivery platform Grubhub, but the deal sputtered over antitrust concerns.  

Instead, Grubhub is being acquired for $7.3 billion by Just Eat Takeaway.com, an $11.1 billion merger of the U.K.’s Just Eat and Netherlands-based Takeaway.com.

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