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In a December 1, 2020 blog post, Stephane Ficaja, head of Uber Eats US and Canada, gave a hopeful message about the future of food delivery as Uber closed its purchase of third-party delivery rival, Postmates.
With Uber’s food delivery division, Uber Eats, combining with Postmates, the two operators can move forward and come “together as one company,” wrote Ficaja, who took over the Uber Eats position after Janelle Sallenave left in late August.
Less than three months later, the partnership between Postmates and Uber Eats has turned rocky.
In late January, Uber, the parent company of Uber Eats, cut roughly 15% of the Postmates’ workforce. The cuts were first reported by the New York Times. While he wasn’t laid off, Postmates founder Bastian Lehmann also announced his departure.
Read more: DoorDash CFO Prabir Adarkar reveals plans to boost profits after company’s mixed first earnings
A couple of weeks later in early March, Ficaja left Uber Eats. Ficaja was previously Uber Eats’ regional manager for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. He was running the company’s US delivery unit from Paris, where he was living and working remotely due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Ficaja’s successor is Sarfraz Maredia, the third person to hold the crucial position since late summer.
“We’re grateful to Stephane for stepping up to work on the US & Canada delivery business during a critical six months,” an Uber spokesperson told Insider in a statement. “As we look to the future – and as our delivery products continue to expand beyond prepared food with expansion into new verticals and other acquisitions – we’re thrilled to have Sarfraz, a tested leader with a strong track record in the US market, step up into this important role.”
The downsizing after the Postmates acquisition goes beyond employees.
Earlier this month, Uber said it is spinning off Postmates’ robotics division, which has been testing autonomous rovers in Los Angeles for a couple of years.
It is now an independent company called Serve Robotics. The robots specialize in navigating sidewalks. Uber is an investor in the new startup, along with venture firm Neo.
The changes at Uber come at a crucial time. The company’s core ride-hailing business has been crippled by the lack of commuters and travelers needing their services. As such, its food-delivery arm, Uber Eats, has thrived as more consumers have relied on delivery during the pandemic.
The Uber Eats segment is now bringing in more revenue than rides for the third straight quarter.
That’s where Maredia comes in. He previously worked in Uber’s ride-hailing division – specifically in charge of running one of Uber’s most important markets, New York City.
According to a 2018 New York Times article, Maredia was brought into the key market to be part of a “global rebranding effort to create a kinder Uber after an onslaught of negative headlines.”
“We’re trying to build a successful, sustainable business and build a company we can be proud of, not next year or the year after, but for many years down the road,” Maredia told the Times in 2018.
It remains to be seen how he’ll tackle the Uber Eats division as it faces fierce competition.
Grubhub is expected to close its merger with the European giant Just Eat Takeaway in the coming weeks.
And, DoorDash, the US market leader in food delivery, is expanding its services beyond restaurant delivery. The company is partnering with a legion of national chains like Walmart and CVS to deliver groceries and drugstore goods.
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