May 15, 2024 - Economy

Uber is getting more social

photo of a male executive walking across a stage with a colorful screen behind him with the words "Go," and "Get"

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and company leaders unveil the latest products in New York. Photo: Hope King/Axios

Uber is becoming a more social app.

Why it matters: With 149 million monthly active customers on its platforms, the company has enough scale to spark new sources of growth by connecting users to one another.

  • And at a time when consumers are becoming increasingly cost-conscious, sharing can help people save money while keeping Uber's user numbers up.

Driving the news: CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and Uber product managers unveiled a slate of new features for the Uber and Uber Eats apps during an event Wednesday morning in New York.

  • Many of the features — such as Uber Shuttle, the ability to schedule shared rides, perform caregiving tasks, and share restaurant recommendation lists — rely on customer-to-customer interactions.

Zoom in: Unlike individual rides reserved in advance, scheduling shared rides will always bring the cost of trips down, Uber executives tell Axios.

  • And through Uber Shuttle, which the company will commission and brand through existing enterprise fleets, group trips to and from hotels to conference centers or busy event venues can help customers avoid individual surge pricing.

My thought bubble: Though the company didn't mention cost savings as a benefit of Uber Eats lists, anyone who's taken a chance on a restaurant or dish and later regretted it can imagine how much time and money can be saved with trusted recommendations.

The big picture: Khosrowshahi told investors last year that the company expects UberX Share to become "our newest billion-dollar gross bookings product in the coming quarters," per Axios' Joann Muller.

The intrigue: Uber's caregiving features reflect a growing trend of companies becoming more focused on servicing an aging population.

  • With Uber Caregiver, family members and others will have information about their loved one's healthcare benefits and use insurance to cover costs directly inside the Uber and Uber Eats apps.

What we're watching: Consumer spending in the U.S. has been slowing this year in many areas — but not travel.

  • "It's not one story for the consumer — [which] creates a lot of complications in the narrative," Michelle Meyer, chief U.S. economist at Mastercard Economics Institute, told CNBC.
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