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Uber tests new on-demand labor service

Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Uber drivers could soon do more than shuttle passengers or food orders in their cars. The company is quietly testing a new service, Uber Works, for on-demand labor for businesses, according to the Financial Times.

The bottom line: After driving and food delivery, Uber wants to see if it can harness its massive labor pool for other purposes. It could also burnish its image with new lines of business as it prepares to go public likely next year.

  • Yes, but: Not all of Uber's seemingly natural new projects have worked out — it shuttered its e-commerce delivery service, for example.

Details: Uber has been testing the new project in Chicago, after a brief experiment in Los Angeles, according to the FT.

  • It’s pitching the service as short-term staffing and labor for other businesses, such as waiters for events.
  • The tests so far have not involved current Uber drivers, according to the report, which also notes that it could end up not being a full-fledged business.

Déjà vu: Uber is far from the first company to think of offering on-demand labor to other businesses.

  • For example, TaskRabbit offered a similar service years ago, which at one point accounted for 40% of its revenue, but eventually shifted its business customers to its main service.
  • Exec also aimed to provide on-demand help with errands and tasks to businesses, but sold that segment to rival Handy just 2 years later, reportedly for $10 million.   
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