- Uber has 8 million global subscribers for its subscription services compared to more than 10 million for DoorDash.
- Uber employees debated for years whether to build a subscription business, which delayed its launch.
- CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has taken on a more involved role at UberOne recently.
At Uber’s product showcase on Monday, the company hired comedian Ilana Glazer to introduce new features like trip planning, party bus booking and food ordering at baseball games, all through the Uber app. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi closed the show by personally introducing his Uber One subscription service, which the company hopes will unite all these new services under one membership.
But internal figures show that Uber is falling behind competitor DoorDash when it comes to signing up subscribers. The company has about 8 million global subscribers for its list of subscription services, according to a person familiar with the figure. DoorDash recently revealed that it has more than 10 million subscribers.
That’s a huge underperformance for Uber given that DoorDash’s membership program, DashPass, only offers discounted food delivery. Uber One combines benefits for meal and ride delivery, as well as a handful of new services. Additionally, most of DoorDash’s customers are in the US, while Uber is the largest transportation and delivery service globally.
Several insiders at Uber attribute their slow adoption in creating a subscription service to company politics and a lack of direction from CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. Although employees have discussed and tested the idea of an Uber subscription for both rides and deliveries for years, DoorDash beat them to it by implementing Dashpass in 2017. Uber was quick to launch its
membership service a year later.
But the company’s biggest proposal, combining Eats and Rides into a single plan, was a five-year process, several current and former employees said. Some executives argued at the time that it would be too costly to launch such a plan, especially when the Eats business was a fraction of the size of the mobility business, according to a person familiar with the matter. These two lines of business were leveled on a level playing field during the pandemic as UberEats took off as mobility struggled.
Others said that Uber could have been bolder in its strategy and taken the lead. They blame Khosrowshahi for failing to guide the process through domestic politics, despite having personally expressed his support for subscriptions in the past.
Lately, Khosrowshahi has taken on a more hands-on role at Uber One to avoid these issues, according to a person familiar with the matter. That was evident at Uber’s product display.
The stock market has been punishing tech stocks in recent months, particularly companies like Uber that are unprofitable.
Since the beginning of April, Uber shares are down 34%. Last week, Khosrowshahi sent a memo to employees telling them the company was working to speed up its plans to start producing cash as a business. That puts pressure on products like Uber One, which holds the promise of growing Uber’s business while keeping loyal customers with less to their bottom line than expensive discounts.
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