Uber’s long-term plan is to become a platform for third-party companies, providing logistics’ answer to Amazon Web Services (AWS), according to the company’s CTO Thuan Pham.
Speaking today at a keynote at RISE in Hong Kong, the largest technology conference in Asia, Pham said that while the idea was a long-way off, it was the ultimately Uber’s goal.
“We think of our own platform as our own AWS to power our own businesses, and ultimately we’re thinking that someday, well into the future, we can perhaps enable other businesses to be built on top of our platform by other third-party vendors,” he said.
“The fraud-detection capabilities and the mapping capabilities and routing capabilities – all those things, we don’t see why we can’t ultimately offer that to other people to build on top of it.”
However, he stressed that this was by no means an immediate plan, and that the company had considerable work to do to expand its own businesses before it could enact the idea.
“In the type of labour-on-demand industry like this we aspire to be like that someday, but this is only a glimmer in our eyes,” he said.
“We have multiple business lines that are very substantial that we have to build for ourselves right at the moment.”
From ride-sharing to logistics platform: Uber’s answer to AWS
While the company began as simple a ride-sharing provider, it has expanded into a number of other verticals, including Uber Eats, its restaurant delivery service and Uber Freight, its entry into the trucking industry, which expanded into Europe in March of this year.
According to Pham, while each of these verticals provides a very different offering, the majority of the underlying operational capabilities are the same, prompting the company to develop its technologies into several generic platforms that can be quickly reapplied to new ventures.
“We started out building specifically for ride-sharing but as all engineers do, what we do is we abstract things, things that are commonly used we sediment into a platform, we call it the technology platform,” he said.
“So we have platforms such as mapping, logistics marketplace, routing; we have payment infrastructure that actually bills someone and pays someone, so all those things we build in more and more generic ways so that we can deploy them very rapidly to service our new lines of businesses.”
This platform approach, he said, would ultimately make it possible to easily extend such capabilities to other companies.
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“From our finance, our tax, accounting, to operations, to engineering, everything basically is setup to service multiple lines of business,” he said.
“And now everytime we setup a new line of business it gets easier and easier to do it faster than other players in that space because we can leverage that capability.”