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Uber wants to be 'the Amazon of transportation'

The ride-hailing service rolls out Mode Switch to toggle between car, bike and scooter rides.

screen-shot-2018-09-06-at-11-38-10-am

Uber adds a new feature called Mode Switch to its home screen.

Uber

When Uber first started, it was all about hailing a car with a phone. Now people can also get food delivery or a bicycle on demand in many cities. Soon, Uber plans to throw scooters in the mix and, eventually, self-driving cars too.

Turns out, this is by design.

"We want to be the Amazon of transportation," Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said during the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco on Thursday. "Our core business will be getting you from point A to point B."

To help this effort, the company launched a new feature Thursday called Mode Switch. It's an in-app tool that lets people see what modes of transportation the company offers in that location: cars, bikes or scooters. From there, riders can select what mode they want to use.

Uber has steadily grown over the years to expand its footprint. It's now in more than 600 cities worldwide and has reeled in $14.9 billion in funding, which is more investment dollars than any other private startup in the world. However, it's still struggling to turn a profit.

Khosrowshahi said Thursday that Uber is on track to go public in 2019. But to do that, the company needs to prove to investors it can make money. It also has to show it can compete with rivals, like Lyft, which beat Uber in launching its own rentable dockless scooters first.

Ramping up the kinds of transportation services Uber offers around the world and having them all be on one platform will help, Khosrowshahi said. He added that he expects the company to have "extraordinary" growth in the next few years and in 10 years he hopes no one will own their own car.

Uber acquired dockless bicycle rental company Jump in April and has already introduced the bikes to nearly 10 US cities. It also partnered with on-demand car rental service Getaround in April with a new product called Uber Rent that lets people use the Uber app to rent Getaround's cars. And in July, Uber said it was investing in Lime scooters with plans to also offer the rentable vehicles through the Uber app. 

"We've made a big bet as a company to move beyond ride sharing," Khosrowshahi wrote in a blog post Thursday. "Our aim is to become a one-stop shop for all your transportation and delivery needs, so that your phone can replace your personal car."

First published Sept. 6, 12:03 p.m. PT.
Updates, 1:12 p.m.: Includes additional background information; 4:41 p.m.: Adds background.

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