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Uber same-day delivery on the way? Hire may be a clue

Uber's latest hire -- the head of Google's same-day shopping service -- could help CEO Travis Kalanick realize his dream of delivering just about anything.

Donna Tam Staff Writer / News
Donna Tam covers Amazon and other fun stuff for CNET News. She is a San Francisco native who enjoys feasting, merrymaking, checking her Gmail and reading her Kindle.
Donna Tam
2 min read

Uber may be getting serious about a same-day delivery service. Uber

Uber may soon have its drivers delivering purchased goods as well as passengers.

The on-demand car service, which lets users hail a ride through its mobile app, hired away Tom Fallows, the head of Google's same-day delivery service Google Express, Recode first reported Friday. Google confirmed the departure to CNET and provided a statement from Fallows.

"Even though the next stage of my career takes me outside Google, I'm really excited to watch Google Express continue to thrive and expand," he said in the statement.

The new gig may mean Uber is getting serious about launching a same-day delivery service.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has made his delivery goals clear in the past: he's servicing a society that values instant gratification and that means near-instant delivery.

"Today, we are in the business of delivering cars in five minutes," he said at the LeWeb conference last year. "Once you're in the business of delivering cars in five minutes, there are a lot of things you can deliver in five minutes."

When asked if Fallow's hire will lead to a same-delivery service in the near future, an Uber spokeswoman told CNET News the company had no details to share.

It's unclear what this means for Google's fledgling delivery fleet, which is positioned to go toe-to-toe with e-commerce giant Amazon's own speedy delivery services.

Google Vice President of Shopping Sameer Samat said the delivery service has "become a real hit" with customers.

"We're excited to continue building upon the early success here," he said in a statement.

Uber's and Google's investments in same-day delivery reflects an increasingly competitive and complex landscape for online shopping. While Amazon remains at the head of the e-commerce pack, Google -- which also sees Amazon as a top search competitor -- has been trying to figure out how to lure away consumers. Google Express is one of those efforts.

While it may seem strange for a car service startup to deliver products, Uber would not be the only company interested. Amazon is rumored to be in talks with taxi-hailing app Flywheel to make deliveries, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

Uber has long experimented with same-day delivery for a variety of goods. Uber has used its service to deliver Valentine's Day roses, Christmas trees, adoptable kittens, ice cream and even sky writing -- just to name a few marketing stunts.

The company is seeking a new round of funding of close to $1 billion, according to a couple of news reports Friday citing anonymous sources.

Updated, 4:14 p.m. PT: Added statements from Google.