Uber is getting into the alcohol-delivery business by buying an alcohol-delivery business.
On Tuesday, Uber announced its plan to purchase Drizly for $1.1 billion, expanding its grip on the gig worker-powered delivery ecosystem. Drizly’s booze-focused service will eventually be integrated into the Uber Eats app, according to the company.
In a statement, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi cheered the prospect of further growing the company’s success “by exposing Drizly to the Uber audience and expanding its geographic presence into our global footprint in the years ahead.”
Drizly, founded in 2012, lets users order beer, wine, and liquor from local retailers for home delivery—what some might consider an essential service for home-bound drinkers during a deadly pandemic. It currently operates in around 1,400 cities in the U.S. and, Khosrowshahi said, saw 300% year-over-year growth. (He didn’t say when it saw that growth, so we’re assuming it’s 2020.) Alcohol sales generally—not just through Drizly—grew 7.7% in 2020, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), an industry trade group.
Uber, meanwhile, continued to bleed money throughout 2020, posting an 18% drop in revenue and more than $1 billion in losses in the third quarter of last year as the pandemic bit into its Rides business. Amid its scramble to make up those losses as people stayed home, Uber began shifting focus toward delivery services. It tried and failed to buy food delivery app Grubhub last year, but later succeeded in purchasing competitor Postmates in July for $2.65 billion. Uber also sold off its bike and scooter business, its self-driving vehicle unit, and its absurd “flying taxi” business.
So, booze it is. Considering binge drinking rose a “striking” amount during the pandemic, according to research released in September, it’s not the worst bet for Uber, even if excessive alcohol consumption isn’t a great plan for the rest of us.