Uber’s next experiment has been hiding in Chicago. Calling itself “Pronto,” an “on-demand restaurant and hospitality staffing startup,” Uber has been advertising on LinkedIn for Windy City applicants for a new business that matches part-time workers with various businesses, according to a person with knowledge of the effort. For now, the Uber service is not related to Uber’s core business of driving people and food around. That core business has had a chronic problem with churn, as drivers fall into and out of the job. Perhaps “Uber Works,” as the new effort is called, gives Uber another way to take do business with its long roster of inactive drivers.
The Financial Times first reported on the skunkworks project, which is part of a group at Uber called “new modalities” under longtime exec Rachel Holt. It isn’t clear how much Uber’s experience with marketplaces will help in the staffing industry, and the effort could revive criticism that Uber is not focused on creating steady jobs. Given the continued questions about its financial losses heading into an IPO next year, adding one more growing business to Uber’s arsenal might not hurt. For now, this is just a test.