15th February 2019
Travis Kalanick has secretly ramped up his first big venture after being oust as head of Uber, headhunting his old company for staff as part of a multimillion-dollar plan to build a worldwide network of food delivery kitchens.
The billionaire co-founder of Uber is applying some of the same tactics for supercharging growth he used at the online taxi-hailing startup – including recruiting several of his first hires – at his new venture, CloudKitchens.
Kalanick acquired a controlling stake in City Storage Solutions, the Los Angeles-based parent of CloudKitchens, for $150m last March through his investment fund, 10100, which he had recently set up using the proceeds of a $1.4bn Uber stock sale.
Kalanick was removed from Uber in mid-2017, and his new project has been kept largely secret since the acquisition. Several people with direct knowledge of his plans said Kalanick is now looking to expand its US-based operations into Asia and Europe. He visited London last year and CloudKitchens recruiters have been approaching people with operations experience in London about a potential launch in recent months.
Kalanick, who had an early insight into UberEats’ explosive growth during his tenure as chief executive, is offering extra capacity to restaurants and chefs whose existing kitchens are straining under the new demand for food delivery, or helping them to broaden their reach in a given city. CloudKitchens buys or leases real estate, often distressed or in less popular areas, which it fits out with kitchen equipment. The company also develops software to help restaurateurs manage their back-office systems and integrate with the food delivery platforms.
The company’s website advertises several “delivery only” restaurants that are already using its services in Los Angeles to prepare deliveries of pizza, salad and ice cream.