- REUTERS/Neil Hall
- Jambu Palaniappan joined Uber in 2012 and he’s held a number of executive level positions.
- He has helped to expand Uber’s food delivery service to 200 cities worldwide.
- Palaniappan is the latest Uber exec to leave the company.
Jambu Palaniappan, the head of Uber’s fast-growing food delivery business in Europe, is leaving to become a venture capitalist, according to an internal memo seen by Business Insider.
Palaniappan has been with Uber since 2012 and held a number of high-level positions. He is the latest executive to leave the company, which is going through a turbulent period.
“After more than 5 years leading Uber and UberEats businesses in all corners of the globe, Jambu Palaniappan has decided to embark on a new adventure to pursue his passion working with the startup community at a leading European venture capital firm,” the internal company update reads.
The memo was written by VP of Uber Everything Jason Droege and circulated around the company on Thursday.
It’s not clear which VC firm Palaniappan is joining but it will be in London. Palaniappan is currently based in Amsterdam, according to his LinkedIn page.
Palaniappan joined Uber in July 2012 to help the company launch its taxi service in countries outside the US.
In June 2013, he was appointed to lead Uber’s expansion in EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa) and India. He became Uber’s regional manager in EMEA in February 2014 and, in July 2016, he was appointed to lead Uber’s food delivery business, UberEats, in EMEA. At the time, UberEats was operational in a small number of cities.
Today UberEats partners with over 14,000 restaurants in 30 countries and 200 cities around the world. The company is on target to do $3 billion (£2 billion) in sales in 2017, according to a report in The Financial Times in October.
“Despite operating in a highly competitive region, Jambu and his team have built a business that continues to grow,” the memo reads. “We’re seeing extraordinary growth (even by our standards) in the region. Since Jambu joined mid-2016, EMEA Eats has grown 18x.”
Uber has had a tough year. There are the accusations of corporate sexism. The video of its founder angrily berating a driver. Secret “Greyball” software designed to evade authorities. Executives obtaining the medical records of a rape victim. Lawsuits around the world. The resignation of CEO Travis Kalanick. The company also lost its operating licence in London.
But UberEats has managed to stay out of the limelight, with the exception of some protests by couriers who feel they don’t get paid enough.
How Uber’s food delivery business works
Uber’s food delivery operation is underpinned by Uber’s existing army of 2 million drivers, which can deliver food as well as passengers in some markets, as well as dedicated UberEats courier fleets.
Each UberEats sale includes the cost of the food and the delivery fee, meaning the average UberEats order is more expensive than the average Uber taxi ride.
But UberEats is unprofitable in most of the markets it operates in, with only 27 cities currently profitable in October.
There’s also fierce competition in the delivery market.
UberEats goes head-to-head with the likes of GrubHub in the US and Deliveroo in the UK. Amazon has also launched its own restaurant food delivery service called Amazon Restaurants, which is available to Prime members, while Facebook launched a food delivery service in the US last month.
Palaniappan shared the following message with his team on Thursday.
As I’ve just shared in our all hands meeting this morning, after five incredible years at Uber it’s time for me to start a new journey. I’m so grateful for the experience, thankful to you all for your contributions, and proud of what we’ve achieved over the last five years in both the Rides and Eats business across EMEA. Working with you all at Uber has been one of the great privileges of my life.
When I joined this company in 2012, Uber was just a small startup with 75 employees focused primarily on the US. I was living in San Francisco, and was excited about the prospect of helping a company scale globally. I packed up my flat in 24 hours, and was fortunate to begin a journey that took me to 35 countries around the world over the next several years.
I will always have fond memories of the many milestones that we’ve achieved together: my first role as a launcher and launch manager included starting Uber in my parents’ hometown in India, as Regional General Manager for Eastern Europe, the Middle East & Africa we brought accessible transportation to some of Uber’s fastest growing cities globally, and we started and scaled UberEATS across EMEA.
While I learned so much about how dynamic and unique cities and countries around the world are, I also learned that technology can be a powerful equaliser, bringing mobility opportunities and economic empowerment from Johannesburg to Cairo to Lahore, and magical food delivery experiences from London to Warsaw and beyond.
Over the last few months, I’ve had an opportunity to think about my interests and where I’d like to focus in the future. I like building new businesses and companies, and have been offered an opportunity to do more of that. Leaving Uber was an extremely difficult decision, but I’m excited about the prospect of pursuing my passions of supporting early stage businesses working with a venture capital firm in London.
More than anything, I will truly miss working with you all. Your passion, effort, commitment and resolve has motivated and inspired me since day one. If I can ever be helpful to any of you in your professional or personal journeys, I would be happy to do so.
Thanks for your faith in me, and your commitment to Uber; I will be forever grateful.