Uber appears to be jumping deeper into the gig economy.
The company has reportedly been testing an expansion to its business model that'll go beyond on-demand cars, bikes and scooters for hire. It's been piloting a program called Uber Works that'll supply on-demand temporary contract workers -- like waiters and security guards -- for events, according to the Financial Times.
Uber has reportedly been working on the project for the past several months in Chicago and previously experimented with it in Los Angeles, according to the Financial Times. It'd operate as its own venture, similar to Uber's food delivery service, Uber Eats, and its self-driving car business, Uber Advanced Technologies Group.
The news comes as the ride-hailing company is ramping up for an initial public offering, which is likely to happen in 2019. While Uber is the world's highest-valued private company with a valuation of $72 billion, it's yet to turn a profit. The company is likely under pressure to show shareholders it can have a broader and more flexible business model.
Uber's ride-hailing business relies on contractors, aka gig workers, to be its drivers. But that hasn't been entirely smooth for the company. Uber has been sued by hundreds of drivers who say they want to be classified as employees, rather than independent contractors.
These drivers say the classification is unfair because it lets Uber off the hook for costs such as employee benefits, overtime and insurance. Drivers regularly protest the company, demanding better pay to help them shoulder these expenses. Uber Works could run into these same issues if it depends on a similar contractor model.
Uber declined to comment on Uber Works.
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