Uber has switched their future in self-driving cars and instead joins Big Alcohol through a massive investment in alcohol on demand delivery. Uber announced it is acquiring alcohol delivery startup Drizly for $1.1 billion in stock and cash. Once completed the deal will result in Drizly being integrated to UberEats and remaining as a stand alone app.
The news comes amidst rising complaints that alcohol delivery apps are increasing problems such as delivering alcohol to underage teens and people who are already intoxicated. These problems have been seen across the word such as in California, USA, Australia and UK. It is fairly easy to bypass age verification on apps and there is a lack of age verification upon delivery. For example an ABC investigation found on-demand alcohol delivery apps illegally delivered alcohol to minors about four out of every five deliveries or 80% of the time.
Making matters worse, alcohol policy solutions in most countries are not (yet) geared towards on-demand alcohol delivery. This means the fast growing sector is unregulated and largely left to self-governing – leaving free range for companies like Uber to push alcohol as aggressively as possible on the people.
This Uber pivot and push into Big Alcohol shows that alcohol remains a highly profitable industry for private interests to pursue profit maximization to the detriment of people and communities affected.
Uber already has a deeply troubling impact on communities concerning alcohol harm: studies found that since the advent of Uber and ride-sharing in the United States, people have started to engage in more binge alcohol consumption. The trend is fueling already high levels of alcohol harm.