Ghost kitchens: This is how Travis Kalanick wants to return to the game after his departure from Uber

In 2017 Kalanick moved from Olympus of entrepreneurship to the wall of public opinion.

6 min read

This story originally appeared on High Level

Ghost kitchens: This is how Travis Kalanick wants to return to the game after his departure from Uber
Ghost kitchens: This is how Travis Kalanick wants to return to the game after his departure from Uber

While Uber is recognized worldwide as the project that changed the face of mobility forever, its co-founder, Travis Kalanick, moved from the Olympus of entrepreneurship to the wall of public opinion.

In June 2017, the creator of the concept behind Uber was forced to leave the company's general management due to a series of controversies that made a dent in the brand's prestige: fights with drivers, sexual harassment scandals inside the company, as well as records of administrative mismanagement.

In the place of Kalanick the highly respected Iranian-American Dara Khosrowshahim, former director of Expedia, was anointed, who has been responsible for taking Uber to his public offer on the New York Stock Exchange (May 2019), and who has complied with obvious efforts to forget the stage of Travis in the company.

Still at the time of becoming a public company, Kalanick was part of the Board of Directors and one of the main shareholders of the firm. However, at the end of 2019, the entrepreneur terminated his relationship with Uber by selling 90% of his shares .

“With the public company, it seems the right time to focus on my new projects and philanthropic activities,” said Kalanick, who was not invited to give the company's exit bell at the Stock Exchange.

According to various means, this conversion by the actions of the co-founder is around 2.5 billion dollars: to bear the banishment of his own empire had a reward that makes the abrupt end perfectly understandable.

Since last May, Uber shares have been reduced by 30% in value , due to the legal problems it has faced in different cities and the growing technological offer of application transport.

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Although Kalanick was separated from his position ahead of time, the truth is that today it is he who is anticipating the announced decline of the company.

But what are these new projects that Kalanick talked about at his farewell?

In March 2018, just 9 months after being separated from his position at Uber, Kalanick became CEO of a new company: City Storage Systems (CSS), a company from which he bought a majority stake for $ 150 million.

It should be noted that CSS was the first bet of 10100, the investment fund headed by Kalanick that seeks to generate new disruptive businesses in various sectors.

The bet of the noted entrepreneur would not be displayed until months later. CSS is responsible for acquiring obsolete real estate assets (from warehouses to industrial warehouses), but today the turn that Kalanick intends would be a new watershed of an industry that moves as much or more money than transportation: food.

The real estate spaces that CSS has begun to collect serve in many cases as the headquarters of the new Kalanick startup.

CloudKitchens is the precursor of the so-called “ phantom kitchens ” and works as follows: through City Storage Systems real estate spaces are acquired, which are reconditioned as kitchens . These kitchens are occupied (rented) by restaurants, which normally already have a physical headquarters and open to the public.

Cloud kitchens

Image: Cloud Kitchens

However, these CloudKitchen kitchens do not support diners, but work exclusively for home delivery applications (conventional delivery, such as Uber Eats, Rappi or SinDelantal).

What is the purpose of this? It is about food companies opening more locations without investing in the real cost of a restaurant , extending their delivery areas and saving as much as possible in aspects such as renting a place in expensive areas.

Similarly, it is an advantage for restaurants, as it opens the possibility of locating several phantom kitchens in a single venue, which allows ingredients to be shared, menus can be expanded and there could even be a staff exchange to optimize performance of each business.

According to a study conducted by the consulting firm Deloitte, in Europe the turnover of the food delivery (via digital platforms) will reach 25 billion dollars by 2023, led by United Units or to break the ceiling of 6 000 700 million then.

Thus, it is not surprising that Europe and the United States are the markets where “Ghost kitchens” grow with important projections, giving way to exclusively virtual restaurants.

In Mexico, where there are already interesting platforms for creating virtual food businesses, such as B2EAT , delivery apps are expected to reach sales of 21 billion pesos by 2021 , according to Euromonitor.

The CloudKitchen business model is replicated with CloudRetail. City Storage Systems also acquires real estate assets to be used for electronic commerce: retails could manage their products in these spaces, use them as warehouses and have distribution centers throughout the world.

Two and a half years ago, after Uber's bitter crisis, Kalanick seemed to fall into a bottomless maelstrom that would leave him out of the big leagues of 'startupism', but the resurrection confirms him as one of the great minds to do business in the digital age.

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