Amazon to Invest in Deliveroo, a Rival to Uber in Food Delivery

LONDON — Amazon is taking a big step into the international restaurant delivery business — and taking a shot at one of Uber’s most promising markets in the process.

The e-commerce giant said on Friday that it would lead a $575 million investment in Deliveroo, becoming one of the London-based start-up’s biggest backers.

The cash infusion will strengthen one of the largest international rivals to Uber’s meal-delivery division, UberEats, which the ride-hailing company has identified as one of its most promising businesses.

Including the new investment round, which also involved existing backers like T. Rowe Price and Fidelity, Deliveroo has now raised $1.53 billion.

The start-up, which was founded in 2013, has become a familiar sight in London, Paris and other cities, with couriers zipping along streets ferrying customer orders. Though the company began as a restaurant delivery business — it now serves 80,000 establishments — it has also been setting up its own stand-alone kitchens, an increasingly popular business model.

Deliveroo has expanded beyond Britain to 13 other markets, including Australia, France, Hong Kong and Kuwait.

The Deliveroo investment offers Amazon another path into restaurant delivery, after it gave up its own such service in Britain in December. The service, which is running in several cities in the United States, was available to Amazon Prime subscribers in parts of London but did not make much of a dent in the face of competition from Deliveroo, UberEats and Just Eat.

“We’re impressed with Deliveroo’s approach, and their dedication to providing customers with an ever increasing selection of great restaurants along with convenient delivery options,” Doug Gurr, who manages Amazon’s British operations, said in a statement. “We’re excited to see what they do next.”

With the new capital, Deliveroo plans to hire more programmers and offer more incentives to restaurants and couriers.

“Amazon has been an inspiration to me personally and to the company,” Will Shu, Deliveroo’s founder and chief executive, said in a statement. “We look forward to working with such a customer-obsessed organization.”

The bet will put even more pressure on Uber, whose public-market debut last week was dented in part because of concerns that its once-meteoric growth rate was slowing down. (Other food-delivery businesses took a hit as well: Shares in Just Eat were down more than 8 percent in trading in London on Friday, at 622 pence.)

Privately, Uber has identified growing competition to UberEats as one of the reasons its growth has declined, The New York Times reported this week. Cash injections in rivals like DoorDash in the United States and Rappi in Latin America have forced Uber to spend more on UberEats to shore up its market position, denting its growth.

Uber announced this year that it would cut its food-delivery fees in Britain and Ireland, in response to competition from Deliveroo and Just Eat.

Uber had held discussions to buy Deliveroo last year, according to news reports, but the two sides reportedly were far apart on price.

The challenge from Amazon holds an additional sting for Uber: The ride-hailing company repeatedly pitched itself to prospective investors in its initial public offering this month as the Amazon for transportation.

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