Two of Uber’s most popular services are joining forces as the company races toward an IPO

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Two of Uber’s most popular services are joining forces as the company races toward an IPO

uber ceo dara khosrowshahiUber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

  • Uber for Business is expanding to include Uber Eats, the company announced Thursday, 
  • Workers whose companies use the Uber for Business platform for rides, can now expense meals as well. 
  • The combined platform could be key to Uber's eventual IPO, as it seeks to lock in regular and diverse revenue streams. 

Uber Eats is growing like crazy.

Because the ride-hailing giant noticed its food delivery platform was so popular among customers who were expensing meals to their employer, the program is being added to the already up-and running Uber for Business program, meaning customers can now directly expense both food and Uber trips, the company announced Thursday.

"It’s a very obvious extension for Eats and Uber for Business," Ronnie Gurion, the general manager of Uber for Business, said in an interview with Business Insider. In the less than 3 years since Uber Eats launched, customers are expensing hundreds of thousands of meals annually, according to internal data from payroll provider SAP Concur, with a year-over-year increase of more than seven-fold.

The program integrates directly with Uber for Business’ dashboard, which allows managers and HR employees insight into employee spending with Uber — everything from centralized billing, to expense codes, time limitations, and more. When an employee orders food outside the allotted time — say, before a company allows workers to order dinner on a late shift — the app will warn the customer.

Uber Eats for BusinessA promo photo from Uber shows both Eats and rides in the dashboard for employers.Uber

This could also help avoid scandals like that of Wells Fargo earlier this year, in which the bank found employees were grossly abusing its meal expense policies by falsifying receipts, which led to terminations and bonus reductions. 

And while Uber has yet to disclose any revenue or profit breakdown from either of the units, they could be key players as the company races towards an initial public offering, which could come as soon as next year. Locking in enterprise clients to its internal Uber for Business dashboard ensures a consistent revenue stream, with Eats offering diversity to the ride-hailing foundation, could be key.

Read more: Uber raised $2 billion in its first-ever bond-offering — and the entire deal was done in near secrecy

Jackie Kelley, Americas IPO Markets Leader for the consulting firm EY, says this is key for many technology companies as they transition from private to public markets.

"It's important that technology companies have scalable platforms," she told Business Insider in an interview. "In certain sectors of technology, one revenue source may not be enough diversity. A big focus for companies today is recurring revenue, not just a one-hit wonder."

The program could extend beyond rides and meals, too, the Uber executives seemed to hint.

"We're still very early in this journey," Stephen Chau, the head of product for Uber Eats, said in the interview, with Gurion adding that this is a "starting point for how we can expand beyond the core rides business."

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