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Uber Hires Google’s Same-Day Delivery Boss

The move is another signal that Uber has every intention of expanding into delivery services in a serious way.

Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

Tom Fallows, head of the Google Express same-day delivery service, is leaving for a job at Uber, multiple sources told Re/code.

Google confirmed Fallows’s departure.

“It’s been awesome to help this team build Google Express from just a concept to a national service with paying members and dozens of merchant partners,” Fallows said in a statement provided by Google. “Even though the next stage of my career takes me outside Google, I’m really excited to watch Google Express continue to thrive and expand.”

Fallows’s boss Sameer Samat, who is vice president of Google Shopping, thanked Fallows for his “great work,” adding that “Google Express has become a real hit that people tell us they love.”

The move marks a surprising turn of events for both companies. Inside Google, Fallows had been the biggest champion of the Google Express project, after coming up with the idea years ago and then pitching it to management, securing what a source previously told Re/code was up to a $500 million budget. Google hasn’t yet named a replacement for Fallows.

Google Express is an important project inside the search giant aimed at combating Amazon’s increasing success at becoming the starting place for online product searches — a valuable category of searches that Google once owned. Google’s service is in effect a competitor to Amazon’s Prime two-day shipping program; customers pay Google $95 a year to get unlimited same-day deliveries of products they order from an array of partnering retailers that include Target, Walgreens and Costco. The program is also seen as a way for Google to help prove to its advertisers that people who see their ads are actually buying their products.

The move is also another signal that Uber is interested in expanding into delivery services. The car-hailing service has already started dabbling in the field, with a messenger service in New York City; a household goods delivery experiment in Washington, D.C.; and a food-delivery test in Southern California.

After the company announced its massive $1.2 billion investment round in June, CEO Travis Kalanick acknowledged Uber’s potential in delivery but said it was still early days for such initiatives.

“The business as it is, the current growth, that is what was funded,” he told Bloomberg Businessweek in June. “The logistics, or moving things as well as people, is icing on the cake. We are doing experiments right now. It’s too early to know how it all works out.”

Fallows joined Google when the company acquired his business Mercantila. His co-founder, Jonathan Kibera, left Google this past summer to join AngelList. It’s not clear what role Fallows is taking with Uber, or if he has signed a non-compete clause with Google that would prevent him from working on a delivery business for Uber. But, at a minimum, he has the kind of experience that could make him a valuable adviser inside the fast-growing transportation company.

Uber’s poaching of Fallows is also intriguing because Google is a major Uber investor. Of course, Kalanick is not someone who cares especially about stepping on toes.

Additional reporting by Liz Gannes.

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