Uber Freight snags Airbnb, Box veterans as it eyes global expansion

Uber Freight, which helps truck drivers connect with shipping companies, has made two high-profile hires this month as it continues to scale up its app and plans for a global expansion.

The company has hired Andrew Smith, one of Box’s early employees, to head up global sales at Uber Freight, and Bar Ifrach, formerly of Airbnb, to lead its marketplace team, TechCrunch has learned.

Smith had a 10-year run at Box, where he was most recently vice president of field and commercial sales for North America. Ifrach has moved up the ranks at Airbnb during his 5-year tenure, starting as a data scientist and eventually becoming director of data science for Airbnb Homes. Ifrach oversaw the data science development of Airbnb marketplace features such as matching, instant book, pricing, and monetization.

The pair started at Uber Freight this month, TechCrunch has learned. Both report directly to Lior Ron, who returned last summer. Ron was one of the co-founders of autonomous trucking company Otto, which Uber acquired in 2016. He left the company following Waymo’s trade secrets lawsuit against Uber.

As head of marketplace, Ifrach is going to build out and improve the app’s pricing infrastructure as well as how it matches drivers and loads, Uber Freight confirmed. Meanwhile, Smith will be focused on building out the company’s sales team and shaping its go-to-market strategy.

Uber Freight, which spun out of Uber to become its own business unit in 2018, has offices in San Francisco and Chicago. The company has been scaling up its business since launching in May 2017, growing from limited regional operations in Texas to the rest of the continental United States.

Uber Freight has bigger expansion plans for 2019. The company plans to more than double its staff this year and is eyeing international markets. The company doesn’t disclose employee numbers. However, insiders target the number at “hundreds.” Uber Freight already has a dedicated team looking into international markets, the company confirmed.

Uber Freight has been building out features in its app as it expands to other markets and tries to lure more users. For example, the company recently added a facility ratings feature that allows drivers to rate facilities on a scale of 1 to 5. There’s also an option to leave a written review. The facilities rating aims to help drivers decide whether to book a load.

These amenities – stuff like parking, bathrooms, and load wait time, are more critical than outsiders might realize. A survey of 150 trucking companies in 2018 found that 80 percent of carrier respondents refused to take loads from facilities for reasons that included inflexible appointment hours and lengthy detention times. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates detention times cost truckers a total of $1.1 to $1.3 billion in earnings each year.