Uber & Starbucks Top US Vendor Business Expenses — What Does That Mean For Tesla?

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This is not the freshest data, but I’ve had this story near the top of my list for months, so I think its potential importance and relevance to cleantech are quite high. According to data from the company Certify — an online travel, expense, & invoice software company — the “most common U.S. vendors for business expenses” in the past couple of years were Uber and Starbucks, respectively.

In 2013 and 2014, the top vendors were Delta and Starbucks, respectively, and those two companies flipped at the top of the heap in 2015 while Uber jumped from outside the top 10 to #3. Since 2016, Uber has held the #1 spot. Airlines other than Delta (United, Southwest, American, US Airways), certain fast food restaurants (McDonald’s) and big box stores (Costco, Walmart), some hotel chains, and Amazon are other common vendors in the top 10.

Very simply, the ranking is just interesting. Uber and Starbucks? Really? However, something quickly jumped out to me that relates directly to cleantech.

Uber is on top of the app-based transport market right now, but it quickly came out of nowhere, and there’s no saying another app-based transport company can’t knock it off the throne. If Tesla’s app-based robotaxi service does indeed arrive in the coming few years (in some markets, at least), there could be a sudden shift in the transportation services Americans use (in those markets, at least).

Tesla has pointed it out before, but it’s worth repeating in this context that the revenue potential from its planned app-based ride-hailing service is immense. If Tesla [TSLA] can undercut the pricing of Uber, in nicer vehicles, watch out — Tesla’s current valuation is going to prove to be way too small! (That’s not investment advice, and note that I am a TSLA shareholder, but it just seems obvious to me.)

As I’ve shared before, who really knows when Tesla will be able to actually roll out human-free full self driving and robotaxis? As I’ve also shared, though, I’m bullish enough on Tesla achieving this in the next couple of years that it was one of the core reasons I recently bought a Tesla Model 3.

What about that other top vendor, Starbucks?

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When Kyle Field, Chanan Bos, and I toured Tesla’s Fremont offices and factory earlier this year, one fun thing we discovered is that Tesla produced its own coffee for a while (or maybe still does). If it’s even half good, I imagine there’s an enormous number of consumers who would buy Tesla coffee. A lot of people love Tesla. They’d give up Starbucks in a heartbeat for Tesla coffee. Is this a likely new product rollout? I highly doubt it. Nonetheless, I think it’s a fun, good idea. Get on it, Tesla — make some easy money!

But let’s not stop there. There’s one more topic we bring up from time to time that’s as exciting an idea as ever, imho. Tesla cafés! Maarten Vinkhuyzen most recently explained the idea, and I think he did a superb job of it, so just read that article.

Tesla has to have a fairly focused approach to business right now, as it continues to ramp up high-volume vehicle sales, delivery, and service. Nonetheless, cool Tesla cafés at Supercharger stations, Service Centers, galleries, and beyond could be wonderful places for Tesla drivers to congregate, for non-owners to ask questions, and for Tesla to launch test drives. Sound too wild? Well, perhaps vehicle stores inside of malls and ordering cars online once did as well.

If Tesla created coffee shops with nice atmospheres where people could chill out, work, get caffeinated, and look at Teslas, seriously, millions of people would pour into them in order to have another type of “Tesla experience.”

Build it, and they will come.


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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

Zachary Shahan has 7400 posts and counting. See all posts by Zachary Shahan