If there's one thing that set Amazon ($AMZN) apart from its rivals and paved Jeff Bezos and co's path for e-commerce dominance, it was the company's ability to get items into the hands of its customers faster than anyone else and without significant cost. What was once the main reason to go to an actual store — isntant gratification and lack of delivery fees — became a non-factor. Need kitty litter before the weekend? Amazon Prime has it at your doorstep by the time Mittens has time to make too much of a mess.

But it's the final mile — actually putting the product into the hands of customers rather than relying on third-party logistics companies — that's keeping executives awake at night at Amazon. The company hopes to do so with a fleet of drones that it projects will get products to customers in the space of an hour. But Amazon isn't alone in this effort: Google ($GOOG) and Uber ($UBER) both want a piece of the drone-delivery action and, just like Amazon, they're hiring up teams to make it so, with some slightly different cargo in mind.

Amazon Air to airlift your package

Amazon's "Prime Air" division has been taking shape for some time now. In fact, it was announced by Bezos himself in 2013 and officially founded in 2016. Amazon expects to begin operations in select cities beginning this year.

Jobs at Amazon slated for the division — with "Prime Air" in their titles — have been on a steady rise since at least 2018. At the beginning of that year, Amazon was hiring just 4 people for Amazon Air. As of last month, that number reached 82 openings.

Meanwhile, listings at Amazon that mention "Prime Air" in their job descriptions have soared to over 200 from around 50 at this time last year.

Google Wing to move B2B freight

Back in 2014, Alphabet Inc. was already completing real-world drone-based freight deliveries. In 2018, Project Wing moved out of Google X and into its own independent Alphabet company. And in Bonython, Australia, Wing began delivering food to lucky residents as of January 2019.

Hiring for Wing jobs at Alphabet is still somewhat lean, but it does show definite signs of uptick as of the spring of 2019. That's right when Wing became the first FAA operator's certificate to allow it to operate as an airline in the United States. Expect this division to grow through 2020. 

Uber Elevate to move people above car traffic

If your childhood vision of the future included flying car, sit tight, because Uber hopes to make that vision a reality with Uber Elevate. While Uber Elevate is still in its concept and prototype phase, the company plans to begin "demonstrator" flights in 2020 and be fully operational in 2023.

If that all still sounds like a childhood fantasy, Uber would have you know that it's hiring up a team for Elevate and it's all very legal, very cool. But, really: the company went on a bit of a hiring spree for Elevate last spring, accelerating openings from 4 to 12 between March and April, and is still looking for 8 people to join the team. Meanwhile, the ridesharing company has been busy build a drone team for food delivery at Uber Eats.

About the Data: 

Thinknum tracks companies using information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

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