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Startups Weekly: Spotify gets acquisitive and Instacart screws up

Posted by on Feb 9, 2019 in alex wilhelm, anchor, Bessemer Venture Partners, consumer reports, CrunchBase, funding, Fundings & Exits, Fusion Fund, gimlet, gimlet media, Instacart, josh constine, lime, Mark Suster, Megan Rose Dickey, Mike McNamara, Reddit, Sanjay Jha, Spotify, Startups, steve huffman, TC, Uber, upfront ventures, Venture Capital, web summit, Y Combinator | 0 comments

Did anyone else listen to season one of StartUp, Alex Blumberg’s OG Gimlet podcast? I did, and I felt like a proud mom this week reading stories of the major, first-of-its-kind Spotify acquisition of his podcast production company, Gimlet. Spotify also bought Anchor, a podcast monetization platform, signaling a new era for the podcasting industry.

On top of that, Himalaya Media, a free podcast app I’d never heard of until this week, raised a whopping $100 million in venture capital funding to “establish itself as a new force in the podcast distribution space,” per Variety.

The podcasting business definitely took center stage, but Lime and Bird made headlines, as usual, a new unicorn emerged in the mental health space and Instacart, it turns out, has been screwing its independent contractors.

As mentioned, Spotify, or shall we say Spodify, gobbled up Gimlet and Anchor. More on that here and a full analysis of the deal here. Key takeaway: it’s the dawn of podcasting; expect a whole lot more venture investment and M&A activity in the next few years.

This week’s biggest “yikes” moment was when reports emerged that Instacart was offsetting its wages with tips from customers. An independent contractor has filed a class-action lawsuit against the food delivery business, claiming it “intentionally and maliciously misappropriated gratuities in order to pay plaintiff’s wages even though Instacart maintained that 100 percent of customer tips went directly to shoppers.” TechCrunch’s Megan Rose Dickey has the full story here, as well as Instacart CEO’s apology here.

Slack confidentially filed to go public this week, its first public step toward either an IPO or a direct listing. If it chooses the latter, like Spotify did in 2018, it won’t issue any new shares. Instead, it will sell existing shares held by insiders, employees and investors, a move that will allow it to bypass a roadshow and some of Wall Street’s exorbitant IPO fees. Postmates confidentially filed, too. The 8-year-old company has tapped JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America to lead its upcoming float.

Reddit CEO Steve Huffman delivers remarks on “Redesigning Reddit” during the third day of Web Summit in Altice Arena on November 08, 2017 in Lisbon, Portugal. (Horacio Villalobos-Corbis/Contributor)

It was particularly tough to decide which deal was the most notable this week… But the winner is Reddit, the online platform for chit-chatting about niche topics — r/ProgMetal if you’re Crunchbase editor Alex Wilhelm . The company is raising up to $300 million at a $3 billion valuation, according to TechCrunch’s Josh Constine. Reddit has been around since 2005 and has raised a total of $250 million in equity funding. The forthcoming Series D round is said to be led by Chinese tech giant Tencent at a $2.7 billion pre-money valuation.

Runner up for deal of the week is Calm, the app that helps users reduce anxiety, sleep better and feel happier. The startup brought in an $88 million Series B at a $1 billion valuation. With 40 million downloads worldwide and more than one million paying subscribers, the company says it quadrupled revenue in 2018 from $20 million to $80 million and is now profitable — not a word you hear every day in Silicon Valley.

Here’s your weekly reminder to send me tips, suggestions and more to kate.clark@techcrunch.com or @KateClarkTweets

I listened to the Bird CEO’s chat with Upfront Ventures’ Mark Suster last week and wrote down some key takeaways, including the challenges of seasonality and safety in the scooter business. I also wrote about an investigation by Consumer Reports that found electric scooters to be the cause of more than 1,500 accidents in the U.S. I’m also required to mention that e-scooter unicorn Lime finally closed its highly anticipated round at a $2.4 billion valuation. The news came just a few days after the company beefed up its executive team with a CTO and CMO hire.

Databricks raises $250M at a $2.75B valuation for its analytics platform
Retail technology platform Relex raises $200M from TCV
Raisin raises $114M for its pan-European marketplace for savings and investment products
Self-driving truck startup Ike raises $52M
Signal Sciences secures $35M to protect web apps
Ritual raises $25M for its subscription-based women’s daily vitamin
Little Spoon gets $7M for its organic baby food delivery service
By Humankind picks up $4M to rid your morning routine of single-use plastic

We don’t spend a ton of time talking about the growing, venture-funded, tech-enabled logistics sector, but one startup in the space garnered significant attention this week. Turvo poached three key Uber Freight employees, including two of the unit’s co-founders. What’s that mean for Uber Freight? Well, probably not a ton… Based on my conversation with Turvo’s newest employees, Uber Freight is a rocket ship waiting to take off.

Who knew that investing in female-focused brands could turn a profit for investors? Just kidding, I knew that and this week I have even more proof! This is L., a direct-to-consumer, subscription-based retailer of pads, tampons and condoms made with organic materials sold to P&G for $100 million. The company, founded by Talia Frenkel, launched out of Y Combinator in August 2015. According to PitchBook, it was backed by Halogen Ventures, 500 Startups, Fusion Fund and a few others.

Speaking of ladies getting stuff done, Bessemer Venture Partners promoted Talia Goldberg to partner this week, making the 28-year-old one of the youngest investing partners at the Silicon Valley venture fund. Plus, Palo Alto’s Eclipse Ventures, hot off the heels of a $500 million fundraise, added two general partners: former Flex CEO Mike McNamara and former Global Foundries CEO Sanjay Jha.

If you enjoy this newsletter, be sure to check out TechCrunch’s venture-focused podcast, Equity. In this week’s episode, available here, Crunchbase editor-in-chief Alex Wilhelm and I chat about the expanding podcast industry, Reddit’s big round and scooter accidents.

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Source: The Tech Crunch

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Mixtape podcast: Instacart’s apologetic week

Posted by on Feb 8, 2019 in Instacart, JUMP, modelland, Podcasts, Scooters, TC, TechCrunch Mixtape, Tyra Banks, Uber | 0 comments

It’s that time of the week again when Megan Rose Dickey and I talk about the good and could-be-better tech companies. This week, we talked about Instacart getting caught shorting its shoppers out of dough they rightfully deserved. Of course, the company apologized for its “misguided” approach. Which at least sounds better than apologizing for getting caught — and getting caught, the company did.

And wouldn’t you know it, scooter drama persists in San Francisco. The city this week shot down an appeal by JUMP to let it deploy its Uber-run scooters. The company, it seems, could have filed a better application in the first place, so back to the drawing board it goes to try to convince the municipality to relent.

Finally this week we talk about Tyra Banks’s Modelland, a physical space that will open in Santa Monica, Calif., later this year. It will give visitors an opportunity to experience life in a tech environment. I am intrigued at what this could be.

Click play above to listen to this week’s episode. And if you haven’t subscribed yet, what are you waiting for? Find us on Apple PodcastsStitcherOvercastCastBox or whichever other podcast platform you can find.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Daily Crunch: Instacart CEO apologizes

Posted by on Feb 7, 2019 in Apoorva Mehta, Daily Crunch, eCommerce, Instacart | 0 comments

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here:

1. Instacart CEO apologizes for tipping debacle

On the heels of a recently filed class-action lawsuit over wages and tips, as well as drivers and shoppers speaking out about Instacart’s alleged practices of subsidizing wages with tips, Instacart is taking steps to ensure tips are counted separately from what Instacart pays shoppers.

“While our intention was to increase the guaranteed payment for small orders, we understand that the inclusion of tips as a part of this guarantee was misguided,” said CEO Apoorva Mehta in a blog post. “We apologize for taking this approach.”

2. Match Group fully acquires relationship-focused app Hinge

Last year, Match Group acquired a 51 percent stake in the relationship-focused dating app Hinge, in order to diversify its portfolio of dating apps led by Tinder. The company has now confirmed that it fully bought out Hinge in the past quarter.

3. German antitrust office limits Facebook’s data gathering

A lengthy antitrust probe into how Facebook gathers data on users has resulted in Germany’s competition watchdog banning the social network giant from combining data on users across its own suite of social platforms without their consent.

4. Twitter Q4 beats on sales of $909M and EPS of $0.33, but MAUs slump to just 321M

Twitter’s Achilles’ heel remains user growth.

5. Amazon, Sequoia invest in self-driving car startup Aurora

Aurora, the buzzy startup founded by early pioneers of self-driving car technology who led programs at Google, Tesla and Uber, has raised more than $530 million in a Series B round led by Sequoia, a round that also includes “significant investment” from Amazon and T. Rowe Price Associates.

6. Why Spotify is betting big on podcasting

In an interview with TechCrunch, Spotify’s chief R&D officer Gustav Söderström admits that the company wasn’t doing a particularly good job serving up podcasting content: “The user experience was really poor.”

7. Skype can now blur the background during video calls

The Microsoft-owned service’s latest addition is a screen-blurring feature designed to obscure your messy room or any other background details that you’d rather not display to the other party on the line.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Instacart CEO apologizes for tipping debacle

Posted by on Feb 6, 2019 in Instacart, Startups, TC | 0 comments

On the heels of a recently filed class-action lawsuit over wages and tips, as well as drivers and shoppers speaking out about Instacart’s alleged practices of subsidizing wages with tips, Instacart is taking steps to ensure tips are counted separately from what Instacart pays shoppers.

In a blog post today, Instacart CEO Apoorva Mehta said all shoppers will now have a guaranteed higher base compensation, paid by Instacart. Depending on the region, Instacart says it will pay shoppers between $7 to $10 at a minimum for full-service orders (shopping, picking and delivering) and $5 at a minimum for delivery-only tasks. The company will also stop including tips in its base pay for shoppers.

“After launching our new earnings structure this past October, we noticed that there were small batches where shoppers weren’t earning enough for their time,” Mehta wrote. “To help with this, we instituted a $10 floor on earnings, inclusive of tips, for all batches. This meant that when Instacart’s payment and the customer tip at checkout was below $10, Instacart supplemented the difference. While our intention was to increase the guaranteed payment for small orders, we understand that the inclusion of tips as a part of this guarantee was misguided. We apologize for taking this approach.”

For the shoppers who were subject to that approach, Instacart says it will retroactively pay people whose tips were included in payment minimums.

You can read the full blog post at the bottom of this post. For background, Instacart had previously guaranteed its workers at least $10 per job, but workers said Instacart offset wages with tips from customers.

The suit alleges Instacart “intentionally and maliciously misappropriated gratuities in order to pay plaintiff’s wages even though Instacart maintained that 100 percent of customer tips went directly to shoppers. Based on this representation, Instacart knew customers would believe their tips were being given to shoppers in addition to wages, not to supplement wages entirely.”

In addition to the lawsuit, workers have taken to Reddit and other online forums to speak out against Instacart’s paying practices. Since introducing a new payments structure in October, which includes things like payments per mile, quality bonuses and customer tips, workers have said the pay has gotten worse — far below minimum wage. In one case, Instacart paid a worker just 80 cents for over an hour of work. Instacart has since said it was a glitch — caused by the fact that the customer tipped $10 — and has introduced a new minimum payment for orders. So, Instacart paid the worker $10.80, but just 80 cents of it came from Instacart.

While Instacart has said this was an edge case, Working Washington says this has happened in other cases. In another case, Instacart paid a worker just $7.26 (including cost of mileage) for over two hours’ worth of work.

“We heard loud and clear the frustration when your compensation didn’t match the effort you put forth,” Mehta wrote in the blog post. “As we looked at some of the extreme examples that have been surfaced by you over the last few days, it’s become clear to us that we can and should do better. Instacart shouldn’t be paying a shopper $0.80 for a batch. It doesn’t matter that this only happens 1 out of 100,000 times – it happened to one shopper and that’s one time too many.”

Here’s the full text of Mehta’s post:

To Our Shopper Community:

Every day, millions of people entrust Instacart to help get the food they need to feed their families and get back valuable time to spend with their loved ones. By delivering to and for our customers, you’ve become household heroes for millions of families across North America. This past week however, it’s become clear, that we’ve fallen short in delivering on our promise to you.

As you know, we’ve made changes to our shopper earnings model over the last year. These changes were designed to increase transparency while also keeping pace with a rapidly-evolving industry. In doing so, we’ve tried, in good faith, to balance those needs, but clearly we haven’t always gotten it right.

As a company, we remain committed to listening and putting our shoppers more at the forefront of our decision making. Based on your feedback, today we’re launching new measures to more fairly and competitively compensate all our shoppers. As part of this, our earnings approach moving forward will adhere to the following:

  • Tips should always be separate from Instacart’s contribution to shopper compensation

  • All batches will have a higher guaranteed compensation floor for shoppers, paid for by Instacart

  • Instacart will retroactively compensate shoppers when tips were included in minimums

Below are details on each new element of shopper earnings, which we will be rolling out in the coming days.

Tips Should Always Be Separate From Instacart’s Contribution to Shopper Compensation – After launching our new earnings structure this past October, we noticed that there were small batches where shoppers weren’t earning enough for their time. To help with this, we instituted a $10 floor on earnings, inclusive of tips, for all batches. This meant that when Instacart’s payment and the customer tip at checkout was below $10, Instacart supplemented the difference. While our intention was to increase the guaranteed payment for small orders, we understand that the inclusion of tips as a part of this guarantee was misguided. We apologize for taking this approach.

All Batches Will Have a Higher Guaranteed Floor for Shoppers, Paid by Instacart – We’re instituting a higher minimum floor payment from Instacart on all batches. Today our minimum batch payment is $3. Depending on the region, our minimum batch payment will increase to between $7 and $10 for full service batches (where a shopper picks, packs and delivers the order) and $5 for delivery only batches (where a shopper delivers the order after a separate person picks the groceries). These increased batch floors will be consistent for all shoppers within a particular geographic area. In addition to the higher guaranteed floors, Instacart will also pay a quality bonus and peak boosts for orders that qualify. Any tips earned by shoppers will be separate and in addition to Instacart’s contribution.

Instacart Will Retroactively Compensate Shoppers When Tips Were Included in Minimums – Over the coming days, as we transition to the new higher minimum floor payments, we will make you whole on the transactions that have occurred since the launch of this feature. Specifically, we will proactively reach out to all shoppers who were adversely affected by instances in which Instacart’s payment was below the $10 threshold. For example, if a shopper was paid $6 by Instacart, to compensate for our mistake, he or she will receive an additional $4 from Instacart.

In creating these changes to improve, enhance and create clarity for shopper compensation, these new measures will do the following:

1. Better protect shoppers from smaller, outlying batches. We heard loud and clear the frustration when your compensation didn’t match the effort you put forth. As we looked at some of the extreme examples that have been surfaced by you over the last few days, it’s become clear to us that we can and should do better. Instacart shouldn’t be paying a shopper $0.80 for a batch. It doesn’t matter that this only happens 1 out of 100,000 times – it happened to one shopper and that’s one time too many. We believe that these new guaranteed floor minimums will better protect our shoppers going forward.

2. Customer tips will no longer have any impact on Instacart’s contribution to shopper earnings. With an average tip of $5, our customers regularly recognize shoppers with tips for the services they provide. We believe that with these changes customers will continue to be able to recognize great service and have full confidence that their tips are going to the shopper who delivered their order, with no impact whatsoever on what the shopper receives from Instacart. As always, shoppers will receive 100% of their tips, regardless of the batch compensation.  

3. These changes will increase Instacart’s overall contribution to our shopper’s earnings and we believe that the change in tip structure will separate Instacart from an industry standard that’s no longer working for our shoppers and our customers.

Finally, I want to thank you for your feedback. It’s our responsibility to change course quickly when we realize we’re on the wrong path and we believe today’s changes are a step in the right direction.

Apoorva Mehta

Founder & CEO of Instacart


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Khosla GP launches Bling Capital to help seed-stage startups build products

Posted by on Nov 27, 2018 in ben ling, Facebook, Google, Instacart, instagram, jeremy stoppelman, Lyft, Marissa Mayer, Max Levchin, quora, Uber, Venture Capital, Yelp, Zenefits | 0 comments

At Facebook, where he was the first-ever director of platform, they called him Bling. At YouTube the following year, they still called him Bling. At Google in 2010, they continued to call him Bling. Even at Khosla Ventures, where Ben Ling has been a general partner for the past five years, the nickname stuck.

It was only natural that Bling Capital would be the name of his debut venture capital fund, a $60 million seed-stage vehicle backed by Marissa Mayer, Nellie and Max Levchin, Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman and Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo.

We first spotted Bling Capital’s $60 million filing two months back; this week, TechCrunch sat down with Ling, who will officially depart from Khosla next month, to learn more about his investment strategy and why he’s venturing off on his own.

Bling Capital founder Ben Ling

Ling joined Khosla in 2013 to invest in consumer technology, internet, mobile, marketplace, SaaS and consumer health. In his tenure as a general partner and angel investor, he deployed capital to nine “unicorns,” including Lyft, Palantir, Square, Instacart and Zenefits. But he wanted the freedom to invest at a more rapid clip.

“Going out on my own allows me to be more agile; a sole GP can act a lot more quickly and speed matters a lot in seed,” Ling said. “And I love early-stage and product because I think there is a void in the marketplace — there’s a lot of money in seed but there’s not a lot of product builders in seed.”

Ling will invest between $750,000 and $1 million in one to two U.S. companies per month in exchange for 10 percent equity.

The firm is in the process of closing two funds: a $60 million flagship vehicle that will invest in consumer tech, internet and mobile, marketplace, data, fintech, SaaS and automation startups, and a $30 million opportunities fund, per an SEC filing, reserved for follow-on investments.

“It’s pretty much the things that a Google, a Facebook or an Amazon would be interested in,” Ling said, referring to where the fund will invest. “What’s it’s not is crypto, or rockets or enterprise, but it’s pretty much everything else when we think about the world of the internet.”

Given Ling’s experience, the fund will have a particular focus on product. Ling is the sole general partner of Bling, but he’s recruited a team of roughly 60 experts to work with his portfolio company executives as part of what Ling has dubbed his Product CouncilThat includes the heads of product at Square, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Google, Nextdoor and Uber, who also are all investors in the fund.

Members of the Product Council will be available to consult with founders and may become advisors, investors or board members, if it’s a good match.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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The Amazonization of Whole Foods, one year in

Posted by on Sep 1, 2018 in Amazon, Amazon Prime, Apple, Barclays, E-Commerce, Food, food delivery, Grocery store, Instacart, prime, Prime Now, smartphone, TC, United States, whole foods, Whole Foods Market | 0 comments

Amazon promised to breathe new tech into the relationship with Whole Foods after putting a $13.7 billion ring on it one year ago. So how did that promise shake out?

At the time, Amazon said the goal was to make “high-quality, natural and organic food affordable for everyone.” Bananas, avocados and even tilapia was going to be cheaper than before. Prime members would receive increased benefits with discount rewards and Amazon drones would be delivering packages right to your door.

Okay, that last bit was not promised — though we’re not the first to speculate on that possibility in the future.

A bunch of other Amazon offerings involving delivery options were also mentioned, including the getting of Whole Food groceries through a then new Amazon Fresh grocery delivery program and Whole Foods private label products would be made available through Prime Now and Prime Pantry. Further, Amazon lockers would be showing up at select stores to make pick ups and returns easier for Amazon customers. And, of course, new jobs would be created to handle all the new infusion of technology.

Soon customers started to see Amazon Echo devices popping up in stores, urging people to install them in their home for easier grocery ordering through voice command. Echo dots lined the walls and could be found surrounded by produce. Amazon promised to deliver more devices to try in-store ahead of purchase as time went on.

Since the launch, “customers have already saved hundreds of millions of dollars,” according to Whole Foods co-founder and CEO John Mackey. “So whether it’s better prices on your weekly shop, saving time through delivery from Prime Now or taking advantage of incredible weekly deals for Prime members, the overall customer experience is richer and more seamless than it’s ever been,” he continued.

I’m not sure the average customer would see the experience as “richer and more seamless” but the changes are noticeable. Walking into my local Whole Foods, the Amazon branding is everywhere from the deep orange lockers off to the side, the large, green Amazon Fresh coolers greeting me at the entrance to the parking lot and rows of bags ready for pickup and delivery via Amazon workers.

A large “Prime Member Deal” sign hangs down from the ceiling, greeting me at the front of the store. Beyond, there’s the produce, once fresh and free of rot with all organic labeling. Now? It’s unclear. I used to argue the “whole paycheck” prices were worth it for the better quality produce. Lately, I’ve had to throw a bunch of stuff out because it just doesn’t last as long or look as good. Not everything is organic.

Other shoppers have noticed the same dip in quality across the U.S., along with missing products or a lot of out of stock items they’d been buying for years at their grocery store.

It’s been called the “conventionalization” of Whole Foods by Wall Street investment bank Barclays, which also noted there had been some comments from Mackey about cultural “clashes” during his appearance at the American Production and Inventory Control society’s annual conference.

On the flip, Amazon has managed to add some nifty integrations for Prime members including club member style sales prices and five percent cash back for those purchasing groceries with their Prime Visa card. You want to do one better, just download the Amazon app to your smartphone, use the code given and then purchase with Apple pay using your Amazon Prime credit card for maximum benefits. Of course, that’s only for those all in with the system.

Adding to that, there’s the super fast two-hour delivery option (in 20 cities for now, with more to come this year, according to Amazon) and grocery pickup so you don’t even have to wander through the store to get everything you need (although, I am one of those who likes picking out my own produce and wandering through the store sometimes),

I’ve also enjoyed using the integrated partnership to order Whole Foods items straight from my Amazon Fresh account (a lifesaver in those early days of postpartum when it was impossible to get out of the house). Before the integration I could use Instacart but had to order from each store separately in different orders. With Amazon, I can order from various stores, including Whole Foods through my Amazon Fresh account all in one order and then choose a time for delivery.

There’s still some bumps with that process — you can’t order every item available in Whole Foods, just what Fresh offers that week through the Amazon platform. The bags are also large and often don’t fill up to their full potential, leaving a lot of waste. But that’s like complaining you can’t get good WiFi on an airplane. It’s frustrating but you are flying through the sky and messaging people on the ground. Similar, you are ordering food through the air waves and it shows up at your door step. In the grand scheme, it’s amazing!

Anyway, yes, there are more conveniences for Amazon Prime members and further integrations with technology to make the shopping experience easier. It does also seem Amazon has hired more workers to fulfill the needs this technology creates. At my own market it seems tough to tell who is an Amazon worker rummaging through the aisles for listed items and who’s just shopping for themselves these days.

Is the marriage working? Tough to tell at this point. Those promised changes may seem exciting for both parties but between disappointed shoppers and a “clash” in culture it may not have been what Whole Foods faithful wanted. Still, at least some vendors have said they’ve seen an increase in sales and volume of products sold since the acquisition, despite the drop in prices. And Mackey, comparing his love for his wife with the relationship said in a recent interview “I don’t love absolutely everything about my wife, either, but on balance I love, like, 98%. That’s a pretty good ratio, based on my previous relationships.”

It might not even matter what loyal Whole Foods customers think. The acquisition gives Amazon an opportunity to introduce its 100 million Prime members to the grocery store it envisions — one that could drop organic, fossil fuel free groceries via drone at their doorstep in the future.

While it’s hard to know how the partnership has impacted Amazon’s bottom line overall, we do know sales going up and to the right is a good thing. We still need to see how this relationship performs over time but one year in looks promising.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Aiming to make billboard advertising more programmatic, Adquick raises $2.1 million

Posted by on Jul 17, 2018 in AdQuick, Alexis Ohanian, billboard advertising, initialized capital, Instacart, outdoor advertising, Reddit, TC | 0 comments

Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of Initialized Capital and an investor in Adquick, a new service that’s looking to bring billboard advertising into the internet age, bought his last billboard ad just this year.

For several years, the Reddit founder had turned to outdoor advertising as a tool to troll politicians and advocate for various positions (and celebrate his famous wife). The last political billboard, in 2012, was to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act.

It was also the impetus for his investment in Adquick. “I’d seen pitches from a number of competitors that were all just static websites on top of the single business,” says Ohanian.

What he was looking for, and what he eventually found in Adquick was a company that had managed to map all of the billboard advertising options available in the U.S. and was offering would-be advertisers a way to digitally distribute their ads and book inventory.

“For us the reason why it was such an exciting initial investment was because we saw the opportunity and the talent of the team,” Ohanian says.

Matthew O’Connor, Adquick’s chief executive previously worked at Instacart and it was there that he and his team first learned about dragging traditional businesses into the online world.

“This team had come out of Instacart… they came well recommended by the founders over there,”Ohanian said. “Working with them now I’ve just gotten more and more impressed.”

So impressed, that Ohanian doubled down on his firm’s initial investment into the company with a new $2.1 million round.

There’s an undoubtable opportunity in outdoor advertising. O’Connor estimates that it’s a $33 billion global market with $8 billion spent on outdoor ads in the U.S. alone.

“They are aggregating from hundreds of vendors across the U.S. and they’re making it easy for companies to sell those ads and manage that inventory and bringing a ton of transparency to a system that is mostly phone calls and emails,” Ohanian said. 

Bringing those efficiencies to an old industry can only help what’s been the only non-digital ad channel to actually grow in the U.S. “It’s the oldest channel in the world that’s about to undergo a resurgence,” O’Connor says.

“It’s the last frontier of advertising,” says O’Connor. “This is a real world channel that can have a lot of tailwinds if we can bring these great modern technologies to it which is what we’re doing.”


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Instacart hires its first chief communications officer, Dani Dudeck

Posted by on Jul 9, 2018 in Amazon, dani dudeck, eCommerce, Food, Instacart, Startups, Talent, TC, whole foods | 0 comments

Instacart, the grocery delivery platform valued at $4.2 billion, has today announced that it has hired its first chief communications officer in Dani Dudeck.

Dudeck has been in the communications world for the past 15 years, serving as VP of Global Communications at MySpace for four years and moving to Zynga as CCO in 2010. At Zynga, Dudeck oversaw corporate and consumer reputation of the brand before and after its IPO, helping the company through both tremendous periods of growth and a rapidly changing mobile gaming landscape.

Dudeck joins Instacart at an equally interesting time for the company. Though Instacart is showing no signs of slowing down — the company recently raised $200 million in funding — the industry as a whole is seeing growing interest from incumbents and behemoth tech companies alike.

Amazon last year acquired Whole Foods for nearly $14 billion, signaling the e-commerce giant’s intention to get into the grocery business. Plus, Target acquired Shipt for $550 million in December. Meanwhile, Walmart has partnered with DoorDash and Postmates for grocery delivery after a short-lived partnership with Uber and Lyft.

In other words, the industry is at a tipping point. Instacart not only needs to out-maneuver the increasingly competitive space, but continue to tell its story to both consumers and potential shoppers/employees alike.

Dudeck plans to hit the ground running after having been an Instacart customer since 2013.

Here’s what Dudeck had to say in a prepared statement:

We’ve been an Instacart family for years and as a mom it’s been a game changer for me. Our home is powered by Instacart because over the years, I saw how the products helped me better manage our household rhythm. Whether I’m doing a fast diaper delivery or fresh groceries for our weekly shopping, I love feeling like I can be in two places at once while getting to spend more time with my family. After getting to know the internal team, I was blown away by the strength of Instacart’s business and the unique culture they’ve created. By building on that success, we have a compelling opportunity to grow Instacart into a beloved, household name and turn Express into a must-have membership for families and busy people everywhere. I’m excited to join the management team and partner with them to accelerate their ambitious plans for future growth.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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