The pandemic brought about a boom for all delivery services as people were asked to stay home. Delivery was an easy option to avoid crowds while getting the necessities. But is the novelty of it fading? Let’s find out in this week’s roundup with senior RSG contributor Paula Gibbins.
Instacart Searches for a Direction as Its Pandemic Boom Fades (New York Times)
Summary: Last summer, Instacart had a rough reality check. After a year of explosive, pandemic-driven growth for its grocery delivery business, people were returning to grocery stores. Sales slowed. New customers were harder to find. It could have been the kiss of death for a start-up that expected to grow very fast.
So Apoorva Mehta, Instacart’s co-founder and chief executive, asked Uber and DoorDash, two top competitors, if they were interested in acquiring or partnering with his company, said eight people with knowledge of the talks. Nothing came of the discussions, and in early July Mr. Mehta said he would leave the top job at his company but stay on as chairman.
The tumultuous summer set the stage for Instacart’s current uncertainty as it tries to avoid becoming another pandemic boom company that has fizzled, like Peloton or Zoom. Mr. Mehta’s replacement, Fidji Simo, a member of Instacart’s board and a former executive at Facebook, now has to lead the company against competition that has become tougher since the pandemic started. She also has to manage skeptical investors who have been waiting at least four years for Instacart to go public.
When exactly that will happen became murkier last month when, in a rare move, Instacart said it was slashing its valuation by 40 percent to $24 billion, citing the “market turbulence” that has roiled technology companies. In addition, top executives have left, including two presidents, one of whom resigned after just three months….
My Take: Personally, the fees associated with delivery are making it a lot more difficult to get behind. Whether that’s Instacart or DoorDash, when I’m spending significantly more money to get my items delivered than driving 5 minutes up the road and shopping for myself, it’s harder to justify.
But there are still perks. I might consider it if I get a discounted delivery or service fee. Especially if I’m stuck at home sick (like I currently am). I don’t want to spread my germs to other people, whether it’s Covid or not. So, I’ll be more inclined to stay home and order something in if I need it.
There’s still a purpose for these kinds of services, but they aren’t the top priority anymore, in my opinion.
DoorDash extends gas rewards program for delivery people on its platform through August (TechCrunch)
Summary: DoorDash announced today that it’s expanding its gas rewards program for delivery people on its platform. The program enables delivery people using their DasherDirect card to receive 10% cash back on their gas purchases, anywhere in the United States. The company announced the rewards program last month with the goal of offsetting rising gas prices. The program was originally supposed to last through April but has now been extended until the end of August.
The company says that since the launch of the program, delivery people on the platform have saved an average of $0.42 per gallon on every visit. DoorDash also says that every hour, more than 8,600 delivery people are using their Dasher Direct cards to save with 10% cash back. In addition, DoorDash notes that delivery people have used the 10% cash back benefit through DasherDirect in over 8 million transactions across gas stations.
DoorDash says it will continue to monitor gas prices through the summer months and listen to feedback from its community of delivery people about its programs….
My Take: Overall, this is a good thing and great insight from DoorDash. Showing they are willing to help out their drivers during uncertain times is a step in the right direction. And even though gas prices aren’t as high as they were when this was originally put into place, they are still higher than they had been the previous few years.
I do hope that other companies will follow suit. If not, this might encourage more people to abandon other platforms and join DoorDash instead.
Uber Ordered to Produce Records About 2016 Hack and Cover-Up (Wall Street Journal)
Summary: A federal judge ordered Uber Technologies Inc. to turn over unredacted documents that could reveal more details about how company brass responded to a 2016 data breach, which led to costly legal battles for the ride-sharing giant and criminal charges for its then-security chief over a cover-up.
Judge William Orrick of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California said hundreds of internal communications sought by Uber’s former chief security officer may be necessary for his defense against allegations that he tried to mislead U.S. officials about the incident.
Joseph Sullivan is accused of attempting to conceal an incident in which Uber allegedly paid hackers $100,000 in bitcoin to destroy stolen data about 57 million passengers and drivers. He has pleaded not guilty.
Some security experts view the case as pivotal in determining corporate officers’ legal liability for their handling of cyberattacks—and evidence that security chiefs should push for built-in safeguards from their employers….
My Take: We all love a good scandal, right? But it’s even better when it’s a cover-up gone wrong. How do you think companies like Uber—or any company for that matter—should handle cyber security issues? Cyberattacks are probably more common than any of us realize because companies scramble to cover it up instead of coming clean to the general public.
Sometimes, when they come clean, the company suffers irreparable damage, taking a hit to their reputation, even though they are honest and upfront about it.
Also in the news…
Uber to pay $19m for misleading riders with fee warning (Aljazeera)
Thoughts: I think it’s funny that Uber is getting in trouble over a potential fee warning. Now, the rest of it, where they inflated comparable taxi rides to make Uber rides more appealing, is definitely something worth looking into. But a warning of a potential fee? I guess I don’t see what the harm is there.
Woman seen coughing on Uber driver now accused of identity theft (ABC)
Thoughts: We covered this story during the pandemic. This woman obviously didn’t learn her lesson and continues to do illegal things.
‘She’s trespassing’: Karen gives Lyft driver the wrong address multiple times, refuses to leave the car (Daily Dot)
Thoughts: Drivers have to put up with a lot of crap some days. Not everyone would agree that this driver handled things well, but I think she did a decent job considering the circumstances. When your passenger repeatedly puts in the wrong address and then blames you for it, that’s never a good day.
How would you handle a passenger screaming at you and inputting the incorrect address and blaming you for their mistake?
-Paula @ RSG