Weekly Round-Up: Instacart Moves Forward With IPO Plans

We’ve been keeping an eye on Instacart which has teased going public for a while now. It looks like there’s finally movement on that front once more. Also, drone deliveries are coming to Dallas thanks to Wing and Walmart.

Instacart IPO Isn’t Offering Empty Calories


Have investors really shifted their focus from growth to profits? Instacart might prove the truest test of that theory.

The online provider of grocery delivery services filed papers Friday for an initial public offering. That filing showed a surprisingly decent bottom line—and not one pulled in the nick of time ahead of the listing. Maplebear, which does business as Instacart, first generated an operating profit based on generally accepted accounting principles in the fourth quarter of 2020. It has also shown a profit under those standards for the last five consecutive quarters, leading to an operating margin of 14% for the trailing 12-month period ended in June.

Instacart proving that investors shifted from growth to profits.
Instacart proving that investors shifted from growth to profits.

That stands out especially against other so-called gig-economy players. Uber, Lyft and DoorDash are still all losing money annually on that basis, though Uber did just manage its first quarter of GAAP operating profits in the June period. Advertising has likely been a major factor helping Instacart’s bottom line, as national brands pay for prime placement in the company’s virtual grocery aisles. One of those national brands— PepsiCo —is even buying $175 million of Instacart’s shares in a private placement deal ahead of the offering. Advertising now accounts for more than a quarter of Instacart’s annual revenue.

My Take

What a crazy concept! Showing profitability before going public. In case you missed it, that was sarcasm. Uber and Lyft are famous for not showing profitability, most especially before going public years ago.

This is the kind of investment I would consider personally just because they are showing stability and profitability before making this leap. If this is the reason why Instacart held off for so long, I’m sure it’ll pay off for them.

Wing And Walmart Will Offer Six-Mile Drone Deliveries Over Dallas


Wing, Alphabet’s aviation subsidiary, is partnering with Walmart to kick off drone deliveries from the retail chain in the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) metro area. The flights will begin taking off “in the coming weeks” from a Walmart Supercenter in Frisco, TX, and the companies plan to expand to a second DFW location before the end of the year. The companies say the coverage area from both stores will cover 60,000 homes.

The service will be available to homes within about six miles of the supported stores. Residents in those areas can order things like quick meals, groceries, essentials and over-the-counter medicines. The drones can fly up to 65 mph, and Wing says you’ll get your items in under 30 minutes. They use a retractable tether to “gently deliver even delicate items” — including challenging products like eggs and frozen treats.

Drone deliveries groceries, quick meals, essentials and OTC medicines over Dallas in the coming weeks as per Wing.
Drone deliveries groceries, quick meals, essentials and OTC medicines over Dallas in the coming weeks as per Wing.

Wing’s drones are largely automated and monitored remotely. “Wing’s technology allows operators to oversee the system from a remote location, which means pilots won’t need to be stationed at stores or customer homes,” Alphabet’s company wrote in an announcement blog post. “The aircraft essentially fly themselves, so each operator is approved to safely oversee many drones at the same time.”

My Take

Drone deliveries have been talked about more and more in recent years. It makes sense that they are doing it so that multiple orders can be flown off at once with one operator managing several at once. Otherwise, it wouldn’t really be a cost savings or better than having drivers just tackle it themselves.

So, if you’re in the Dallas area and use this service, let us know how it works. Do you prefer it over getting drivers to deliver your order? What’s the draw?

I feel like it would only really be fun at first because of the novelty of it. But overall, I don’t feel like many would have a preference from drone versus driver. I could be wrong!

DoorDash Launches AI-Powered Voice Ordering Technology For Restaurants


DoorDash is launching AI-powered voice ordering technology that will allow restaurants to increase their sales by answering all of the calls they receive, the company announced on Monday. The system will also provide customers with curated recommendations to complement their meal.

The company’s 2023 Restaurant Online Ordering Trends Report reveals that one in five customers prefer to order takeout via phone, but up to 50% of customer calls are left unanswered, which results in potential revenue losses.

“Customers expect more from restaurateurs, and in return, restaurateurs expect even more technology-forward solutions from us – including support for phone channels to meet customers where they’re ordering,” said Rajat Shroff, head of Product and Design at DoorDash, in a statement. “Supporting operators by capturing customer demand through

My Take

More signs of the future coming to life. For one, I know several service industry people hate having to stop their service just to answer the phone to answer basic questions like hours, specials, etc, let alone having to stop to take an over-the-phone order.

Plus, if it’s busy enough, the phone will just keep on ringing without a resolution for the customer, potentially leaving them in the lurch and deciding to eat elsewhere. This kind of automation is something I can definitely get behind.

Florida Men Charged With Scamming $1M Out Of Uber Eat


The sheriff is calling them “Uber cheats.”

Florida investigators have charged a pair of Broward County men with a ravenous Uber Eats scam that cost the company more than $1 million.

Trayon Morgan, 21, and Roy Blackwood, 38, allegedly bit off “more than they can chew” when they uncovered a loophole that allowed them to convert prepaid company credit into gift cards by pretending to be both Uber Eats customers and delivery drivers, according to authorities.

My Take

There will always be another scam. It’s quite impressive, actually, that these guys got away with so much. I’m assuming Uber will be closing up this loophole in some way to prevent others from following suit. It was so simple I would actually be amazed if others haven’t done the same.

Imagine getting away with stealing $1 million worth of gift cards before getting caught. Wow.

I’m An Instacart Shopper. I Log On At 4 A.M., Travel To Other Cities, And Even Stay In Hotels To Make More Money.


This as-told-to story is based on a conversation with an Instacart shopper in Oregon. He has shopped for Instacart for three years. He described what it’s like shopping and delivering orders for the service. He asked to remain anonymous to protect his job, but Insider has verified his identity and employment. The following has been edited for length and clarity.

I normally start my day at about 3:30 in the morning.

I turn the app on around 4. We have access to Jacksons’ ExtraMile, 7-Eleven, and other convenience gas stations that are open 24 hours. There have been times that I’ve taken early orders. Every once in a while, there’ll be a decent order that I can pick up.

My regular day doesn’t usually start until 6. I leave my house probably about 5:45, and then I show up to Fred Meyer. I will shop at Fred Meyer as long as the time permits until it’s time to go to Costco at 10 o’clock.

My Take

I can’t imagine traveling that much just to make some money. It seems so unreliable and like so much hassle for the outcome. And just unsustainable if he’s waking up at 3:30 in the morning and shopping/delivering until 9pm. Yikes.

I mean, good for this person if it’s what works for them, but that is worse hours than most full-time jobs. I can’t imagine they are making enough money to make that worthwhile. According to the article, they do what they do to make more, so it seems to be working.

New on RSG This Week