If you live in a major city in the U.S. or Europe, you’ve probably noticed the explosion of startups promising ultra-fast delivery of groceries & convenience items. Companies like JOKR, Gorillas, and GoPuff can now get items to consumers in 10-40 minutes - this is significantly faster than Instacart or even Amazon Fresh!
How are they doing this? They’ve disrupted the model of last-mile delivery. Most companies in this space (e.g. DoorDash, Uber Eats, Instacart) receive your order, send a shopper to the store to pick up the items, and then deliver to you. Next gen companies cut out the first and second step of this process. They purchase inventory, store it in warehouses, and then quickly pack & deliver items when an order is received.
This is an “asset heavy” business model - buying inventory, renting warehouses, and building fulfillment centers requires a lot of upfront capital. But that’s not a problem in today’s funding environment! JOKR and Gorillas, which are both <1 year old, are raising significantly more capital and expanding faster than their predecessors.
And this week brought news that GoPuff, the “OG” of this strategy, raised another $1B at a $15B valuation. This is a nearly 2x markup from the company’s last round in March. A lot of investors are skeptical of these business models (see my thread for more) - regardless of where you stand on this, it’s probably great news from a consumer perspective. Prepare yourself for more VC-subsidized deliveries!
I’m trying a different format for the news this week. Let me know what you think!
📉 Robinhood went public this week - it closed the first day of trading down 8% after pricing near the bottom of its range.
📈 Duolingo had an easier debut, popping 36% in its IPO. The company more than doubled revenue last year, and now has 40M MAUs.
💸 Amazon is facing an $887M fine from the EU for allegedly violating GDPR (the data privacy law). The company plans to contest the fee.
💇 Squire, a tech platform for barbershops, raised a Series D led by Tiger at a $750M valuation. 2,000 barbershops use Squire globally.
🍎 Apple crushed earnings expectations - iPhone sales climbed 50% YoY! However, the stock fell on lower Q3 revenue guidance due to supply constraints.
📌 Pinterest fell 22% after MAUs grew only 9% YoY. CEO Ben Silbermann said stay-at-home provided a big bump that is reversing as the world reopens.
🎧 Spotify also missed on user growth (22% YoY), but saw a bright spot in podcasting as listenership grew 30% and ad revenue grew 627% YoY.
Embark, the “23AndMe for dogs,” raised a $75M Series B led by SoftBank at a $700M valuation. Embark’s test kit costs $199, and analyzes 200,000 genetic markers to provide information about a dog’s ancestry and health risks.
Embark has benefitted from the COVID-induced pet boom, growing sales 235% in 2020. The company also has an interesting B2B business, as breeders use Embark to certify that their puppies are as-advertised.
Like 23AndMe, Embark has a delightful relative finder, where users can search for their dog’s siblings - sometimes resulting in emotional reunions (see video above!).
what i’m following 👀
Yat raises $20M to bring emoji identities to the mainstream.
How online creators (newsletter writers, Twitter personalities) are parlaying their success into microfunds.
Why are influencers launching D2C brands - and do they make good CEOs?
DoorDash is exploring the next evolution of ghost kitchens by making food itself!
In the past year, we’ve seen a marked shift in how social networks think about monetization. Most used to focus almost exclusively on generating revenue via ads. Users weren’t expected to pay for anything - they (and their data) were the product, with businesses willing to spend money to get their attention!
Now, every major social network has launched revenue-generating products in two new categories: (1) creator monetization and (2) social shopping. I covered creator monetization last week, so I’ll focus on social shopping now.
You could argue that social networks have always enabled shopping - the majority of ads on FB and TikTok encourage you to click through to a website (or swipe up!) to buy a product. But how often have you done that? It requires you to: navigate to an external website, find products you like, add them to cart, input your credit card and shipping info, and check out. It’s an extremely “leaky” funnel, with many points where you might just close the tab and go back to browsing.
This is a suboptimal experience for everyone - the consumer, the company that pays for the ad (and likely gets few purchases!), and the social platform that serves the ad. Why is it bad for the platform? Because so few consumers click through and purchase, the company may not be willing to pay much for the ad. To generate meaningful revenue, the platform has to run lots of ads - which makes the consumer experience worse!
This is why we’re starting to see social networks launch in-platform shopping features that make it easy for consumers to discover and purchase products without leaving their app. The consumer experience is better, conversion goes up, and the platform can (hopefully) make a cut of the transaction. It’s a win-win-win!
The incumbent social platforms are at different stages of implementing this playbook. Instagram was an early adopter - a year ago, it released in-app checkout to all U.S. businesses. Twitter is a bit late to the party but starting to catch up - this week, the company announced that it will pilot a “Shop Module” (see screenshot), which will allow business accounts to showcase products that users can purchase in-app.
I’m curious to see how this feature performs, as Twitter isn’t necessarily a natural fit for shopping. Many consumers already go to platforms like Instagram and Pinterest to discover products, so it makes sense for those apps to facilitate a more seamless purchase experience. I’m not sure if you can say the same about Twitter!
Would you buy products through Twitter?
As a side note - if you’re interested in social commerce, we’re hiring a biz ops associate at Canal! Great opportunity to join an early stage startup building a really cool product in this space. Highly recommend you check it out 😊
🚨 ICYMI - Olivia & I launched an Accelerated Job Board! We’ve posted 135 roles so far, filterable by location, function, and years of experience. Check it out.
Aloft - Full Stack Engineer (Seattle)
Canal - Biz Ops Associate (SF)
Paradigm - Investment Associate (SF)
Carta - Ops & Strategy (SF)
Pave - Partner Ops (SF)
Guild - Partner Ops Associate (SF)
thredUP - Biz Ops Associate (Oakland)
Scout - Mobile Software Engineer (LA)
CB Insights - Research Analyst (NYC)
AbleTo - Ops & Strategy Associate (NYC)
Merge API - Growth (NYC)
Founders Intelligence - Consultant (London)
*Requires 3+ years of experience.
Precursor Ventures - Fall MBA Interns (Remote)
GoodRx - Editorial DE&I Intern (SF, LA, Remote)
EcoCart - BD Intern (SF, Remote)
Remoov - Sales & Marketing Intern (SF)
Cerebral - Communications Intern (LA)
Neighbor - Lifecycle Marketing Intern (Utah)
Uber - Fall Strategy & Planning Intern (NYC)
In-Q-Tel - Investment Ops Intern (Arlington, VA)
HelloFresh - Growth Marketing Intern (London)
Vestiaire Collective - Campaigns & CRM Intern (Paris)
puppy of the week 🐶
Meet Toby, a 3.5-year-old beagle who lives in the Netherlands.
Toby enjoys going on walks through the forest, eating his dog ice cream pops, and just generally looking like he’s over it (who can blame him after the past year?).
Follow him on Instagram @beagletoby_!