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Main article: Deliveroo

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Topics from 1 to 10 | in all: 48

Bolt Bikes launches e-bike subscription platform for gig delivery workers in U.S., UK

16:00 | 18 November

Bolt Bikes, the Sydney, Australia-based startup founded in 2017, is taking its electric bike platform designed for gig economy delivery workers to the U.S. and UK.

The company is expanding on the heels of a $2.5 million seed round led by Maniv Mobility, European e-mobility firm Contrarian Ventures, individual investors and former executives of Uber and Deliveroo . The company was founded by Mina Nada, former Deliveroo and Mobike executive) and Michael Johnson, a former Bain & Co executive.

Bolt Bikes now provides its flexible subscriptions, which include vehicle servicing, in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia, San Francisco and London. The company sells its electric bikes. But the main premise is to rent them out for commercial use. The electric bikes are rented on a week-to-week contract for $39.

The Bolt Bikes platform includes a the electric bike, fleet management software, financing and servicing. Subscribers get 24-hour access to the bike. A battery charger, phone holder, phone USB port, secure U-Lock and safety induction is included. Bolt Bikes also offers the first week as a free trial.

“Being in the food delivery industry since its inception, we saw that light electric vehicles were the real future of ‘last mile’ logistics, yet no-one was offering the right vehicle, financing or maintenance solution,” Nada said in a statement.

Bolt Bikes has piqued the interest of more than investors. Postmates has been piloting a Bolt Bikes rental program in San Francisco since June.

And the company has aspirations to increase its fleet and to expand to more cities in the U.S., UK and Australia.

 


0

Prosus makes $6.3B hostile bid for Just Eat, which rejects deal in favor of Takeaway merger

14:12 | 11 November

As Amazon-backed Deliveroo expands into click-and-collect and procurement services to grow its footprint with restaurants in Europe, a food fight among three other takeout and delivery players continues apace in an ongoing consolidation march to compete better against the likes not just of Deliveroo but also Uber Eats and more.

Today, Prosus — the recently-listed arm of Naspers comprising its extensive online assets (including a significant stake in Tencent) — said that it would be willing to pay £4.9 billion ($6.3 billion) in cash for Just Eat, one of the big players in the food takeout and delivery market in Europe. The bid is a hostile one: Just Eat has been in the middle of working on a combination with Takeaway.com, another large competitor in the market; and today Just Eat wasted no time in asking its shareholders to reject the Prosus offer.

“The Board believes that Just Eat is a leading strategic asset in the food delivery sector and the Prosus Offer fails to appropriately reflect the quality of Just Eat and its attractive assets and prospects, the benefits of first mover advantage in a consolidating sector, and the significant future upside available to Just Eat shareholders through remaining invested in Just Eat and the Takeaway.com Combination,” it noted in a statement. “The Board of Just Eat believes that the Takeaway.com Combination is based on a compelling strategic rationale that will deliver a number of strategic benefits and greater value creation to Just Eat shareholders than the terms of the Prosus Offer. Accordingly, the Board of Just Eat continues to unanimously recommend the Takeaway.com Combination to Just Eat shareholders.”

Prosus’ offer, which works out to 710 pence per Just Eat Share, is 20% higher than Takeaway.com’s offer of 594 pence (which itself was at a premium to Just Eat’s share price).

The Takeaway offer has been months in the making and has had a number of twists and turns. The first announcement for a $10 billion merger was made in July, but in the interim Prosus made its first hostile offer, and so the deal switched to a takeover this month in hopes of securing shareholder agreement faster.

At stake for all players is the fact that the delivery business continues to be a fast-growing but very crowded field, with a number of players operating unprofitably and hoping for consolidation in order to improve their economies of scale and margins. If economies of scale and better margins is the rock, the competition is the hard place: all three have a strong and very highly capitalised set of a pair of competitors in the form of Uber Eats and Amazon-backed Deliveroo, with a number of smaller but also fast growing startups continuing to crowd the field.

Just Eat and Takeaway.com have already done some consolidating of other operations. The latter two have gobbled up different parts of DeliveryHero’s European business in recent times. Prosus, meanwhile, has a 22% stake in the remaining DeliveryHero business (outside of Europe), alongside stakes in India’s Swiggy and iFood in Latin America. This would mean that Prosus taking over Just Eat would be less about consolidation of European holdings, which could be one reason why Just Eat is less keen on the idea.

Takeaway.com has also issued a response to the news, noting that it’s the only one of the three that has working on building profitability into the business: it’s currently profitable in the Netherlands, its home market, and is on track to getting there in Germany (a track it believes it can continue with more scale).

“Given the circumstances, I can fully understand that the current cash values of both our and the competing offer aren’t particularly appealing to the Just Eat shareholders, and seem to be quite far removed from the fair value of Just Eat. We do however believe that the agreed merger ratio between Just Eat and Takeaway.com is appropriate,” noted Jitse Groen, CEO of Takeaway.com, in a statement. “Takeaway.com now operates in two out of the world’s four major profit pools. Including the UK, the Just Eat Takeaway.com combination will therefore operate in three out of the four major profit pools globally available. This in stark contrast with most other food delivery websites, which are loss-making, and in our opinion, will likely never become profitable.”

It seems that Naspers’ Prosus says that this is its last and final offer for Just Eat, but this is unlikely to be the final word on how food delivery and takeout will play out in Europe (or globally).

The market is still largely operating in the red globally — and even the most established players, like GrubHub, are not seeing much stability. And with about half a dozen giant players operating in different markets, and lots of capital riding on each of them, we’ll be seeing a number of deals and product expansions — for example the emergence of more “virtual” kitchens other added services such as restaurant procurement — before it’s all gravy for this industry.

 


0

Deliveroo launches food orders for pick up

14:02 | 11 November

Don’t Deliveroo . The UK-based on-demand food delivery service has expanded into not actually delivering orders by offering users a pick-up option, called ‘Pickup’, as an alternative to paying a delivery fee and waiting in for lunch to arrive.

The new ‘click & collection’ service is live for 700+ eateries in 13 UK cities at launch: Aberdeen, Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Norwich, Nottingham and Edinburgh (Old Town). Restaurant brands signed up in the first wave include Byron, Pizza Express, Pizza Hut, TGI Friday’s, Frankie & Benny’s, Chiquito, Coast to Coast and Giraffe.

Deliveroo says it expects the pick-up service to grow rapidly, reckoning more than 10,000 restaurants will be offering it within the next 12 months — and doing so across the 200 UK towns and cities in which it currently operates. Albeit that’s just a prediction at this stage.

It’s not clear whether it also plans to add the ‘Pickup’ option in its international markets. (We’ve asked and will update if we get more.)

Deliveroo says the pick-up option is intended to widen customer choice with a cheaper option for users willing to collect a meal, potentially helping it to take a bite out of lunch money that could otherwise be spent at a supermarket.

At the same time it’s a way for the company to expand the order pipeline for restaurants that are signed up to its service — and in this scenario it’s acting merely as an ordering layer (but still taking a commission).

While customers picking up their own meals provides an additional revenue stream for Deliveroo’s platform that’s free from any legal or ethical risk attached to the employment status (and/or working conditions) of delivery couriers operating on its platform.

The pick-up option launch is the latest addition to a suite of b2b offerings Deliveroo serves up for signed up eateries.

These include a food procurement service; savings (badged as ‘perks’) on everyday business costs such as energy; a data service to support restaurant expansion; and ‘virtual brands’ — using demand data to feed new or complementary cuisines being offered from a restaurant’s existing kitchen.

Deliveroo says it expects growth for its business to step up sharply — anticipating signing up another 10,000 restaurants in the UK over the next 6 months, which would take the total it’s working with to 30,000.

It operates in 500+ towns and cities across 13 markets in all at this stage, including Australia, Belgium, France, Hong Kong, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait as well as its home market of the UK.

Despite bullish talk of scale, the food delivery space remains highly competitive in many global markets.

This summer Deliveroo announced it was exiting the German market, saying it would refocus resources and investment to accelerate growth and expansion in other markets across Europe and APAC.

In Europe consolidation has been the name of the recent game — with dominant platforms under pressure to increase choice and service offering to try to maintain an edge in key markets.

Fast scaling in one market may be at the expense of any business at all in another.

Expansion into adjacent delivery markets is another strategy we’re seeing from regional on-demand delivery startups.

For example Spain’s Glovo is working on a ‘dark supermarkets’ model to fuel high speed local grocery deliveries, while also dabbling in regional expansion on the food delivery front, with a major push via acquisition into Poland.

 


0

Glovo is opening a tech hub in Poland after gobbling a local food delivery rival

16:08 | 6 November

Barcelona-based on-demand delivery startup Glovo is beefing up its engineering capacity by opening a second tech hub, its first in Poland — with an initial plan to hire 40 additional engineers and have a total of 50 tech and product experts working predominantly out of its Warsaw office.

Glovo says it expects the Polish engineering hub to make up half of its technology capacity in time. It will have a main focus on developing user-facing features for its marketplace product and for partners operating on the platform, it adds.

It also has plans for further expansion of the facility down the line — and an overarching roadmap for its business of a 300-strong engineering team to support building out its on-demand service offering.

Its pitch is “everything” delivered on-demand, from fast food to groceries or pharmaceuticals, so long as it’s small and light enough to be handled by one of the couriers picking up jobs on its platform.

While there’s little doubt that fast food makes up the bulk of Glovo orders right now the startup has been trying to push into online grocery deliveries, to compete with giants like Amazon — including setting up its own warehouses capable of fulfilling orders within 20 minutes, 24 hours a day. (It calls these ‘dark supermarkets’ SuperGlovo — ‘super’ meaning ‘supermarket’ in Spanish. Though its ‘dark’ model has also attracted attention from Barcelona City Council for lacking a correct permit.)

In August Spanish media reported that Glovo had itself been shopping — picking up Polish food delivery platform, Pizza Portal, for an acquisition price-tag that’s billed as up to €35M (~$39M).

Glovo raised a $169M Series D back in April which included investment from Drake, owner of global pizza franchise Papa John’s — giving it the means and the motive to gobble smaller rivals in the food delivery space.

Poland being one of its existing markets in Europe. (Albeit Pizza Portal offers various types of fast food for delivery, not just pizza.)

In all, Glovo operates in more than 20 countries at this stage, though its densest markets of operation remain its home market of Spain and also Italy.

In Poland it operates in just eight cities — so the Pizza Portal acquisition looks intended to beef up its footprint there, with the latter slated as the largest food-service platform in the market — even as Glovo doubles down on expanding its engineering capacity by tapping up local tech talent.

At the same time, competition for on-demand delivery, and especially food delivery, remains fierce in Europe where a number of players — including the likes of Deliveroo, JustEat and Uber Eats, are battling it out for territory. And, in some instances, consuming each other to carve out a bigger share of lunch in key markets.

Where Glovo doesn’t operate in Europe highlights some of that ongoing food fight, with no offering in Germany or the UK, for instance. Its regional strategy focuses on the South and East. It has also been building up an international business, opening in markets in LatAm and the Middle East and Africa.

Scaling fast is certainly core to Glovo’s playbook, though. It says it launched in a new city every four days on average last year, while the 2015-founded startup now employs over 1,300 people in all.

Glovo founder Oscar Pierre will be joining us at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin in December to chat about growing an on-demand delivery business — you can find out more about Disrupt conference passes here

 


0

‘Cloud kitchens’ is an oxymoron

19:16 | 17 October

The biggest wave in consumer products right now has all the hallmarks of another bubble of misplaced investor expectations and sadly lower margins.

Cloud kitchens (the category, and not just CloudKitchens the startup service) is essentially WeWork for restaurant kitchens. Instead of buying an expensive restaurant site on a heavily-walked street, a cloud kitchen is developed in a cheaper locale (an industrial district perhaps), with dozens of kitchen stations that are individually rentable for short periods of time by chefs and restaurant proprietors.

It’s a market that has exploded this year. CloudKitchens, which has been funded by former Uber founder and CEO Travis Kalanick, is perhaps the most well-known example, but others are competing, and none more so than meal delivery companies. DoorDash announced that it was opening a shared kitchen in Redwood City just this week, Amazon has announced it is getting in the game, and around the world, companies like India-based transportation network Ola are building out their own shared kitchens.

That has led to laudatory headlines galore. Mike Isaac and David Yaffe-Bellany talk about “the rise of the virtual restaurant” at the New York Times, while Douglas Bell, contributing to Forbes, wrote that “Deliveroo’s Virtual Restaurant Model Will Eat The Food Service Industry.”

And there are not just headlines, but predictions of doom as well for millions of small-business restaurant owners. Mike Moritz, the famed partner at Sequoia, wrote in the Financial Times earlier this year that:

The large chain restaurants that operate pick-up locations will be insulated from many of these services, as will the high-end restaurants that offer memorable experiences. But the local trattoria, taqueria, curry shop and sushi bar will be pressed to stay in business.

Latent in these pieces (there are dozens of them published on the web) lies a superficial storyline that’s appealing to the bright but not detail-oriented: that there are high software margins (or ‘cloud’ margins if you will) to come from a world in which kitchen space is suddenly shareable, and that’s going to lead to a complete disruption of restaurants as we know them.

It’s the same sort of storyline that propelled WeWork to meteoric heights before eventually crashing the last few weeks back down to reality. As Jesse Hempel wrote in Wired a few years ago about the shareable office startup: “Over time, this could be a much bigger opportunity than coworking spaces, one in which everything WeWork has built so far will simply feed an algorithm that will design a perfectly efficient approach to office space.”

Clearly, the AI algorithm for office efficiency (“WeWork Brain”?) wasn’t as profitable as hoped, with WeWork expected to lay off 500 software engineers in the coming weeks.

And yet despite the seeming collapse of WeWork and the destruction of its narrative, we still haven’t learned our lesson. As Isaac and Yaffe-Bellany discuss in their NYT piece, “No longer must restaurateurs rent space for a dining room. All they need is a kitchen — or even just part of one.” Now I know what the two mean here, but let’s be uncharitable for a moment: you can’t rent a part of a kitchen. No one rents the stovetop and not the prep area.

But it is that quickly slippery logic that can cause an entire industry to rise and eventually crumble. Just as with the whole “WeWork should really be valued as a software company” meme, the term ‘cloud kitchens’ implies the flexibility (and I guess margins?) of data centers, when in reality, they couldn’t be further away in practice from them. Commercial kitchens require regulatory licenses and inspections, constant monitoring and maintenance, not to mention massive kitchen staffs (they aren’t automated kitchens!).

So let’s look at how margins and leverage play out for the different players. If you are the owner of one of these cloud kitchens, how exactly do you get any pricing leverage in the marketplace? Isaac and Yaffe-Bellany again write, “Diners who order from the apps may have no idea that the restaurant doesn’t physically exist.”

That sounds plausible, but if consumers don’t know where these restaurants physically are, what is stopping an owner from switching its kitchen to another ‘cloud’? In fact, why not just switch regularly and force a constant bidding war between different clouds? Unlike actual cloud infrastructure, where switching costs are often extremely prohibitive, the switching costs in kitchens seems rather minimal, perhaps as simple as packing up a box or two of ingredients and walking down the street.

That’s why we are seeing almost no innovation coming from early-stage startups in this space. Deliveroo, Uber Eats, DoorDash, Ola, and more — let alone Amazon — are hardly under-funded startups.

In fact, this supposed rise of the cloud kitchen gets at the real crux of the matter: the true ‘expense’ of restaurants isn’t rent or labor, but in fact is really marketing: how do you acquire and retain customers in one of the most competitive industries around?

Isaac and Yaffe-Bellany argue that restaurants will join these meal delivery platforms to market their foods. “…[T]hey can hang a shingle inside a meal-delivery app and market their food to the app’s customers, without the hassle and expense of hiring waiters or paying for furniture and tablecloths.”

Let me tell you from the world of media: relying on other platforms to own your customers on your behalf and wait for ‘traffic’ is a losing proposition, and one that I expect the vast majority of restaurant entrepreneurs to grok pretty quickly.

Instead, it’s the meal delivery companies themselves that will take advantage of this infrastructure, an admission that actually says something provocative about their business models: that they are essentially inter-changeable, and the only way to get margin leverage in the industry is to market and sell their own private-label brands.

For example, I get the same food delivered from the same restaurants regularly, but change the service based on which coupon is best this week (for me, that’s Uber Eats, which offered me $100 if I spent it by Friday). That inter-changeability makes it hard to build a durable, profitable business. Uber Eats, for instance, is expected to be unprofitable for another half decade or more, while GrubHub’s profit margins remain mired in the single digits.

The great hope for these companies is that cloud kitchens can fill the hole in the accounting math. Private brands drive large profits to grocery stores due to their higher margins, and the hope is that an Uber Burger or a DoorDash Pizza might do the same.

The question, of course, is whether consumers “just want food” or whether they specifically want the pad thai from that restaurant down the street they love because it is raining and they don’t want to walk to it. Food brands have a prodigiously long gestation period, since food choices are deeply personal and take time to shift. Just because these meal delivery platforms start offering a burger or a rice bowl doesn’t suddenly mean that consumers are going to flock to those options.

All of which takes us back to those misplaced investor expectations. Cloud kitchens is an interesting concept, and I have no doubt that we will see these sorts of business models for kitchens sprout up across urban cities as an option for some restaurant owners. I’m also sure that there will be at least one digital-only brand that becomes successful and is mentioned in every virtual restaurant article going forward as proof that this model is going to upend the restaurant industry.

But the reality is that none of the players here — not the cloud kitchen owners themselves, not the restaurant owners, and not the meal delivery platforms — are going to transform their margin structures with this approach. Cloud kitchens is just adding more competition to one of most competitive industries in the world, and that isn’t a path to leverage.

 


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Deliveroo is exiting the German market

15:04 | 12 August

UK on-demand food delivery startup Deliveroo is pulling the plug on its service in Germany.

The startup expanded into the market more than four years ago. But in an email sent to users it writes that — “regrettably” — it will be exiting Germany on August 16.

“This was not an easy decision and one we have not taken lightly,” it adds, saying its focus will be on “growing our operations in other markets around the world”.

deliveroo german goodbye email

The company had already dialled back service in the market, shuttering services in a number of smaller German cities a year ago. At the time it said it would focus on Berlin, Munich, Cologne, Hamburg and Frankfurt.

A spokesperson for Deliveroo confirmed it’s complete exit from Germany, emailing TechCrunch the following statement:

We want to thank all of the riders and restaurants who worked with Deliveroo in Germany, as well our wonderful customers. It has been an honour to serve so many people amazing food from Germany’s many great restaurants and to work with so many brilliant, hard-working riders. We are grateful to our extremely talented employees for their commitment to bringing fantastic foods to people’s homes, and they will be supported in this period. Deliveroo will continue to grow and invest in markets across the world, seeking to become the world’s definitive food company.

The spokesperson added that Deliveroo intends to refocus resources and investment to accelerate growth and expansion in other markets across Europe and APAC — without specifying exactly where it plans to focus.

Support for riders and affected employees will include unknown levels of compensation and goodwill packages, according to information provided by Deliveroo.

It also said it does not ruling out returning to Germany in future, albeit it expressed a similar sentiment when it downsized its service footprint in the market last year.

At the time of its launch into Germany, back in April 2015, we wrote that Deliveroo would face “stiff competition”, noting for example that Berlin was already host to a range of local food delivery startups.

Competition in the on-demand food delivery space in Europe has raged fiercely for years — with very little to distinguish one delivery app from another, aside from price. Switching service is always just an app tap away.  But with consolidation now starting to eat into the market the temperature is rising.

At the end of last year another Deliveroo rival, Delivery Hero, ceded its entire business in Germany to Netherlands-based Takeaway.com — selling the unit for €930M.

While, late last month, UK-based Just Eat and Takeaway.com announced they were in advanced talks to combine their businesses. Their boards reached agreement on terms last week — with the deal set to be put to their respective shareholders before the end of the year.

Most likely that mega-merger is concentrating minds at Deliveroo. Competing for customers with a platform giant valued at $10BN+ certainly does not sound like a cake walk.

TechCrunch’s Steve O’Hear contributed to this report 

 


0

Review of UK migration rules calls for more dev jobs to be fast-tracked

15:44 | 29 May

A public body that advises the UK government on immigration policy has recommended including more programming and software development jobs on the shortages occupation list which would make it easier for employers to bring in skilled tech talent from outside the European Union .

In a review of the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) published today by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), it advocates broadening the list to include all roles related to programming and software development, as well as suggesting web designers as a new addition — recognising the difficulty UK employers can have filling such roles.

The current SOL does include some IT jobs but more tightly defines those roles considered to be in shortage — and therefore to qualify for relative fast tracking through the immigration system.

The MAC’s proposed expansion of the SOL means it would cover some 9% of jobs in the UK labour market vs what is currently around 1%. It does not solely focus on tech jobs, with veterinarians, architects and health workers among the other occupations also recommended for inclusion.

In another recommendation the MAC suggests the removal of a condition restricting the recruitment of chefs via the SOL if they work at an establishment that offers a take-away service — perhaps a sign of the on-demand times, when startups like Deliveroo and JustEat have been expanding the pipeline of eateries that serve up take-out.

“Today’s labour market is very different to the one we reviewed when the last SOL was published in 2013,” writes MAC chair, professor Alan Manning, in a statement. “Unemployment is lower and employers in various industries are facing difficulties in finding skilled people to fill their vacancies. That is why we have recommended expanding the SOL to cover a range of occupations in health, information and engineering fields.”

If a job vacancy is on the SOL it means UK employers don’t need to run a resident labor market test, where they are required to advertise the role to the settled workforce for a set period of time and retain proof that they have done so — a process that adds bureaucracy, delay and cost to hiring migrants, as well as increasing compliance risk.

It also allows for lower wages to be paid vs roles not on the SOL. Shortage jobs are also prioritized vs non-SOL jobs which means they can be less affected by any binding immigration cap (i.e. because the monthly visa quota has been exceeded).

So the widening of programming roles on the SOL could be a boon for UK startups looking to expand their talent base — at least if the government moves quickly to implement the recommendations.

“We are grateful to the Migration Advisory Committee for a very comprehensive report. We will consider it carefully and respond in due course,” a Home Office spokesperson told us when asked for its response and any timeline for implementing the changes.

That said, even if the MAC’s recommendations are implemented quickly they are only likely be a stop-gap because the government has signalled its intent to move to a single points-based immigration system, post-brexit, once the UK has left the EU — publishing a white paper about the planned future skills-based system at the back end of last year. (At that point envisaging the new system would apply from 2021.)

The MAC notes that the revised SOL it’s now recommending would need to be looked at again to mesh with that future system.

“Our recommendations are clearly only applicable under the current immigration system, while EU free movement remains,” writes Manning. “We are recommending a full review of the SOL once there is a clearer picture of what the future immigration system will look like.”

So even with what looks like a little recruitment relief coming down the pipe for UK startups worried about filling skilled vacancies, the country’s immigration rules remain fogged by ongoing brexit uncertainty and the unknown parameters that will apply in a future system when both non-EU and EU migrants will be squeezed through the same government-controlled funnel.

 


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Daily Crunch: Amazon backs Deliveroo

19:14 | 17 May

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. Amazon leads $575M investment in Deliveroo

Amazon is taking a slice of Europe’s food delivery market by leading a $575 million investment in Deliveroo.

London-based Deliveroo operates in 14 countries, including the U.K., France, Germany and Spain, and — outside of Europe — Singapore, Taiwan, Australia and the UAE. Across those markets, it claims it works with 80,000 restaurants with a fleet of 60,000 delivery people and 2,500 permanent employees.

2. A year after outcry, carriers are finally stopping sale of location data, letters to FCC show

Reports emerged a year ago that all the major cellular carriers in the U.S. were selling location data to third-party companies, which in turn sold them to pretty much anyone willing to pay. New letters published by the FCC show that despite a year of scrutiny and anger, the carriers have only recently put an end to this practice.

3. Trump’s Huawei ban ‘wins’ one trade battle, but the US may lose the networking war

While U.S. government officials celebrate what they must consider to be a win in their battle against the low-cost, high-performance networking vendor Huawei and other Chinese hardware manufacturers, the country is at risk of falling seriously behind in the broader competition.

4. Apple & Google celebrate Global Accessibility Awareness Day with featured apps, new shortcuts

Apple celebrated Global Accessibility Awareness Day by rolling out a practical, accessibility focused collection of new Siri Shortcuts, alongside accessibility focused App Store features and collections. Google did something similar for Android users on Google Play.

5. Minecraft Earth makes the whole real world your very own blocky realm

The team at Minecraft is making its biggest leap yet — to a real-world augmented reality game in the vein of Pokémon GO, called Minecraft Earth.

6. Stack Overflow confirms breach, but customer data said to be unaffected

“We discovered and investigated the extent of the access and are addressing all known vulnerabilities,” VP of Engineering Mary Ferguson wrote. “We have not identified any breach of customer or user data.”

7. How startups can use Amazon’s SEO best practices to dominate new shopping verticals

Eli Schwartz argues that retailers in nascent verticals have an opportunity to follow Amazon’s SEO playbook and become the default ranking e-commerce website. (Extra Crunch membership required.)

 


0

MP Tom Watson wants UK competition authority to investigate Amazon’s Deliveroo stake

16:22 | 17 May

European restaurant delivery giant Deliveroo this morning announced that Amazon would be gobbling up a share in the company, by leading a new $575 million round of funding in it. But it looks like the e-commerce giant may be facing a little indigestion ahead.

Tom Watson, MP and deputy leader of the Labour Party, today announced that he will be asking the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to investigate the investment, opening the door to either imposing stronger conditions on the deal, or blocking it outright.

“It’s called surveillance capitalism,” he said today of Amazon’s approach to how it uses data from customers to build and sell products. “It’s a digital dystopia, and I shall be writing to the Competition and Markets Authority demanding they launch an investigation into this ‘investment.'”

We have contacted Watson directly to elaborate on which violation(s) he would cite in the referral and we will update as and when we hear back. Areas that the CMA might investigate could involve whether the deal would result in unfair competition, or a misuse of data.

Watson’s announcement came via a

, in which he laid out his concerns in more detail. His words are a concise take on the key to Amazon’s business model: its focus on Deliveroo is not just to invest in new services to expand its e-commerce and logistics business, but to leverage the data generated in one operation to grow other parts of its business, too.

“Deliveroo’s CEO Will Shu welcomes a land grab by Amazon because ‘it is such a customer-obsessed organisation,'” he said, citing an interview Shu gave to the BBC about the investment. “He’s right, Amazon is obsessed. Obsessed with tracking tools, micro-targeted ads, extracting billions through monetising our personal data.

“They don’t want to get their mighty claws on a food delivery system. They want Deliveroo’s tech and data. They don’t just want to know how you eat, what you eat, when you eat. They want to know how best to extract your cash throughout your waking and sleeping hours.”

The CMA — and regulators in general — have had a mixed record when it comes to putting the foot down on large deals. On one hand, in the past European reguators approved major takeovers by Facebook of Instagram and Whatsapp — takeovers that now many are now questioning. On the other, it recently moved to block a $10 billion acquisition of Walmart’s ASDA by Sainsbury’s — effectively kicking the deal into touch.

The difference between these past cases and Amazon/Deliveroo is that the latter is an investment rather than an outright acquisition. However, there is an argument to be made that one can lead to the other, specifically in this case.

In September 2018, it was reported that Amazon had made at least two attempts to acquire Deliveroo, around the same time that Uber was also considering a bid for the company to bolster its Uber Eats business. (Deliveroo and Uber Eats have been in protracted competition to dominate higher-end, app-based food delivery services in key cities like London.)

At the time, Deliveroo was valued at around $2 billion; its valuation now is likely to be closer to $3 billion.

It’s worth pointing out too that another major acquisition that Amazon has made in Europe, of LoveFilm (to build eventually its Netflix competitor Amazon Prime Video), also started with an investment.

Amazon has had mixed success so far when it comes to food in London: it launched Amazon Restaurants in 2016 as one of the first markets for its move into food delivery, but closed it in 2018 (this is reportedly around the time that it first started to take an interest in Deliveroo).

Amazon has meanwhile been gradually expanding Amazon Fresh, Amazon Pantry and other grocery delivery in the UK, but has yet to really utilise its relatively recent ownership of Whole Foods to expand that business beyond a few retail locations in London.

In the UK, there have also been rumors that Amazon has considered snapping up real estate from failing brick-and-mortar superstores, although so far nothing has materialised.

In that context, a stake in Deliveroo could well be one development in what is a very long-term play for Amazon, a company known for pulling off tenacious, long-term plays. Whether the CMA chooses to investigate both the deal as well as that wider context will be an interesting one to chew on.

 


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Amazon leads $575M investment in Deliveroo

09:53 | 17 May

Amazon is taking a slice of Europe’s food delivery market after the U.S. e-commerce giant led a $575 million investment in Deliveroo .

First reported by Sky yesterday, the Series G round was confirmed in an early UK morning announcement from Deliveroo, which confirmed that existing backers including T. Rowe Price, Fidelity Management and Research Company, and Greenoaks also took part. The deal takes Deliveroo to just over $1.5 billion raised to date. The company was valued at over $2 billion following its previous raise in late 2017, no updated valuation was provided today.

London-based Deliveroo operates in 14 countries, including the U.K, France, Germany and Spain, and — outside of Europe — Singapore, Taiwan, Australia and the UAE. Across those markets, it claims it works with 80,000 restaurants with a fleet of 60,000 delivery people and 2,500 permanent employees.

It isn’t immediately clear how Amazon plans to use its new strategic relationship with Deliveroo — it could, for example, integrate it with Prime membership — but this isn’t the firm’s first dalliance with food delivery. The U.S. firm closed its Amazon Restaurants UK takeout business last year after it struggled to compete with Deliveroo and Uber Eats. The service remains operational in the U.S, however.

“Amazon has been an inspiration to me personally and to the company, and we look forward to working with such a customer-obsessed organization,” said Deliveroo CEO and founder Will Shu in a statement.

Shu said the new money will go towards initiatives that include growing Deliveroo’s London-based engineering team, expanding its reach and focusing on new products, including cloud kitchens that can cook up delivery meals faster and more cost-efficiently.

[Center] Will Shu, Deliveroo CEO and co-founder, on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt London

 


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