Starship Technologies CEO Lex Bayer on focus and opportunity in autonomous delivery – gpgmail


Starship Technologies is fresh off a recent $40 million funding round, and the robotics startup finds itself in a much-changed market compared to when it got its start in 2014. Founded by software industry veterans including Skype and Rdio co-founder Janis Friis, Starship’s focus is entirely on building and commercialization fleets of autonomous sidewalk delivery robots.

Starship invented this category when it debuted, but five years later it’s one of a number of companies looking to deploy what essentially amounts to wheeled, self-driven coolers that can carry small packages and everyday freight including fresh food to waiting customers. CEO Lex Bayer, a former sales leader from Airbnb, took over the top spot at Starship last year and is eager to focus the company’s efforts in a drive to take full advantage of its technology and experience lead.

The result is transforming what looked, to all external observers, like a long tail technology play into a thriving commercial enterprise.

“We want to do 100 universities in the next 24 months, and we’ll do about 25 to 50 robots in each campus,” Bayer said in an interview about his company’s plans for the future.


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Domino’s launches e-bike delivery to compete with UberEats, DoorDash – gpgmail


Domino’s will start using custom electric bikes for pizza delivery through a partnership with Rad Power Bikes, as it aims to become more competitive with on-demand apps like DoorDash, GrubHub and UberEats.

Hundreds of e-bikes will be deployed across corporate-owned stores later this year in Baltimore, Houston, Miami and Salt Lake City, the company said Tuesday.

The e-bike announcement comes as Domino’s, which specializes in pizza, faces increasing competition from on-demand delivery apps like UberEats that offer customers far more choice. Domino’s could never offer enough menu options to compete with DoorDash or UberEats, but it can compete on service and delivery times.

The e-bikes are part of that plan. The company has also partnered with companies like Ford to test pizza delivery using autonomous vehicles. Earlier this summer, it launched a new pilot for self-driving pizza delivery in Houston in partnership with Nuro. Domino’s will use Nuro’s R2 vehicle, its second-generation autonomous electric test car, which will go into service later this year.

The e-bikes supplied by Rad Power Bikes are equipped with small integrated motors to assist with pedaling, and can run for 25 to 40 miles, depending on the user, before needing a recharge, according to the company. The bikes are equipped with lights in the front and back, reflective materials for driver safety and have a top assisted speed of 20 miles per hour.

Importantly, the e-bikes have been customized to hold pizza, drinks and sides. One e-bike can hold up to 12 large pizzas.

The company tested the e-bikes and discovered that service and delivery times improved, Tom Curtis, Domino’s executive vice president of corporate operations, said in the announcement. The e-bikes also opened up the labor pool for the company, allowing it to tap into candidates who might not have a car or driver’s license.

Some franchisee owners were already using e-bikes and found they are essential in hilly urban areas.

“While delivery on a traditional bike solved many of our traffic and parking issues, the hills in Seattle were tough on even our best cyclists,” Greg Keller, Seattle Domino’s franchisee said in a press release announcing the e-bike program. “E-bikes were a game-changer for us, and we’ve been delivering with them for three years now. We have been able to save money, provide better service, increase hiring and maintain a happy workforce.”


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Deliveroo is exiting the German market – gpgmail


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”.

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 gpgmail 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. Update: The company has now provided more detail of the compensation, saying riders who have been active in the past 12 weeks will receive the following goodwill payments:

  • A goodwill payment of 10 days’ pay, based on their average weekly earnings over the past 12 weeks

  • Another goodwill payment of 2 weeks’ pay, based on their average weekly earnings over the past 12 weeks

Any outstanding fees will also be paid to riders.

Employees who are being terminated will receive their statutory notice plus a further payment — either of two weeks’ pay for those who have been at the company for up to a year, or one month’s pay for each year of employment for those who have been at the company for more than a year.

Deliveroo has also said it does not rule 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.

gpgmail’s Steve O’Hear contributed to this report 


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Just Eat and Takeaway.com reach agreement to gobble each other – gpgmail


The boards of Just Eat and Takeaway.com have reached agreement to combine their two European food delivery businesses.

The pair of publicly listed companies announced they were in talks to combine their businesses a week ago, saying then that talks were at an advanced stage.

Today they said their boards have reached agreement on the terms of “a recommended all-share combination”, and both will be recommending unanimously that shareholders vote in favor of the merger at respective meetings.

Meetings to seek shareholder approval are to be held no later than 20 December, and the pair say they expect the merger to be completed in Q4, assuming shareholders give the green light.

“The Combination would create one of the largest food delivery companies in the world, with scale, strategic vision, industry-leading capabilities, leading positions in attractive markets and a diversified geographic presence,” they write in today’s note, adding that the merger has “compelling strategic logic” and represents “an attractive opportunity” for both to build on “the strong individual platforms of Just Eat and Takeaway.com with the potential to deliver substantial benefits to respective shareholders, consumers,  employees and other stakeholders”.

Commenting in a statement, Jitse Groen, CEO of Takeaway.com, also said: “The Combination of Just Eat and Takeaway.com creates one of the world’s largest and most powerful food delivery websites. It will become a formidable company that will make an impact on tens of millions of consumers across the globe; it will be at the forefront of product and tech development in the sector, and it will lead the way in its relationship with its consumers, restaurant partners, its staff, and its delivery drivers. It is a dreamed combination, created by the sector’s dream team, and I can only be grateful for the opportunity of leading it.”

In another supporting statement, Just Eat’s chairman Mike Evans added: “The Board believes that this is a compelling offer for Just Eat shareholders which will create a global leader in a dynamic and rapidly growing sector. Our businesses have a shared philosophy and culture, and together we will create one of the world’s largest online food delivery platforms with leading positions in key markets. With a significant commitment to the UK and to the employees of Just Eat, we believe the new combination and proven leadership team will allow us to better serve our millions of consumers and thousands of restaurant partners around the world. Just Eat will be a driving force in the creation of an exciting global leader and I am looking forward to working with Jitse and the talented Takeaway.com team to seize this opportunity together.”

Under the agreed terms, Just Eat shareholders will be entitled to receive 0.09744 Takeaway.com shares for each Just Eat share which they state implies a value for Just Eat of 731 pence per Just Eat share based on Takeaway.com’s closing share price on 26 July 2019 of €83.55 — representing a premium of 15% to Just Eat’s closing share price on 26 July 2019 (ahead head of the announcement of the merger talks).

While, following completion, Just Eat Shareholders will own approximately 52.15% and Takeaway.com Shareholders will own approximately 47.85% of the combined group — which is set to be called Just Eat Takeaway.com N.V., and will be headquartered in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands.

The pair say the current intention is to maintain “a number” of Just Eat’s current headquarter functions in London (they do not state how many or which), and “a significant part of its operations in the United Kingdom, including its existing operations in London, Borehamwood and Bristol”.

“A full assessment of the Combined Group’s other locations has not yet been conducted, and as a result, there are no specific plans in relation to these other locations,” they add.

A two-tier board structure is planned for the merged entity, with a management board and supervisory board, both of which will comprise a mix of members from the Takeaway.com boards and from the Just Eat board — including current Takeaway.com CEO Groen assuming the role of CEO of the combined group and Paul Harrison, the current CFO of Just Eat, taking up the CFO role for the merged entity, while Takeaway.com’s current CFO, Brent Wissink, will become co-COO of the combined group, along with Takeaway.com’s current COO Jörg Gerbig.

For the supervisory board, the plan is for current Just Eat chairman Evans to take the chairman role, while Adriaan Nühn, currently the chairman of the Takeaway.com supervisory board, will be vice-chairman and senior independent non-executive director.

The supervisory board will also comprise three independent non-executive members identified by Just Eat and two non-executive members identified by Takeaway.com.

The pair say approval will be sought for the listing and admission to trading of the enlarged share capital of the Combined Group on the Premium Segment of the London Stock Exchange’s Main Market for listed securities; and of the new Takeaway.com shares on Euronext Amsterdam; and inclusion of the Combined Group in the FTSE 100 Index and FTSE All-Share Index.

“Based on initial discussions with FTSE, Takeaway.com and Just Eat anticipate that the Combined Group would be eligible for inclusion in the FTSE 100 Index and the FTSE All-Share Index from completion of the Combination,” they add.


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