Reception at Instacart's office in San Francisco. Courtesy of Instacart.
This article has been updated to reflect the July 8 announcement of Instacart's new CEO. A previous version of this article was published June 24.
Instacart has been gearing up for a rumored public listing, and has spent the first quarter of this year quietly building up a team of seasoned executives to make sure it’s ready.
Founder Apoorva Mehta announced on July 8 that he would be stepping down from CEO and into a new role of Executive Chairman and that Facebook veteran Fidji Simo will be replacing him. Her role becomes effective August 2.
Her move away from Facebook signals just how powerful of a player Instacart has become in successfully pulling top executives from all over the tech industry.
The grocery delivery startup recently raised $265 million in funding from Andresseen Horowitz and Sequoia Capital, giving it an estimated value of $39 billion. Over the past year Instacart saw exponential growth, mainly as it served as a lifeline for many to access groceries safely online during the pandemic.
With rumors swirling for a public listing in the fourth quarter of this year, Instacart has pulled in new team members from some of the biggest names in tech, such as Facebook, Google, Uber, to build an impressive leadership team to help guide it through its next chapter.
Founders Apoorva Mehta, Brandon Leonardo and Max Mullen started the company in San Francisco in 2012 as participants in Y Combinator. The company didn’t get an official CTO until Mark Schaaf joined in 2018, when Instacart made a goal to double its engineering team in size by 2019.
Just two years ago, the startup was losing $25 million every month. But after a surge in demand during the pandemic, it added 300,000 new riders in just eight weeks and saw its first profitable quarter in April 2020. By the end of the year Instacart had passed $1.5 billion in revenue, with $35 billion in sales.
After experiencing this explosive growth, Instacart started looking to expand out its executive team. Much of the current C-suite and operations team arrived in the past few months, including its next chief executive.
Incoming CEO Fidji Simo currently serves as the Head of Facebook's app. There she led the developemnt and strategy for the News Feed, Stories, Groups, Video, Marketplace, Gaming, News, Dating, Ads and more. She's been with the tech giant since 2011 and has worked her way to be one of the most powerful women leaders in the company.
Simo is somewhat of a veteran at Facebook. She's been with the company since its first 1,000 employees to its current 100,000. She also was part of the transitioning process of taking Facebook from private to public, a key skill to have as Instacart looks to do the same this year. Simo joined Instacart's Board of Directors in January 2021, and according to Mehta, the two have developed a close relationship.
"I’ve been blown away by her capabilities as a leader," Mehta says in a company blog post. "We’ve spent hundreds of hours together, talking about everything from teams and products, to culture, strategy, and vision. It became clear that we both shared an ambitious vision for Instacart’s future. And, the more I reflected on this, the more excited I got about the prospect of bringing Fidji into the company."
Her move to Instacart is just the latest in a string of poached executives to join the company.
CFO Nick Giovanni kicked off the hiring spree in January, joining Instacart after 23 years at Goldman Sachs. At the investment bank, he served in various leadership roles on the technology team, most recently working as Head of Global Technology, Media and Telecom Group.
A month later, COO Asha Sharma joined the team. Sharma is a former VP of Product at Facebook and was hired to oversee the Instacart marketplace, which includes the Instacart app, Instacart logistics, growth and marketing. She’s also held roles in marketing and operations at Microsoft, as well as working as COO at scaling startup Porch.com.
In May, Instacart announced a slew of new hires on Sharma’s team that have racked up since March. Daniel Danker, the former Head of Product for Uber Eats, joined as VP of Product, Shopper & Fulfillment. Longtime Facebook veteran, Max Eulenstein, also joined in the same month as VP of Product, Instacart App. Most recently, Eulenstein was working on growing community and engagement as Senior Director of Product of the Instagram Community.
Also new to Sharma’s team are VP of Product, Retail David McIntosh and Nikila Srinivasan, VP of Product, International. McIntosh was the founder and CEO of Tenor, a Google-acquired GIF search engine and online content marketplace with integrations with apps like Apple iMessage, Google Gboard, Facebook Messenger and Twitter. At Instacart, he will support the 600 national, regional and local retailers in North America and the needs of their customers.
Srinivasan will lead the development of Instacart’s long-game: expanding into markets outside of North America. She also comes from Facebook, where she was instrumental in the social media platform’s presence in global and expanding markets. She was responsible for growing the platform to 180 million small businesses and 10 million advertisers.
To fill a marketing vacancy, Instacart also poached from a leading competitor. Laura Jones, Uber’s Global Head of Marketing for Rides, is joining Sharma’s team as VP of Brand and Marketing. At Uber, Jones was credited with building the product marketing organization. She built a team of over 60 product marketing managers responsible for Uber’s rides, eats and freight businesses.
In her new role, she will look over all of Instacart’s advertising, including creative, brand marketing, media, product marketing and operations.
With an operations team built entirely with seasoned tech and business veterans, Instacart has positioned itself nicely for any potential public listing. But it’s not placing all its bets in its grocery delivery service. In May 2020, Instacart formed its self-service advertising business, which lets brands and agencies create and manage featured product campaigns that appear on its marketplace. It’s already seeing results; the ads business is projected to grow to $1 billion by 2022. Sticking with its usual M.O, Instacart is rumored to be in talks with Carolyn Everson, the former Facebook ads chief who left the social media giant earlier this month, to join the team.
The new business is led by Chief Revenue Officer Seth Dallaire, a former Amazon exec who helped the e-commerce conglomerate build an ads business to compete with the likes of Facebook and Google. With his guidance, Instacart is hoping to do the same. And with the fresh investments and talks to bring in some of the best in the business, major growth certainly isn’t out of the question.
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