DoorDash has acquired salad-making robotic startup Chowbotics, the companies announced Monday. Monetary phrases of the deal weren’t disclosed, however the Chowbotics workforce have all change into DoorDash staff, and the corporate will function independently inside DoorDash.
“We’ve lengthy admired the work that Chowbotics has executed to extend entry to recent meals, with its groundbreaking robotics product and imaginative and prescient,” DoorDash co-founder Stanley Tang stated in assertion emailed to The Verge. “With the Chowbotics workforce on board, we are able to discover new use instances and prospects, offering one other service to assist our retailers develop.”
Chowbotics was based in 2014, and its recent meals robotic Sally — an oblong machine that’s primarily a salad merchandising machine — can create customizable salads, grain and poke bowls, parfaits, cereals, and snacks all inside a small house. The robotic is utilized by corporations like universities, hospitals, and grocery shops, in line with a weblog put up from DoorDash normal supervisor Penn Daniel.
DoorDash at present has the greatest share of the US meals supply market, round 48 %, forward of rivals like UberEats and Grubhub. Its revenue skyrocketed in 2020 as eating places closed in-person eating because of the pandemic and prospects relied on supply providers. However when DoorDash went public late final yr, its IPO was criticized by some analysts as missing in worth; they questioned how DoorDash would have the ability to proceed to develop if demand for meals supply subsides as soon as the pandemic is over.
Analyst David Trainer of New Constructs said at the time, “We expect this proposed public fairness providing holds no worth, $0, past bailing out personal traders earlier than unsuspecting public traders understand the enterprise shouldn’t be viable in its present kind.”
However the Chowbotics acquisition raises attention-grabbing questions on DoorDash’s post-pandemic plans. Daniel wrote within the weblog put up that Chowbotics will enable DoorDash to assist the eating places that use its supply platform increase their choices. It appears probably that Chowbotics’ merchandising machines would match into the ghost kitchen mannequin, that are delivery-only eating places that some in the industry regard warily. DoorDash has a ghost kitchen facility in California, and final yr introduced it was working with Chicago restaurant Krazy Hog — which closed in-person eating in the course of the pandemic — as a part of its Reopen for Delivery initiative.
In case you’re ordering for supply, likelihood is you’d by no means know whether or not your salad was made by a Chowbotics robotic or a human until the restaurant tells you. It’s not unusual for eating places to model their supply operations below a distinct identify — like when some diners found the pizzas they ordered from “Pasqually’s” truly got here from children’ eatery Chuck E. Cheese.