This is the post version of our weekly newsletter. If you’d like to get the weekly Spoon in your inbox, you can subscribe here.
It’s no secret that Amazon Go is expanding at a rapid clip, with cashierless retail locations popping up in Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, and, soon enough, New York City. This week we took a look at the 338 job listings for the Amazon Go team, spanning everything from Creative Director to Senior Vision Research Scientist, including 7 positions in real estate and construction — the majority of which were posted within this month.
Intriguing. Most notable is the sheer amount of investment Amazon is making in engineers for its Go stores, both on the software (130 jobs!) and hardware (44 jobs) side. Though those numbers might seem eye-popping, they’re pretty necessary — Amazon has plans to open 3,000 stores with its walk-in-walk-out technology by 2021, and it needs to expand quickly if it wants to keep its unique value proposition in the food retail space (read: building checkout-free stores from the ground up).
Next up: cashierless Whole Foods? We’ll see, but it seems like just a matter of time.
In other grocery news, yesterday Farmstead raised $2.2 million for its AI-powered grocery strategy. The company originally tried to disrupt the grocery market by creating small “micro-hubs” which carried strategically stocked items, and were placed deep into residential areas.
However, Chris wrote about how the company seems to be moving away from their original business proposition: It’s operating out of a larger facility in San Francisco and recently revealed that it has been running a pilot program delivering groceries with autonomous vehicles. Since the vans are controlled by code, it means that Farmstead can collect buckets of data on its customers orders, location, and more, which can make delivery routes more efficient. More data, fewer problems.
No matter how it moves forward, Farmstead has a boatload of competition: more than $3.5 billion has been invested in food and grocery delivery startups in 2018 alone. And while $2.2 million is certainly a start, Farmstead will have to keep adding to its warchest if it wants a hope of competing against giants like Amazon, Walmart, and Instacart.
When you start in on the subject of futuristic food delivery, it’s not long before somebody mentions drones. This week, restaurant discovery and food delivery app Zomato took some steps towards acquired TechEagle Innovations, a drone developer.
Uber and Amazon are also exploring drone use for delivery, food and otherwise, but regulations around drone operations aren’t clearly defined — yet. Zomato and TechEagle are both based in India, so maybe we’ll see some drone food delivery action there before here in the U.S.
In other news: Chris wrote a great think piece about whether alterna-meats (think: Impossible burgers, plant-based nuggets, vegan fish) will stump smart ovens. He got started on the quandary when he tried to cook a plant-based Beyond burger in his June, which has a built-in HD camera to automatically recognize food you’re cooking, and the oven though it was a real burger. It may not be a pressing issue yet, but if sales of plant-based protein continue their exponential rise connected appliance companies may have to widen their scope to include specialized settings for alterna-meats.
Finally, Michael Wolf wrote about Tupperware’s new design crowdsourcing contest to find a way to use IoT tech to create a next-gen food container. The goal: a container that’s reusable, affordable, and “easy to use but technologically advanced.” In other words, the dream. Most interestingly, Tupperware puts strong emphasis on making products that appeal to the “Silver generation (55+). They’ve got a fair amount of competition in the smart storage space — to learn more about what’s out there, be sure to watch the video of our panel from 2018 Smart Kitchen Summit.
That’s it from me! Have a great weekend and stay warm.
Over and out,
By Michael Wolf on Dec 07, 2018 07:00 am
Every couple months, I go into my fridge and throw out all the forgotten and fuzzy food. It’s a guilt-inducing process – as it should be – and every time I search for those containers with festering science experiments inside I think there has to be a better way. Of course, there is an obvious […]
By Catherine Lamb on Dec 06, 2018 01:44 pm
Amazon Go, the retail store that uses cashierless technology so you can walk in, choose your items, and walk out without stopping to pay, has 338 open listings on its job site (big h/t to Sean Butler). There are a few takeaways from this, but most notable is the sheer amount of investment in engineers on both the […]
By Chris Albrecht on Dec 06, 2018 11:47 am
Restaurant discovery and food delivery app Zomato announced yesterday that it has acquired drone developer and fellow Indian startup, TechEagle Innovations. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Zomato currently works with 75,000 restaurants to deliver food in 100 cities in India. With the TechEagle acquisition, Zomato plans to build out a network for aerial food […]
By Chris Albrecht on Dec 06, 2018 07:28 am
Farmstead, an online grocer that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to predict product demand, today announced that it has raised $2.2 million in venture funding from ARTIS Labs, Resolute Ventures, Y Combinator, Red Dog Capital and other investors. This brings the total amount raised by the company to $7.5 million. Farmstead‘s hook is that its stores […]
By Chris Albrecht on Dec 05, 2018 02:00 pm
One of the benefits of using a connected oven like the June is the fact that the built-in HD camera automatically recognizes the food you’re cooking. Throw in a salmon and the June recognizes it, and helps you cook it perfectly. Even if it doesn’t automatically recognize a food, the touchscreen UI is clear enough […]