Last fall when I reached out to KitchenBowl founder Ryan Waliany about speaking at the Smart Kitchen Summit, he told me he was in the process of acquisition talks for his company, and because of the likelihood that he would be in the middle at the deal at the time, he would have to decline.
Waliany, who told Geekwire the deal sprung out of a cold email sent to ABC Cooking School a year ago, says the new owner of the KitchenBowl assets plans to use it to expand the company’s online presence. ABC, which runs cooking studios in 134 locations in Japan as well as in China, Korea, and Singapore, also sees leveraging what they have with KitchenBowl to create an online community for their students to connect in between classes. KitchenBowl will continue to offer image-heavy recipes but the main focus over time, according to Waliany, will be to convert online visitors to cooking class customers.
Waliany and his team are moving on after what he said was a three month transition period in which he and the KitchenBowl team migrated the product over to ABC. In addition to the sale of the KitchenBowl assets, Waliany also negotiated a deal for his team (outside of co-founder Serena Wu) to go to work at Uber under Andrew Chen. According to Waliany, the move doesn’t mean the rideshare company will be increasing its focus on food or cooking anytime soon, as his team will be working on “core product” and not UberEATS (Chen heads up rider acquisition efforts at Uber). Cofounder Wu, who is Waliany’s spouse, will be leveraging some of the food-related learnings from KitchenBowl at Instacart where she is now a senior product designer.
For Waliany, the experience of selling his company and moving on to Uber is bittersweet, but he sees lots of potential for the product and its impact on cooking education under it’s new owners.
“While it’s hard to part with something that was heavily integrated into our lives, we feel at peace, yet excited with ABC Cooking’s vision,” Waliany told me. “It involves creating a new cooking studio based on our technology and changing cooking education as we know it.”