- Last August, the 36-year-old Indian American transitioned from CEO to his current role after founding the San Francisco-based online delivery giant in 2012.
Instacart founder Apoorva Mehta plans to step down as executive chairman once the San Francisco-based online delivery giant becomes a public company. Mehta will hand the chairperson’s reins to CEO Fidji Simo, who took over last August when he transitioned to the role of executive chairman.
“The decision comes amid a volatile stock market, and for the grocery sector,” MarketWatch reported. “But growth has slowed for Instacart recently, partly as consumers shift back to their pre-pandemic behaviors and competition intensifies,” the report added.
In a series of tweets on July 22, Mehta wrote that he is leaving the company he founded in 2012 “to pursue a new mission with the same singular focus that I had while building Instacart.”
However, it is not clear when the company plans to IPO. According to a MarketWatch report, the company had said in May that “it had confidentially filed for an IPO, less than two months after cutting its valuation by nearly 40 percent.”
The Wall Street Journal, quoting people familiar with the offering, reported at the time that Instacart was positioning itself to go public as early as September.
In 2020, Mehta, 36, entered the coveted list of billionaires. Forbes reported then that Mehta’s addition to the list comes after the San Francisco-based unicorn’s value rose from $7.9 billion to $13.7 billion. A unicorn is a privately held startup company valued at over $1 billion. Forbes estimates that “Mehta owns a 10 percent stake, making him the newest member of the three comma club with a net worth of $1.2 billion.”
He founded Instacart in 2012. The demand for the company’s delivery model has skyrocketed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Citing estimates from Instacart, Forbes reported then that the company’s “order volume has gone up by as much as 500 percent in the past 12 months,” with the average customer spending up to 35 percent more per order.
According to the Forbes report, Instacart has hired 300,000 new shoppers since March and announced plans in April to hire 250,000 more “to get back to offering one-hour and same-day deliveries.”
Mehta was born in India and raised in Canada. He studied engineering at the University of Waterloo and worked as a design engineer at Blackberry and Qualcomm. He moved to Seattle, Washington, to work at Amazon as a supply chain engineer where he worked on Amazon’s Fulfillment Engine “to deliver packages quickly and efficiently to customers,” his LinkedIn profile says.
In a January 2017 interview with the Los Angeles Times, he said that at Amazon, he learned that he “liked to build software, and he wanted to be challenged.” But after two years, he quit his job because he felt he was no longer being challenged. He then moved from Seattle to San Francisco and started trying his hand at entrepreneurship.
Mehta told the Los Angeles Times that he tried his hand at “at least” 20 companies before starting Instacart. He said he tried building an ad network for social gaming companies and spent a year developing a social network specifically for lawyers. “I knew nothing about these topics, but I liked putting myself in a position where I had to learn about an industry and try to solve problems they may or may not have had,” he told the paper. However, none of the companies worked out.
Eventually, Instacart was born in 2012. Although Mehta landed on “a hot idea” and partnered with stores such as Whole Foods, Target and Safeway, the LA Times says that “the expansion of Instacart wasn’t without problems.”
The company was slapped with a class-action lawsuit in 2015, alleging that the workers who shopped for and delivered groceries were misclassified as independent contractors. Instacart eventually made its shoppers part-time employees, with some qualifying for benefits such as health insurance. “We went from having zero part-time employees to having people at thousands of individual store locations,” he said, “We had to figure out scheduling and what kinds of training had to be provided. We needed to figure out a lot of things.”
Instacart has since expanded from San Francisco to more than 5,500 cities and 30,000 stores in North America. The company also launched a prescription delivery service in April 2020 which delivers medications from nearly 200 Costco pharmacies.