Walmart adds four grocery delivery partners

Walmart has partnered with Point Pickup, Skipcart, AxleHire and Roadie to expand its grocery delivery program across four states. Walmart’s grocery delivery is currently available in more than 800 stores, and plans to be in 800 more this year.

To use Walmart’s delivery program, customers go online, place an order and then select a delivery window. From there, Walmart’s personal shoppers select your items and then pass it off to a Walmart delivery partner.

Customers likely won’t notice, or care, which delivery partner shows up to the door with their groceries. All that matters, and all that Walmart is trying to do, is get you your food in a timely manner, wherever you are.

“Customers love our Grocery Delivery service,” Walmart SVP of Digital Operations Tom Ward said in a press release. “As they are busy managing jobs, soccer practice, dance lessons and social schedules we are on a mission to do more than keep a little extra money in their pockets. With the help of these new delivery partners, we’re making grocery shopping even easier by bringing the everyday low prices of Walmart right to the front door of customers.”

Other Walmart grocery delivery partners include Postmates, Deliv, DoorDash and others.

WeWork gets into the food business, backing the superfood startup of big wave surfer Laird Hamilton

WeWork CEO Adam Neumann has been described as an avid surfer, one who has been known to grab his board and go, both in the Hamptons in Long Island, where he reportedly owns a home, as well as in Hawaii.

Maybe it’s no surprise, then, that WeWork is now also investing in a so-called superfood company that was created several years ago by big wave surf star Laird Hamilton, who Neumann was apparently surfing alongside just last week. In a video call with Neumann on Monday, a Fast Company reporter noted that Neumann is currently sporting a cast on one of his fingers, having broken it during the outing.

How much WeWork is investing in the startup, Laird Superfood, is not being disclosed, but according to the food company, the money will be used to fuel product development, acquisitions and to hire more employees. A press release that was published without fanfare earlier today also notes that Laird Superfood products will be made available to WeWork members and employees at select locations soon.

Some of those offerings are certainly interesting, including “performance mushrooms” that it says “harnesses the benefits” of Chaga, a fungus believed by some to stimulate the immune system; Cordyceps, another fungus that’s been used for kidney disorders and erectile dysfunction; and Lion’s Mane, yet another fungus believed by some to stimulate nerve growth in the brain.

The company suggests adding one teaspoon of the mushrooms each day to one’s coffee, tea or health shake.

Laird Superfood also sells beet- and turmeric-infused powdered coconut waters, “ultra-caffeinated” coffee and a variety of coffee creamers, including a mint-flavored creamer and a turmeric-flavored number.

It’s for a very specific consumer, in other words — presumably one who really likes turmeric, for example. Then again, what works for Laird Hamilton will undoubtedly work for a lot of people who’ve watched his decades-long career with amazement.

Hamilton seems to be selling what he actually ingests, too. As he told The Guardian last spring of his own diet: “I love espresso. You could give me five shots of espresso, a quarter stick of butter, a quarter stick of coconut oil and other fat, and I’ll drink that. I could go for five or six hours and not be hungry, because I’m burning fat.”

Organic food startups have been raising money left and right in recent years, including from traditional food companies, as well as from venture investors, who’ve poured billions of dollars into healthy snacks and drinks, with mixed results.

For WeWork’s part, the investment isn’t the first that has seemed somewhat far afield for the company. In one of its more surprising bets to date, WeWork invested in a maker of wave pools in 2016. The size of that funding was also undisclosed.

Meet Caper, the AI self-checkout shopping cart

The Amazon boogie-man has every retailer scrambling for ways to fight back. But the cost and effort to install cameras all over the ceiling or into every shelf could block stores from entering the autonomous shopping era. Caper Labs wants to make eliminating checkout lines as easy as replacing their shopping carts while offering a more familiar experience for customers.

The startup makes a shopping cart with a built-in barcode scanner and credit card swiper, but it’s finalizing the technology to automatically scan items you drop in thanks to three cameras and a weight sensor. The company claims people already buy 18 percent more per visit after stores are equipped with its carts.

Caper’s cart

Today, Caper is revealing that it’s raised a total of $3 million including a $2.15 million seed round led by prestigious First Round Capital and joined by food-focused angels like Instacart co-founder Max Mullen, Plated co-founder Nick Taranto, Jet’s Jetblack shopping concierge co-founder Jenny Fleiss, plus Y Combinator. Caper is now in two retailer in the NYC area, though it plans to use the cash to expand to more and develop a smart shopping basket for smaller stores.

“If you walked in to a grocery store 100 years ago versus today, nothing has really changed” says Caper co-founder and CEO Lindon Gao. “It doesn’t make sense that you can order a cab with your phone or go book a hotel with your phone, but you can’t use your phone to make a payment and leave the store. You still have to stand in line.”

Autonomous retail is going to be a race. $50 million-funded Standard Cognition, ex-Pandora CTO Will Glaser’s Grabango, and scrappier startups like Zippin and Inokyo are all building ceiling and shelf-based camera systems to help merchants keep up with Amazon Go’s expanding empire of cashierless stores. But Caper’s plug-and-play cart-based system might be able to leapfrog its competitors if its easier for shops to set up.

Caper combines image recognition and a weight sensor to identify items without a barcode scan

“I don’t have an altruistic reason to care about retail, but I really want to put a dent in the universe and I think retail is severely under-innovated” Gao candidly remarked. Most founders try to spin a “super hero origin story” about why they’re the right person for the job. For Gao, chasing autonomous retail is just good business. He built is first startup in gaming commerce at age 14. The jewelry company he launched at 19 still operates. He went on to become an investment banker at Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan but “I always felt like I was more of a startup guy.”

Caper was actually a pivot from his previous entry to the space called QueueHop that made cashierless apparel security tags that unlocked when you paid. But during Y Combinator, he discovered how tough it’d be to scale a product that require a complete rethinking of a merchant’s operations flow. So Gao hoofed it around NYC to talk to 150 merchants and discover what they really wanted. The cart was the answer.

Caper co-founder and CEO Lindon Gao

V1 of Caper’s cart lets people scan their items’ barcodes and pay on the cart with a credit card swipe or Apple/Android Pay tap with their receipt emailed to them. But each time they scan, the cart is actually taking 120 photos and precisely weighing the items to train Caper’s machine vision algorithms in what Gao likens to how Tesla is inching towards self-driving.

Soon, Caper wants to go entirely scanless, and sections of its two pilot stores already use the technology. The cameras on the cart will use image recognition matched with weight sensor to identify what you toss in your cart. You shop just like normal but then just pay and leave with no line. Caper pulls in a store’s existing security feed to help detect shoplifting, which could be a bigger risk than with ceiling and shelf camera systems, but Gao says it hasn’t been a problem yet. He woudn’t reveal the price of the carts but said “they’re not that much more expensive than a standard shopping cart. To outfit a store it should be comparable to the price of implementing traditional self-checkout.” Shops buy the carts outright and pay a technology subscriptions but get free hardware upgrades.

Caper hopes to deliver three big benefits to merchants. First, they’ll be able to repurpose cashier labor to assist customers so they buy more and keep shelves stocked, though eventually this technology is likely to eliminate a lot of jobs. Second, the ease and affordable cost of transitioning means businesses will be able to recoup their investment and grow revenues as shoppers buy more. And third, Caper wants to share data its carts collect on routes through the store, shelves customers hover in front of, and more with its retail partners so they can optimize their layouts.

Caper’s screen tracks items you add to the cart and can surface discounts and recommendations

One big advantage over its ceiling and shelf camera competitors is that Caper’s cart can promote deals on nearby or related items. In the future, it plans to add recommendations based on what’s on your cart to help you fill out recipes. ‘Threw some chips in the cart? Here’s where to find the guacamole that’s on sale.’ A smaller hand-held smart basket could broaden Caper’s appeal beyond grocers amongst littler shops.

Gao says that with merchants already seeing sales growth from the carts, what keeps him up at night is handling Caper’s supply chain since the product requires a ton of different component manufacturers. The startup has to move fast if it wants to be what introduces Main Street to autonomous retail. But no matter what gadgets it builds in, Caper must keep sight of the real-world stress their tech will undergo. Gao concludes “We’re basically building a robot here. The carts need to be durable. They need to resist heat, vibration, rain, people slamming them around. We’re building our shopping cart like a tank.”

Alibaba just gave Chinese youth another reason to never leave their desk

People in China have a host of reasons not to go outdoors these days. They may be too busy to leave their office, wary of air pollution or have chosen to live isolated lives. Among them is an expanding young consumer base who prefers to dwell in the virtual world of video games, animes and comics over the tangible reality. More important, there’s an endless list of startups pandering to their impulse to stay indoors with services from online shopping to food delivery.

Two Chinese internet giants are chasing after this indoorsy crowd. Last week, food delivery giant Ele.me announced that it’s teamed up with youth entertainment site Bilibili on a one-off joint membership that will further keep young consumers at their desk.

Ele.me, which means “are you hungry?” in Chinese, was sold to ecommerce behemoth Alibaba in April. Bilibili, which went public in the U.S. this year, started as a video streaming service focused on animes and has evolved into a one-stop destination for all things related to youth cultures: Animes, comics, cosplay, video games and other niches that you and I may fail to name.

Their marriage gives subscribers the best of both worlds: Unlimited streaming of animes and deep discounts on food delivery orders. Bilibili has been doubling down on content investments in recent months, which saw it agree to buy out most of the comics assets of Netease, one of China’s largest internet companies. What’s better than binging on one’s favorite anime series and not having to leave home when the stomach growls? (Whether this is a healthy lifestyle is another topic.)

The promotion, which runs from December 23 to December 30, allows people to purchase the memberships of Bilibili and Ele.me at 25 yuan, or $3.63, a month. That’s a 15 yuan discount from what users would have to pay were they to subscribe to the two services separately. The rationality behind the tie-up is an overlapping Generation Z user base. By 2017, about 82 percent of Bilibili’s users are 8 to 28 years old, according to a report by QuestMobile. Meanwhile, more than 60 percent of the users who order food online in China are under 24 years old.

China’s food delivery market is set to top 243 billion yuan, or $35 billion, by the end of 2018, according to iiMedia. By then, China will have 355 million users of food delivery apps — or about 40 percent of its national population. Five years ago, there were just over 100 million users for this market.

The boom has jacked up the price tags of market leaders Ele.me, which was valued at $9.5 billion in the Alibaba deal, and Tencent-backed Meituan Dianping, which had a spectacular initial public offering in Hong Kong in September.

Alibaba and Bilibili call their joint membership “Zhai E Kuai,” a wordplay on “be otaku together.” The Japanese word “otaku” originally means “someone else’s venerable home” and later took on a new life to describe someone who is so obsessed with a subject or hobby to the point of not leaving home. Bilibili’s core users are often stereotypically described as otakus of animes or video games, though certainly not all of them shun the outside world.

Aside from Bilibili, Alibaba has also been pally with Starbucks as the two began integrating their rewards systems.

Memberships similar to Amazon Prime have become an increasingly popular tactic for China’s tech giants to drive revenue growth. Alibaba, for instance, has lumped services of its portfolio companies under 88 Membership that spans ecommerce (Tmall), fresh produce (Tmall), food delivery (Ele.me), video streaming (Youku), music streaming (Xiami), movie tickets (Taopiaopiao) among others. Tencent has taken a different approach to membership with its King Card mobile internet plan, a partnership with China’s major telco that gives users unlimited data usage on apps in Tencent’s ecosystem — from social networks, video streaming to games.

The limits of coworking

It feels like there’s a WeWork on every street nowadays. Take a walk through midtown Manhattan (please don’t actually) and it might even seem like there are more WeWorks than office buildings.

Consider this an ongoing discussion about Urban Tech, its intersection with regulation, issues of public service, and other complexities that people have full PHDs on. I’m just a bitter, born-and-bred New Yorker trying to figure out why I’ve been stuck in between subway stops for the last 15 minutes, so please reach out with your take on any of these thoughts: @[email protected].

Co-working has permeated cities around the world at an astronomical rate. The rise has been so remarkable that even the headline-dominating SoftBank seems willing to bet the success of its colossal Vision Fund on the shift continuing, having poured billions into WeWork – including a recent $4.4 billion top-up that saw the co-working king’s valuation spike to $45 billion.

And there are no signs of the trend slowing down. With growing frequency, new startups are popping up across cities looking to turn under-utilized brick-and-mortar or commercial space into low-cost co-working options.

It’s a strategy spreading through every type of business from retail – where companies like Workbar have helped retailers offer up portions of their stores – to more niche verticals like parking lots – where companies like Campsyte are transforming empty lots into spaces for outdoor co-working and corporate off-sites. Restaurants and bars might even prove most popular for co-working, with startups like Spacious and KettleSpace turning restaurants that are closed during the day into private co-working space during their off-hours.

Before you know it, a startup will be strapping an Aeron chair to the top of a telephone pole and calling it “WirelessWorking”.

But is there a limit to how far co-working can go? Are all of the storefronts, restaurants and open spaces that line city streets going to be filled with MacBooks, cappuccinos and Moleskine notebooks? That might be too tall a task, even for the movement taking over skyscrapers.

The co-working of everything

Photo: Vasyl Dolmatov / iStock via Getty Images

So why is everyone trying to turn your favorite neighborhood dinner spot into a part-time WeWork in the first place? Co-working offers a particularly compelling use case for under-utilized space.

First, co-working falls under the same general commercial zoning categories as most independent businesses and very little additional infrastructure – outside of a few extra power outlets and some decent WiFi – is required to turn a space into an effective replacement for the often crowded and distracting coffee shops used by price-sensitive, lean, remote, or nomadic workers that make up a growing portion of the workforce.

Thus, businesses can list their space at little-to-no cost, without having to deal with structural layout changes that are more likely to arise when dealing with pop-up solutions or event rentals.

On the supply side, these co-working networks don’t have to purchase leases or make capital improvements to convert each space, and so they’re able to offer more square footage per member at a much lower rate than traditional co-working spaces. Spacious, for example, charges a monthly membership fee of $99-$129 dollars for access to its network of vetted restaurants, which is cheap compared to a WeWork desk, which can cost anywhere from $300-$800 per month in New York City.

Customers realize more affordable co-working alternatives, while tight-margin businesses facing increasing rents for under-utilized property are able to pool resources into a network and access a completely new revenue stream at very little cost. The value proposition is proving to be seriously convincing in initial cities – Spacious told the New York Times, that so many restaurants were applying to join the network on their own volition that only five percent of total applicants were ultimately getting accepted.

Basically, the business model here checks a lot of the boxes for successful marketplaces: Acquisition and transaction friction is low for both customers and suppliers, with both seeing real value that didn’t exist previously. Unit economics seem strong, and vetting on both sides of the market creates trust and community. Finally, there’s an observable network effect whereby suppliers benefit from higher occupancy as more customers join the network, while customers benefit from added flexibility as more locations join the network.

… Or just the co-working of some things

Photo: Caiaimage / Robert Daly via Getty Images

So is this the way of the future? The strategy is really compelling, with a creative solution that offers tremendous value to businesses and workers in major cities. But concerns around the scalability of demand make it difficult to picture this phenomenon becoming ubiquitous across cities or something that reaches the scale of a WeWork or large conventional co-working player.

All these companies seem to be competing for a similar demographic, not only with one another, but also with coffee shops, free workspaces, and other flexible co-working options like Croissant, which provides members with access to unused desks and offices in traditional co-working spaces. Like Spacious and KettleSpace, the spaces on Croissant own the property leases and are already built for co-working, so Croissant can still offer comparatively attractive rates.

The offer seems most compelling for someone that is able to work without a stable location and without the amenities offered in traditional co-working or office spaces, and is also price sensitive enough where they would trade those benefits for a lower price. Yet at the same time, they can’t be too price sensitive, where they would prefer working out of free – or close to free – coffee shops instead of paying a monthly membership fee to avoid the frictions that can come with them.

And it seems unclear whether the problem or solution is as poignant outside of high-density cities – let alone outside of high-density areas of high-density cities.

Without density, is the competition for space or traffic in coffee shops and free workspaces still high enough where it’s worth paying a membership fee for? Would the desire for a private working environment, or for a working community, be enough to incentivize membership alone? And in less-dense and more-sprawl oriented cities, members could also face the risk of having to travel significant distances if space isn’t available in nearby locations.

While the emerging workforce is trending towards more remote, agile and nomadic workers that can do more with less, it’s less certain how many will actually fit the profile that opts out of both more costly but stable traditional workspaces, as well as potentially frustrating but free alternatives. And if the lack of density does prove to be an issue, how many of those workers will live in hyper-dense areas, especially if they are price-sensitive and can work and live anywhere?

To be clear, I’m not saying the companies won’t see significant growth – in fact, I think they will. But will the trend of monetizing unused space through co-working come to permeate cities everywhere and do so with meaningful occupancy? Maybe not. That said, there is still a sizable and growing demographic that need these solutions and the value proposition is significant in many major urban areas.

The companies are creating real value, creating more efficient use of wasted space, and fixing a supply-demand issue. And the cultural value of even modestly helping independent businesses keep the lights on seems to outweigh the cultural “damage” some may fear in turning them into part-time co-working spaces.

And lastly, some reading while in transit:

Instacart and Amazon-owned Whole Foods are parting ways

Instacart has announced this morning it will no longer be doing business with Whole Foods, a U.S. organic grocery chain the company launched a partnership with in 2014. This comes roughly one year after Amazon closed its $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods; Amazon, of course, has its own grocery delivery service, AmazonFresh.

Currently, Instacart has 1,415 in-store shoppers, or paid Instacart couriers, at 76 Whole Foods locations. 243 of those couriers exclusively deliver groceries from Whole Foods and, as a result, will no longer be able to make Instacart deliveries beginning February 10, when the company officially winds down its partnership. Instacart says they have already placed 75 percent of those workers to new roles, though 25 percent, or about 60 workers, have been laid off.

Instacart added that 75 percent of the 1,415 total shoppers, or 1,016 people, are also expected to be placed in new stores, meaning layoffs could surpass 350.

A person familiar with the matter told TechCrunch that significant developments over the last 18 months forced Instacart to wind down our relationship earlier than planned. Whole Foods didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Whole Foods will fully exit the Instacart marketplace, which allows shoppers to order from more than 300 retailers, including Kroger, Costco, Walmart and Sam’s Club, in 2019.

In a blog post this morning, Instacart founder and chief executive officer Apoorva Mehta (pictured) said the company will be offering transfer bonuses to all current Whole Foods couriers being transitioned to new stores. As for those being laid off as part of the dissolution of the partnership, Instacart will provide a minimum of 3-months separation package based on maximum monthly pay in 2018.

Instacart pays 70,000 people to shop for its costumers. The 1,415 affected by the news may seem like a small fraction, but its bad news for the business, which has likely been bracing for this since Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos signed the Whole Foods check in 2017.

VCs, however, seem to be confident in Instacart’s ability to compete with Amazon. The company raised $600 million at a $7.6 billion valuation in October, just six months after it brought in a $150 million round and roughly eight months after a $200 million financing that valued the business at $4.2 billion.

Starbucks challenger Luckin snags $200M investment on $2.2B valuation

Luckin, a startup that vows to topple Starbucks’ dominance in China, announced on Wednesday that it’s lifted its valuation to $2.2 billion after raising $200 million in a series B funding round.

That came only five months after the coffee upstart, which soft-launched in January, picked up $200 million in investment. Luckin has been on a spending spree to open shop and burnt through $150 million within the first six months in operation, its founder said in July when the company had a cash reserve of 2 billion yuan, or roughly $290 million.

Luckin currently operates across 21 major Chinese cities, totaling more than 1,700 shops. For comparison, Starbucks’s footprint spanned 3,300 stores in China as of May, though one has to take into account that the Seattle coffee chain entered China nearly 20 years ago.

Different from Starbucks, Luckin’s brick-and-mortar facilities are a mix of sit-down cafes and pickup booths, which double as delivery hubs, and take-out kitchens that are solely for delivery staff to pick up caffeine-infused orders and put them in customers’ hands within 30 minutes.

As a result, Luckin managed to build a dense network targeting office workers who may be drawn to the idea of coffee delivery because they can’t leave their desk. There’s at least one Luckin location within a 500-meter radius anywhere in downtown Shanghai and Beijing, the company claimed.

The light speed at which Luckin has expanded in less than a year probably got on the nerves of Starbucks, which went on to team up with Alibaba-owned food delivery giant Ele.me in August to bring coffee to people’s doorstep. The American company aims to expand its delivery services to 30 cities in China by the end of 2018.

Luckin’s co-founder and chief executive officer Qian Zhiya, who is the former chief operating officer at one of China’s largest auto rental firms CAR Inc, said her startup will continue to invest in products, technology and business development to improve user experience following the new round.

Luckin raised the fresh capital from existing investors Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC, Chinese government-controlled China International Capital Corporation, Joy Capital and Dazheng Capital. Liu Erhai, founding and managing partner of Joy Capital, joined Luckin’s board of directors following the close of the round. Liu’s investment portfolio includes Car Inc, Facebook’s old Chinese rival Renren and Hong Kong-listed game publisher iDreamsky.

Corporate food catering startup Chewse raises $19 million

Chewse, a food catering and company culture startup, just announced a $19 million fundraising round as it gears up to expand its operations in the Silicon Valley area. This brings Chewse’s total funding to more than $30 million. Chewse’s investors include Foundry Group, 500 Startups and Gingerbread Capital.

Instead of plopping down meals in the office and bouncing, Chewse aims to create a full experience for its customers by offering family-style meals. In order to ensure quality, Chewse employs drivers and meal hosts so that it can provide them with training. Chewse also offers it drivers and meal hosts benefits.

“We initially started with a contractor model but then very quickly started to realize our customers often mentioned the host or the driver in their feedback,” Chewse CEO and co-founder Tracy Lawrence told TechCrunch.

“I know there’s a lot of other companies that are like food tech or logistics but for us, it’s all about elevating and improving company culture,” Lawrence said. “We have technology but we’re investing in it to create an exceptional real-life experience.”

“On the tech side, we’re using a ton of machine learning and algorithms to learn what people like to eat and create custom meal schedules,” Lawrence said.

To date, Chewse has hundreds of customers across three markets. Chewse initially launched in Los Angeles, but paused operations for a little over one year in order to focus on achieving market profitability in San Francisco. Chewse has since relaunched in Los Angeles, in addition to launching in cities like Palo Alto and San Jose. As part of the Silicon Valley launch, Chewse has partnered with restaurants like Smoking Pig, HOM Korean Kitchen and Oren’s Hummus Shop.

Within the next year, the goal is to double the number of markets where Chewse operates. But Chewse faces tough competition in the corporate meal catering space.

Earlier this year, Square acquired Zesty to become part of its food delivery service, Caviar. The aim of the acquisition was to strengthen Caviar’s corporate food ordering business, Caviar for Teams.

At the time, Zesty counted about 150 restaurant customers in San Francisco, which is the only city in which it operates. Some of Zesty’s customers include Snap, Splunk and TechCrunch. Zesty, which first launched in 2013 under a different name, had previously raised $20.7 million in venture funding.

“Zesty is a direct competitor of ours for sure,” Lawrence said. “When we’re thinking about the things that set us apart from Zesty and ZeroCater, the investment in using the technology and building a meal algorithm — which is something we know they’re doing by hand — and then automatically calibrate when we’re getting feedback because we employ our hosts and our drivers. Yes, it’s more expensive for us but because it provides such a superior experience, we retain our customer longer.”

Sweetgreen is opening up order-ahead locations inside WeWork

Salad startup Sweetgreen is expanding on a pilot program with WeWork that provides free delivery to WeWork members. Though, it’s more accurate to describe it as an order-ahead service that lets you pick up your food from your WeWork of choice.

Geared toward WeWork employees and members, Sweetgreen at WeWork outposts are going live in seven cities in the country. Across those seven cities, which include New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Boston, Sweetgreen at WeWork has plans to cover 50 WeWork locations.

“WeWork and sweetgreen share a vision for creating community and being more conscious global citizens, fostering discussion and recognition of the way our actions impact ourselves, our communities, and the world around us,” WeWork president and CFO Artie Minson said in a press release. “Together, we are bringing sweetgreen’s offerings directly to thousands of WeWork members and employees while leveraging WeWork’s platform to support sweetgreen’s continued scale. While Outposts presents an exciting new opportunity, it only represents the beginning of this long-term, strategic partnership by our two mission-driven companies.”

At these locations, WeWork members and employees can place an order via Sweetgreen’s web or mobile platform, and then select their specific WeWork as the pickup location. From there, Sweetgreen delivers to that location at a select time.

This announcement comes shortly after Sweetgreen officially became a unicorn following a $200 million Series H round led by Fidelity. That round brought Sweetgreen’s total amount of funding to $365 million.

With the additional $200 million in funding, Sweetgreen is setting its eyes on other food categories and looking to expand its delivery offerings. Sweetgreen is also looking at using blockchain technology to create more transparency in the supply chain.

Meituan, China’s ‘everything app’, walks away from bike sharing and ride hailing

A major player in the race to transport Chinese people around is losing steam. Meituan Dianping, the Tencent-backed all-encompassing platform for local services, continues to put the brakes on bike-sharing and ride-hailing, the company said on its earnings call on Thursday.

The eight-year-old firm is best known for competing with Alibaba-owned Ele.me in food deliveries — the segment that makes up the majority of its sales — and hotel booking, but it’s aggressively branched into various fronts like transportation.

In April, Meituan entered the bike-sharing fray after it scooped up top player Mobike for $2.7 billion to face off Alibaba-backed Ofo. Over the past few years, Mobike and Ofo were burning through large sums of investor money in a bid to win users from subsidized rides, but both have shown signs of softening their stance recently

Mobike is downsizing its fleets to “avoid an oversupply” as the bike-sharing market falters, Meituan’s chief financial officer Chen Shaohui said during the earnings call. Ofo has also scaled back by closing down many of its international operations.

In the meantime, Meituan said it has no plans to expand car-hailing beyond its two piloting cities — Shanghai and Nanjing — after venturing into the field to take on Didi Chuxing last December. The update is consistent with what the firm announced in its prospectus ahead of a blockbuster $4.2 billion initial public offering in Hong Kong this September.

The halt is likely related to changing dynamics in the country’s shared rides. Following two passenger murders on Didi, the Softbank-backed transportation platform that took over Uber China in 2016, Chinese regulators launched their strictest verification requirements for drivers across all ride-hailing apps. The mandate has squeezed driver numbers, making it harder to hire rides on Didi and its competitors.

During its third quarter that ended September 30, Meituan posted a 97.2 percent jump on revenues to 19.1 billion yuan, or $2.75 billion, on the back of strong growth in food delivery transactions. The firm’s investments in new initiatives – including ride-hailing and bike-sharing – took a toll as operating losses nearly tripled to 3.45 billion yuan compared to a year ago. Meituan shares plunged as much as 14 percent on Friday, the most since its spectacular listing.