Delivery startups and other unicorns are transforming restaurant tech

…Instead of actually going to restaurants themselves, more consumers are using meal delivery apps like Postmates and DoorDash. When customers do dine in, instead of calling for a reservation, they want the ease of apps like Resy and EZTable. The old power of the newspaper restaurant review is fading—now, adventurous eaters are finding new holes-in-the-wall on social media or sites like Zomato. In China, Meituan-Dianping and are using restaurant delivery as a cornerstone of their would-be commerce empires. And consumers’ increasing desire for friction-free eating is contributing to the rise of companies like Chowbotics and Farmer’s Fridge that use machines to prepare and distribute meals.

…Just how many billions are we talking? Last year, more than $8 billion, according to PitchBook data, representing the pinnacle of a decade-long spike in funding. Back in 2009, the restaurant tech vertical saw just 19 total VC investments worth barely $75 million. As you can see here, the former figure would increase more than tenfold within the decade, and the latter would leap more than a hundredfold:

…As meal delivery companies that attained sky-high valuations, those two are far from alone: Most of the biggest rounds and valuations in the restaurant tech space are attached to companies that specialize in bringing food to customers within the comfort of their own homes. India’s Swiggy, Germany’s Delivery Hero, the UK’s Deliveroo and San Francisco’s Postmates and DoorDash are among the other delivery companies to attain VC-backed valuations of $1 billion or more in the past two years.

…Overall, those 10 firms and the rest of the world’s VC investors have combined to invest nearly $20 billion into the restaurant tech vertical since the start of 2016, including more than $2 billion in 1Q 2019. If that pace keeps up, this year could bring yet another new record for annual deal value in the space.


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