Glovo gets $134M to beef up its on-demand delivery business

Spanish startup Glovo, whose platform lets app users summon a gig economy worker to shop on their behalf, be it for a takeaway burger or a multi-bag supermarket shop, has bagged a €115 million (~$134M) Series C round of funding.

The lead investors are Rakuten, Seaya and Cathay, which had also invested in its Series B.

Also investing is AmRest — a publicly listed restaurant operator in Central Europe — as well as European funds Idinvest Partners and GR Capital, plus some other minor investments.

AmRest controls more than 1,650 restaurants in more than 16 countries — with brands such as KFC, La Tagliatella, Pizza Hut, Starbucks and Burger King, Blue Frog and KABB under its belt. So the strategic opportunities it’s spying to ply fast food fans with on-demand food at the tap of an app button are clear.

Glovo raised a €30M Series B last October. The startup was founded in Barcelona in 2015, and its delivery riders — with the distinctive yellow box bags strapped to their backs — are a common sight around the city, often to be spotted clustering in expectant groups at the entrance to McDonald’s and other fast food outlets.

The startup says the new funding will be put towards optimizing its platform and tech resources to improve the service to riders, users and associated stores.

Specifically, it’s planning to increase its tech team by adding more than 100 engineers in the coming months — saying it wants to become what it dubs “the most relevant technology hub in Southern Europe”.

It also plans to use the funds to fuel its momentum, noting it’s opened up six countries and 20 cities around the world in just three months. Its regions of focus are Latin America and EMEA areas (Europe, the Middle East and Africa), and its app is available in 61 cities in 17 countries in all at this stage.

While Europe is a core region, and Spain alone accounts for a major chunk of its business — where it’s now operating in 21 cities — the legal risk for gig economy companies operating there is rising as political pressure grows to reform employment law to bolster workers’ rights against erosions by app platforms that are in turn reliant on huge armies of so-called ‘self-employed’ workers to power their businesses.  

In the UK, for example, the government is consulting on a package of labor market reforms, saying in February that it wanted to be “accountable for good quality work as well as quantity of jobs” — and putting gig economy platforms on watch for changes.

Glovo’s other regional focus — of Latin America — suggests the startup is hedging its bets where this type of employment law legal risk is concerned.

And indeed where competitive risk is concerned, given the space it’s playing it is a very crowded one on the food delivery front (with the likes of Deliveroo, UberEats and JustEast competing to conveniently serve consumers’ stomaches in Europe), and the likes of Postmates having established a shop-on-your-behalf business in the US.

Also today Glovo announced the nomination of Niall Wass as chairman. It said that Wass, a former Uber SVP for the EMEA & APAC region, has been working for it as advisor for the past year and helping with its expansion strategy.

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