EAT Club acquires healthy food startup Farm Hill

EAT Club, the corporate lunch service with a customer base that includes Flipboard, Mastercard and TaskRabbit, has acquired Farm Hill, a lunch box delivery service, to solidify and expand its presence in the San Francisco Bay Area. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Farm Hill had previously raised $4 million in capital. EAT Club also brought on Doug Leeds, the former CEO at IAC Publishing and former executive in residence at August Capital, as its new CEO. Leeds is EAT Club’s third CEO since 2016, when its first CEO Frank Han moved into the COO role. Han left the company entirely in November 2017, according to his LinkedIn. Following Han’s departure as CEO, EAT Club brought on Mike Griffith, who served as president and CEO for less than two years. Griffith left in March because of a cultural mismatch of sorts, EAT Club co-founder Rodrigo Santibáñez told me. With
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Food delivery’s untapped opportunity

Investors may have already placed their orders in the consumer food delivery space, but there’s still a missing recipe for solving the over $250 billion business-to-business foodservice distribution problem that’s begging for venture firms to put more cooks in the kitchen.  Stock prices for Sysco and US Foods, the two largest food distributors, are up by over 20% since last summer when Amazon bought Whole Foods. But, these companies haven’t made any material changes to their business model to counteract the threat of Amazon. I know a thing or two about the food services industry and the need for a B2B marketplace in an industry ripe with all of our favorite buzz words: fragmentation, last mile logistics and a lack of pricing transparency.

The business-to-business food
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Instacart names David Hahn as new Chief Product Officer

Instacart, the on-demand grocery delivery platform that finds itself at the center of ever-increasing competition, has today announced that David Hahn will be taking over as Instacart’s new Chief Product Officer. Hahn previously served as VP of Product at LinkedIn, after which time he went to Greylock to serve as an entrepreneur in residence, helping portfolio companies think through their products and monetization strategies. Most recently, Hahn was President and Chief Product Officer at GoFundMe. Hahn joins Instacart during an interesting time for the grocery space. Online grocery shopping a delivery has reached “a tipping point,” in the words of Hahn, as incumbents like Walmart and Target formulate their own delivery options. Meanwhile, as we all know, Amazon is working to integrate newly acquired Whole Foods into its Prime delivery portfolio. “Just a few years from now, everyone will get their groceries this way,” said Hahn. “I’m excited to
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Good Eggs raises $50M and eyes West Coast expansion

Good Eggs, the food delivery service that promises “absurdly fresh” groceries and meal kits, has raised $50 million in new funding. That looks like a big turnaround from 2015, when the company had multiple rounds of layoffs, shut down operations outside of San Francisco and brought on Bradley Hall (an executive from Plum Organics and Clif Bar) as its new CEO. Hall said that after he took over, he spent months focused on retooling the fundamental business: “We didn’t have a single conversation about growth.” Since then, he said the company started looking at “growth with purpose” and in 2018 is ready for “thoughtful, measured expansion.” “The first change is, we realized that we were a food company enabled by technology, versus a technology company that sells food,” Hall said. That might sound vague, but it led to more concrete “trickle effects,” like quadrupling the number of
Good Eggs
Good Eggs delivery
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Munchery shuts down operations in LA, New York and Seattle

Munchery, the on-demand food delivery startup, has shut down its operations in Los Angeles, New York and Seattle, the company announced on its blog today. That means the teams from those cities are also being let go. “We recognize the impact this will have on the members of our team in those regions,” Munchery CEO James Beriker wrote on the company blog. “Our teams in each city have built their businesses from scratch and worked tirelessly to serve our customers and their communities. I am grateful for their unwavering commitment to Munchery’s mission and success. I truly wish that the outcome would have been different.” With LA, New York and Seattle off the table, Munchery says it’s going to focus more on its business in San Francisco, its first and largest market. This shift in operations will also enable Munchery to “achieve profitability on the near term, and build
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Vegan meal kit startup Purple Carrot raises $4M from Fresh Del Monte

Purple Carrot announced this morning that it has raised $4 million in strategic funding from Fresh Del Monte Produce. The company, which delivers completely plant-based (vegan) meal kits to subscribers, was founded in 2014. It has, in part, gotten attention through celebrity involvement, first by enlisting food writer Mark Bittman as its chief innovation officer (Bittman departed in 2016), then by partnering with football star and notorious strawberry hater Tom Brady to launch TB12 meal kits. Purple Carrot had previously raised $6 million in funding, according to Crunchbase. The company says that this new investment will allow it to improve its supply chain, get access to more retail opportunities and explore expansion into other categories. “Securing this strategic investment from Fresh Del Monte is a huge validation of our business model, and an important step forward for our company,” said Purple Carrot founder and CEO Andy Levitt in
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How did Thumbtack win the on-demand services market?

Earlier today, the services marketplace Thumbtack held a small conference for 300 of its best gig economy workers at an event space in San Francisco. For the nearly ten-year-old company the event was designed to introduce some new features and a redesign of its brand that had softly launched earlier in the week. On hand, in addition to the services professionals who’d paid their way from locations across the U.S. were the company’s top executives. It’s the latest step in the long journey that Thumbtack took to become one of the last companies standing with a consumer facing marketplace for services. Back in 2008, as the global financial crisis was only just beginning to tear at the fabric of the U.S. economy, entrepreneurs at companies like Thumbtack andTaskRabbit were already hard at work on potential patches. This was the beginning of what’s now known as the gig
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Tyson Foods investment arm backs another lab-grown meat manufacturer

The venture investment arm of massive meat manufacturer Tyson Foods is continuing its push into potential alternative methods of poultry production with a new investment in the Israeli startup Future Meat Technologies. The backer of companies like the plant-based protein-maker Beyond Meat, and cultured-meat company Memphis Meats, Tyson Ventures’ latest investment is also tackling technology development to create mass produced meat in a lab — instead of on the farm. Future Meat Technologies is working to commercialize a manufacturing technology for fat and muscle cells that was first developed in the laboratories of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. “It is difficult to imagine cultured meat becoming a reality with a current production price of about $10,000 per
kilogram,” said Yaakov Nahmias, the company’s founder and Chief Scientist, in a statement. “We redesigned the
manufacturing process until we brought it down to $800 per kilogram today, with a clear roadmap
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The Eminem AR show

With the debut of his Eminem Augmented app at Coachella last night, hip hop’s not-so-merry prankster took the (somewhat revolutionary) step of embracing the machine that so many musicians have raged against — by building an experience that actually enhances the way that modern fans see live music. Rather than fighting the mobile phone phenomena, which has fans watching sets through the reflected glow of a cell phone’s live recording, the multiplatinum megastar decided to lose himself in the moment… and own it. We figured, if the phones are going to be there and people are going to be putting them up in the air and looking at them anyway why don’t we provide a way to maybe change the way they’re perceiving the show,” says Def Jam chief executive (and former manager for Marshall Mathers), Paul Rosenberg. Developed by the multimedia production shop Drive Studios, Eminem’s live
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Impossible Foods goes to White Castle

Impossible Foods is taking another bite out of the meat supply chain, with the announcement that its meatless burger substitute is coming to America’s first fast-food burger chain — White Castle. That’s right, now stoned vegan hippies can join stoned slackers in their quest for cheap, delicious burger-y goodness. The “Impossible Slider,” which is made from Impossible Foods’ vegetable-based ground beef substitute, will now be available for $1.99, or as part of a combo meal. It’s hard to understate the importance of this as Impossible Foods now makes the jump from higher-end, fast-casual restaurants to a truly mass consumer, fast-food chain. If the company’s mission to be a viable competitor to ground beef — and ultimately replace it — Impossible Foods was going to have to make the jump from Umami Burger to “Impossible Slider” at some point. As we wrote recently, the company has been beefing up
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How artificial intelligence will take over the supermarket produce aisles

Artificial intelligence is about more than asking Alexa or Siri to turn on the lights at home and add a reminder to the calendar about getting some milk at the store later in the afternoon.

The true power of AI and machine learning is how it can democratize expertise, lowering the barriers to entry for tasks that once could only be performed by a small group of specialists. The result, one day, will be that your self-driving car drops you off at the supermarket, where you will find higher-quality foods available at prices lower than they’ve ever been.

It will happen through the use of machine learning algorithms that absorb a large volume of data, recognize patterns and apply statistical probabilities to choose the course of action most likely to result in a successful outcome.

For example, Google’s famous self-driving car used machine learning to catalog a number of interesting

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Where’s the beef? For Impossible Foods it’s in boosting burger sales and raising hundreds of millions

Any company that’s looking to replace the more than 5 billion pounds of ground beef making its way onto tables in the U.S. every year with a meatless substitute is going to need a lot of cash. It’s a big vision with lots of implications for the world — from climate change and human health to challenging the massive, multi-billion dollar industries that depend on meat — and luckily for Impossible Foods (one of the many companies looking to supplant the meat business globally), the company has managed to attract big-name investors with incredibly deep pockets to fund its meatless mission. In the seven years since the company raised its first $7 million investment from Khosla Ventures, Impossible Foods has managed to amass another $389 million in financing — most recently in the form of a convertible note from the Singaporean global investment powerhouse Temasek (which is backed by
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Marijuana soda startup California Dreamin’ wants to replace booze

“Enjoy a light, social high” says the funky bottle of California Dreamin’ cannabis -infused sparkling pomegranate juice. Launching today at Y Combinator Demo Day, California Dreamin’ is serving up an alcohol alternative that still gets you lit, but without the same hangover or health issues. Each bottle contains 10 milligrams of THC — an industry standard dose of the psychoactive chemical in marijuana. The company only uses sativa, the more energizing, euphoric type of pot, compared to the more body relaxing Indica variety. That’s compared to some competing marijuana beverages with as much as 100mg — enough that a single sip will get you high and bottle will lay out all but the hardiest stoners. “We want it to be a light, head high feel” says Seven Cities Beverage Company aka California Dreamin’ co-founder Amy Ludlum. “We don’t want to give anyone couch lock. We want it to be social.
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Five Seasons Ventures is a new €60M European early-stage fund investing in food and agriculture tech

More VC money sloshing around Europe, this time with the launch of a new early-stage fund targeting food and agriculture technology. Backed by the likes of European Investment Fund, Nestlé, Fondo Italiano d’Investimento, and Bpifrance, Five Seasons Ventures is announcing the first closing of its fund with commitments “in excess of €60 million” to invest in food/agtech in the region. The France-headquartered VC says it plans to focus on early-stage companies developing tech innovations aimed at solving key challenges in the sector. These span healthier food, to shorter supply chains, to quantified and personalised nutrition, to alternative proteins. Five Seasons Ventures is founded and managed by Ivan Farneti and Niccolò Manzon. Farneti is a seasoned VC and was previously a founding partner of Doughty Hanson Technology Ventures and a board member of Seedcamp. Niccolò meanwhile is said to bring quite a lot food and agtech investing experience. In his previous
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Judge rules GrubHub properly classified delivery driver as independent contractor

 A few months after hearing closing arguments in the Lawson v. GrubHub case, Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley has ruled Raef Lawson, the plaintiff, was indeed an independent contractor while driving and delivering food for GrubHub. “We’re extremely satisfied with today’s ruling in Lawson v. Grubhub, which validates the freedom our delivery partners enjoy from deciding when, where… Read More

Agrilyst raises another $1.5M for its intelligent indoor farming platform

 Agrilyst, a platform that makes it easier for indoor farmers to manage their crops based on sensor data, today announced that it has raised a $1.5 million funding round from iSelect Fund, Argonautic Ventures, Horizons Lab and Onland Capital Fund. The new investors were joined by existing investors Compound and the New York State Innovation Capital Fund. Read More

Tyson Foods invests in Tovala’s new oven and meal kit business

 Tovala, the startup that’s designed a new steam-based oven and accompanying meal kit subscription service, has inked an investment and partnership agreement with the food prep giant Tyson Foods. Through Tyson Ventures, the company’s investment arm, Tovala will get an undisclosed amount of new financing as the two companies pursue collaborations on Tyson-branded Tovala meals.… Read More

Safe Catch Tuna is a startup on a mission to eradicate the risk of mercury poisoning from your fish

 Bay Area startup Safe Catch Tuna has developed a patented technology to detect mercury levels in a variety of fish and pledges that its own brand of tuna products have the lowest levels of any brand. The company is one of those overnight successes more than a decade in the making. Co-founder Sean Wittenberg started the company in 2004 after his own mom was diagnosed with mercury poisoning. Read More