DoorDash acquires salad-making robot startup Chowbotics
Fresh off a successful IPO, DoorDash announced it has acquired Chowbotics, the creator of the Fresh Food Robot. The financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but the Chowbotics team have all become DoorDash employees, and the company will operate independently within DoorDash.
Founded in 2014 by Deepak Sekar, Chowbotics is a Hayward, California-based robotics startup company known for its technology, Sally – a salad-making robot offering fully-customized, fresh, and healthy salads.
Chowbotics uses robots to solve several problems in the foodservice industry including compromised cleanliness and inefficiency. It targets cafeterias, restaurants, and hotels. Sally’s proprietary technology dispenses measured quantities of more than 20 ingredients – refreshed daily – to create a ready-to-eat meal any time of day. The technology, with several patents pending, is also applicable to other cuisines, such as Mexican and Indian, and respective robots will follow.
In a blog post by DoorDash General Manager Penn Daniel, the company welcomes Chowbotics to the DoorDash team. “The added expertise of the Chowbotics team allows us to continue to create new ways to bring customers everything in their local neighborhoods. We believe the versatility of the DoorDash platform enables seamless integration and scaling of the Chowbotics offering,” Daniel wrote.
“We have long admired the work that Chowbotics has done to increase access to fresh meals, with its groundbreaking robotics product and vision,” DoorDash co-founder Stanley Tang said in a statement emailed to The Verge. “With the Chowbotics team on board, we can explore new use cases and customers, providing another service to help our merchants grow.”
Chowbotics was founded in 2014, and its fresh food robot Sally — a rectangular machine that’s essentially a salad vending machine — can create customizable salads, grain and poke bowls, parfaits, cereals, and snacks all within a small space. The robot is used by companies like universities, hospitals, and grocery stores, according to a blog post from DoorDash general manager Penn Daniel.
DoorDash currently has the greatest share of the US food delivery market, around 48 percent, ahead of rivals like UberEats and Grubhub. Its revenue skyrocketed in 2020 as restaurants closed in-person dining due to the pandemic and customers relied on delivery services. But when DoorDash went public late last year, its IPO was criticized by some analysts as lacking in value; they questioned how DoorDash would be able to continue to grow if demand for food delivery subsides once the pandemic is over.