Bloomberg Studio 1.0 - Instacart CEO Fidji Simo
It's been eight months since you've been CEO. How are you feeling. Are you settled. I feel great. I know it's been a very fun year for a lot of learnings and getting to know the teams getting to know 4000. It's been awesome. Is it. Every day is day one like an Amazon Fast and Breaking Bad base. We don't want to break anything but so we're very much at the beginning of a long journey and we think that's a vision for the company is incredibly exciting and well just getting started with this big digital transformation we're seeing in the industry. Do you have your own motto like your own sort of mantra just to really really liking particular one is grows a pie. We like food birds. The idea is that we make everyone better likes the entire
industry better and the other ones I really like is pretty. Dolan's at table because I think it's really important to have like transparency and like tell it like it is. So it's a good value to follow. She worked at Facebook now matter for a decade. Rising to become one of Mark Zuckerberg top lieutenants. Now Fiji's CMO is at the helm of grocery delivery upstart in-store cart. Her goal. To become the technology platform for the grocery business and take
on Amazon. How will she do it. Joining me on this edition of Bloomberg Studio 1.0 Insta Cart CEO CMO. It's so great to be with you here in person. So great to feel things like loving me. What is your read right now on how the pandemic has changed the grocery industry. Well I think it does massively accelerated some move towards online grocery and this transformation is very much here to stay. But the thing that's really interesting is that now that we look forward to the next kind of decade of growth we still see massive opportunity where right now the industry is still up 10 percent penetrated online. We think it's going to go towards 30 percent maybe in the next five to 10 years. You know when I arrived as CEO I was this
interesting narratives that if people go back to stores in golf loses. And that can be the case because all goal is to really be aligned with all retail partners and all retail partners just want to address customer needs wherever customers is always on its online was at its in-store. My son was very impressed when I told him I was interviewing the CEO of In-store Cart. He also said you should tell them to stock up because replacing a lot of things. Talk to us about the food shortages and how bad
it is right now. Yeah we've certainly seen a lot of issues with supply chain obviously and while walking hand-in-hand with our grocers to really address that we have the best replacement technology in the industry so that when something's missing we can really replace it with something appropriate. There is concern that the war in Ukraine will drive up food prices even more. This is on top of rising inflation. Ukraine is a big producer of wheat a big producer of seed oils. What are you expecting. So we have seen inflation definitely hit you know on on so-called Tomorrowland sconces that grow sell sets a price. And so we flex up price back to the customer and we have certain mission an increase in food prices. We are
tracking that closely. We think that customers are for now kind of adapting by adjusting our baskets and really focusing on essential items. You grew up in France. What's it like watching this happen to another European country. It's you know absolutely heartbreaking. I think you know what. It feels a little surreal
that to realize that this can be happening you know in this day and age. But you know we are trying to support our employees that of their families or their friends over that and do our part to or to help people through this crisis. I know you're kind of a newcomer to the grocery business but not to food culture. You were raised in a small town in France in a fishing
village and I believe three generations of fishermen in your family. Well you know I wasn't destined to end up in Silicon Valley. I grew up in a very big rambunctious Sicilian family where food was always at the center of everything we did. And so you know it's kind of going back to my roots to to go back into into a food business. I'm curious of growing up that way and you know sort of walking around you know with your with your grandfather through the fishing village. Did it instill this
sort of builder mentality. Absolutely. I mean my grandfather always taught me you know I can forgive anything. The one thing I wouldn't forgive was if jollies. And so the work ethic was like deeply deeply ingrained in my family. And he always made me feel like everything was possible if you worked hard at it and you brought your heart and soul into it. You were the first one in your family to graduate from high school. I just linger on a moment. That's incredible. You know it's a fishing industry was interesting in that they take enormous pride in what's it do. And so as art reminds me a lot of what
I've seen was grocers in the industry right now reaching every customer has a door legs that reminded me of the pride that they saw in my family for a job well done and you know making sure that the food was perfect and fresh. And so it is all things that you know I take to heart. And I want I want my job to be excellent. So how did you get to Silicon Valley. So I got to so we can run. About 15 years ago I started my career at eBay and then moved to Facebook and spent 10 years at Facebook. There were a lot of people would take bets on me. Even so I didn't look on paper that I was the perfect person for the
job. But I had enormous grit and works very hard. And and I think that that really helped you know Covid path and annual. You rose up through the ranks working in almost every corner of the business. You became one of Mark Zuckerberg top lieutenants in product. What did you learn there about what to do and what not to do as a leader. You know you know watching Mark operate for 10 years was kind of one of the best CEOs calls you can you can ever
imagine because senior does incredibly well. Is RTS so hard. It is since long term and tries to balance. The execution in the short term was a very long term view. I also learned that you know you need to be proactive when there's risks in your business. And we've seen that with Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg may be one of the most scrutinized most criticized founders ever.
Facebook now matter is one of the most criticized companies ever. Is that warranted. I think the scrutiny is warranted because they have such you know tremendous impact on the world. However when people talk about Facebook they expect very easy answers to very complex problems of its content. Moderation was at its policy. Antitrust problems do not have easy answers. They require a lot of nuance a lot of understanding. I imagine Mark tried really hard to get you to stay. Well I really wasn't expecting to leave Facebook last year. I joins a border fence. Fins the goal to really. To learn more about a different industry and take my skills and place them somewhere else. And I kind of fell in love with the company. I fell in love with the
opportunity. And and you know for Mark obviously you know we had a long conversation is the the course of many weeks. But ultimately I understood that I wanted to spread my wings. How did a a matter the founder of insta cart approach you and when did CEO become the ask a single plover to his credit. And that's really helpful
for thunder to do. Started to realize that you know given my skill sets I may be a better position to go execute on that vision than you would. And so you know during this conversation it became clear that you know my vision was actually quite different from his but he was excited to see what could happen with mine. You want to take on Amazon how.
Some of the big moves you made right away you started building out your executive team you brought in women executives you added strong women to the board. You brought in Carolyn Everson your former colleague at Facebook. That didn't work out. Why didn't network. It didn't quite work out when some things are not working out. And it's pretty obvious that I'm not the best thing you can do is kind of you know move move quickly. And so is the fact that Carolyn and I had a 10 year relationship made
it easier to observe kind of hold conversation and like hey this isn't what what we wanted on this side. And I think it's actually created a very big opportunity. You have now as a team in charge of relationship with retailers reports directly to me. And that has allowed me to go much much deeper into that which is so critical for this business in Chicago is now a major player in the grocery industry 70000 stores. But you want to go bigger. Lay out the vision for us. So when I when I arrived at the company it was so obvious to me that in Scott wasn't just an online grocery delivery company. ISE is a company is really the operating system for grocery where we can work with all retailers who have you know all of the expertise craft and care of retail and Mary's art who's of technology and fulfillment assets to really help them embrace ISE digital transformation.
Amazon is shutting down a lot of its physical stores its four star stores but it's doubling down on grocery ugly Whole Foods and its Amazon Go stores. You want to take on Amazon. How. Well we want to help all grocers of all of the technologies in need in order to compete with Amazon to your point. Amazon is investing very heavily in grocery and we have a ton of technology called abilities. And that was a big part of why in my files we can do a job I say to acquire a keeper. And which is a smart guy technology because I want all of the grocers we work. We used to have the same edge that Amazon has. And so I see I see it as my responsibility to build all of the technologies that they need to compete with Amazon so that we can be easier to vote for for them. And then there's Uber and door dash and go puff and go outside the United States and the list goes on. How does in-store can't stand out from all of these different players that are competing for a piece of that
pie. Just players fundamentally compete with all gross sales. They want to attack the market by being first body retailer of owning their own inventory. And so that's not a whole approach at all. Our approach is really building technology in fulfillment to help all grocers. It's the second thing is that his players are very focused on
one particular piece of the market which is quick commerce. And that's really important. And we've set this in our own convenience business doubled in the last six months. We actually address all of the needs that consumers have. While not just quick comments were holes was a weekly shop. We are also young once the bulk stock up and that's what retailers
want. Now inevitably after I interview you or Darren Kaiser head over a Tony shoe at door dash I will get feedback on social media from shoppers and drivers who are not happy. One in-store cart shopper posted a picture of an order show. They delivered 51 items got paid seven dollars and ninety five cents in noted. Is that representative. No. That's very much not representative. And I think you know fundamentally shoppers care about their earnings. They really want flexible earnings
whenever they want to. And so all job is to make sure that they have more access to work. So what is representative. What is a normal wage for a delivery like that. We are very much in line with kind of industry average of force these kinds of jobs. And so that's something that we always tried to kind of nudge a consumer of like hey your shop LG do a really good job. Can. Can you chip a little more. What if they don't though. Right. I mean that's we're leaving it up to the customer. We actually and some customers think well you should build this into your price. We make it very transparent to the shopper before they accept an
order. What's the holdup. It's going to look like how much we're gonna pay them and how much like the consumer is paying them. And so they can decide whether they take an older home was also which use it. And that's the kind of flexibility a lot of shoppers really value as a kind of transparency. That's it. Are you seeing a labor shortage right now and what are you doing to combat that. It's different in different places. All demographic of shoppers is completely different from food delivery and our rates sharing where 70 percent women and half of them are moms. And that's because a lot of the job out in Scotts is very different. And just being in the car with strangers it's about like going to
the store doing a good job of customer service of really picking the right products for the consumer. And we are seeing that being very appealing to women the instant delivery space or 15 minute delivery space. Is that something that you want to. Down on it's something that we absolutely want to offer because again we really think that all customers want a full range of option. She didn't mean delivery is not going to be relevant for everything. I mean it's gonna be very relevant on sales and date when I'm craving chocolate ice cream. And I. It's really an emergency when I get like cookie dough me. You've made some strategic acquisitions as you've mentioned. What about in the rapid delivery space Joker Gorilla. No we haven't. And the main
reason is because all of these players are doing very much first body groceries. So that means we own inventory. And so it's not it's not something that's interesting to us because our whole approach is really builds infrastructure officers up. Our grocers can do a solid minute delivery of 15 minute delivery whereas his players are doing it kind of funds on bypassing the process. Do you think retailers trust you. Do they trust in-store card. So you know when I when I took a job I was surprised by the strength of what we tell our relationships. But there was always this kind of lingering questions that retailers
had for me which was you know what are your long term intentions. Are you planning on becoming a retailer at some point. And I had to kind of address that head on and explain to them in great detail why you would make no sense for us to really go in that direction and where we were going to be able to build a much bigger company. If we just focus on what we're good at. Many of your shoppers are women as you say as a woman CEO. Are you taking a different strategy and a different approach to shoppers that you think might help restore trust with them. I've spent a lot of time with shoppers ever since I
got started because I really wanted to understand their needs and what they were expecting from us as a company. And you know I do a lot of us is like one on one conversation. And so what I learned is that ISE is the shoppers take enormous pride in our work but we really want flexibility. And what we want to do you know approach is memories of flexibility that they crave with the protections that we sing. He also very much deserve and just two things don't have to be upheld. Have you ever shopped yourself or followed a shopper around. Yes. And it's really a hobby. Let me tell you a lot of shoppers were asking for life support from all care agents on the phone while still doing an order because when something goes wrong as if trying to get sold out. Did you go to the customer in the best possible way. Initially we were just doing chat support. Now we've launched a
fun support to be able to support them during that time. What progress are you making on international expansion where grocery delivery. Competition is only escalating. So we want to be a global company at some point. We think that's a service we provide is very much universal. At the same time the North American market is so big and still so end up in a treated such. We still want to focus on that for the foreseeable future. My biggest advice is like think about what makes you different and turn it to your advantage.
There's a lot of speculation about insta carts IPO and when that will happen. When will that happen. How far out is it. I'm not I'm not going to give you everything you really know. Do I want the company to become a public company at some point. Of course. But I really want to make sure that the companies that we do take public is a company that's reflective of this new bold vision. You started a women's healthcare startup last year. What about healthcare.
Is that something that could somehow be adjacent to insta carts business. You know I think more actually origins your whole business like we fundamentally are. That's the center of people's desires. Just to give you a couple of examples. We've rolled out a ISE the ability for people to buy grocery using EBIT SNAP argues or nutrition assistance program. And that has been incredibly impactful. And it allows millions of people across the U.S. to get access to food in a way that they wouldn't have been able to get access to otherwise. You've been very public and courageous about sharing your own health issues
health issues which affect mostly only women. Were you always that courageous or did that take time to get comfortable. Just sharing a lot of time. You know I think I think I felt like I had a responsibility to do that because it's such a taboo like health is just such a taboo in the workplace. And so I felt like I really needed to speak up. And especially when I started doing it kind of at the time inside Facebook I got so much feedback from women saying oh my God we never thought that a woman in this position was struggling with those challenges. What's your advice to founders CEOs or really anyone who is struggling worried about being discriminated against worried about being judged. A lot of what makes you different can be of superpower. I spent a lot of time trying to shoot it and I even took accent
reduction classes at Stanford. And as you can tell it didn't work. And so you know after a while I was like you know what. I'm going to stop trying desperately to shit in and I'm going to like spend a lot more time thinking about what do I bring to the tables that's different. And I come from a very different backgrounds than most people in Silicon Valley. I have a different perspective. Even my health issues have made me a much better leader because like I developed much more empathy for my team. My biggest advice is like think about what makes you different and turn it
to your advantage. Knowing your superpower is perfect for our Segway into this is like a little rapid fire. What is a secret power that you have that people don't know about. I think I am able to connect the dots between a lot of different ideas in a way that helps me set a vision that's that's more compelling than just the sum of the parts. Who are your most powerful mentors. You know I don't like the world mentors. I like the world's sponsor. I think of mentors of people who like sit down
with you and give you advice about a nice cup of coffee. And that's nice. But sponsors also people who puts our petition on the table to open doors for you. And so I would say Mark Zuckerberg has been obviously one of those people. Do you still talk to him. I mean when do you call him. What kind of counsel do you seek from him. Well I think it's you know in tough times
when I'm realizing that see your job is obviously very hard and lonely and realizing how much I learned from him about that you know opinion him and telling him like hey am I doing this right. Is this normal. Speaking of advice best advice for someone in their 20s always give everything your best advice for women in particular about how to survive and thrive in the tech industry. Surround yourself with people which is a magic in you. People would know. What makes you unique and reflects back to you. And sometimes believe in you in times where you don't believe in yourself. Did you ever find it hard yourself.
You know it's interesting because in hindsight when you look at all of the hoops I had to jump through. Of course it was hard. But in so in the moment I kind of never thought about it as like being hauled. I always say you know you need to be very inflexible on the destination but very flexible and the journey. And so in my mind
I was kind of clearing kind of one branch off tells the other to get to the end state and trying to be flexible on how to get there. And I think that actually helps me because you focus so much on the obstacles. So that's all you can see. And and so it was you know was our bias was on discrimination around me. Of course we all know it exists. And ideally you know we're going to make it easier over time to have fewer obstacles along the way and lift women up as. We all rise last TV show you binged succession. It's so good. I know you have a daughter and a husband who cooks very good French pastries. What is your take on work life integration or whatever you want to call it. I love the world integration. To me it's
like how do I take all of the different parts of my life and makes them better than if they were separate. I hosted my management team for big offsite last week and my daughter is always in the middle. Metaphors or real world. Real world scale. So do you believe in the metaverse vision that Marcus laid out. I personally don't love spending a ton of time in jail. I am incredibly motion sick which would have been a very big problem if I had stayed fruits of work to build a metaverse. But I think I think it's it's a very big bold vision. And I think he's right to go in that direction. You feel like you have to think about what staccato metaverse play would be. Yet you know for now we have a lot of real life potatoes and tomatoes to deliver. And I
think people would be a little disappointed if they bite into it and there's nothing coming out. You spent the bulk of your career at a company that hyper scaled so fast sometimes maybe even too fast. What are your top guiding principles for scaling in-store carts. Business. So no one thing is people like you no issue is you hire great people. And are you you know you empower
them. Good things happen. The second one is vision. I think if everybody is aligned behind it long term vision optimizes for the long run and really believe INS is a jail that as we grow everyone else is going to grow and we will mix entire of our industry and ecosystem better. ISE and we will. Skelton's right features CMA CEO of Insta Car. Thank you so much for joining us. It's been so wonderful to have you. Thank you so much for having.