Apoorva Mehta, who founded Instacart a decade ago and guided the company through an online grocery revolution it helped to enable, said July 8 he would step aside as the company’s CEO while Fidji Simo, a high-ranking and influential executive at Facebook, prepares to succeed him.
Simo, who currently serves on the board of directors of Instacart, will take over as CEO on Aug. 2 as Mehta transitions to an executive chairman role at the San Francisco-based online grocery platform. Simo is current VP and head of the Facebook app. She is expected to lead the fast-growing company into a public stock offering that has been in the works for months—including a thorough revamping of the company’s executive team that has already landed several of Simo’s former Facebook colleagues. She is also expected to further develop the company’s model, including advertising partnerships, as it builds on its leadership in online grocery shopping.
"Seven months ago, I invited Fidji to join Instacart’s board and, since then, I’ve been blown away by her capabilities as a leader. Over the last decade at Facebook, she’s been a part of every big moment in the company’s history, including helping it grow from 1,000 to nearly 100,000 people and leading the world’s most popular app. Fidji was also at Facebook during its transition from a private company to the public market and understands what it takes to lead and scale a transformational company like Instacart. I believe that with Fidji at the helm we'll be in an even stronger position to seize the incredible opportunity in front of us," Mehta said in a release.
In a separately published open letter to the Instacart community, Mehta put it more succinctly: “Fidji will simply be a better CEO than me for Instacart’s coming years.”
Over the past decade at Facebook, Simo oversaw the development and strategy for the Facebook app, including News Feed, Stories, Groups, Video, Marketplace, Gaming, News, Dating, Ads and more, Instacart said. She was also a core driver of the social-media company’s mobile monetization strategy and led the team in charge of architecting its advertising business and developing ad formats for mobile. She also made video a critical part of the Facebook experience, from rolling out videos that autoplay in News Feed, to building and launching Facebook Live and Watch. Prior to Facebook, Simo worked at eBay, where she helped build out the company's local commerce and classified-advertising initiatives.
“As we think about the future of food, we believe the way people eat and their relationship with food will fundamentally change over the next decade. They’ll expect a more convenient experience, the widest selection of food at their fingertips, faster delivery times, increased personalization and more inspiration,” Simo said in a release. “Instacart has an opportunity to deliver all of that for customers, while also becoming an even stronger ally and growth accelerator for retailers and advertisers, and helping create economic opportunities for hundreds of thousands of shoppers. I’m excited to work with the talented teams at Instacart, as well as our retail partners, to reimagine the future of grocery, and create a world where everyone has access to the food they love and more time to enjoy it together.”
Despite being viewed with no small amount of uneasiness from retailers and industry observers concerned over how an intermediating tech partner could disrupt customer and supplier relationships and data—and often absorbing criticism that has come with its embrace of a “gig” workforce that enables grocery orders to be shopped for and delivered—Instacart has been an enormous influence in the grocery industry in recent years. It has helped thousands of retail stores get an online offering running quickly—a proposition considered too expensive and complex for many stores to do on their own—while playing a role in the changing expectations of grocery shoppers.
As executive chairman, Mehta said he would remain “very engaged in the business on a day-to-day basis” and would partner with Simo on long-term strategic moves.
“What started as a simple idea when I had nothing to eat but Sriracha in my apartment has transformed the grocery industry,” Mehta said. “Today, millions of households across North America depend on us for their weekly shopping. Tens of thousands of stores from local favorites like Bi-Rite in San Francisco all the way to national chains like Kroger rely on us to grow their businesses. More than half a million people have a flexible way to earn on our platform. Over the last 18 months as COVID spread through our communities, we also became an essential service for millions of households. It was the culmination of a decade of hard work, and I’ve never been prouder of how our teams rallied to be there for our communities during this difficult time. Instacart now facilitates tens of billions of dollars in sales for our retailers, and we couldn’t be better positioned for the future.”