Instacart Taps Facebook Executive As CEO, Names Founder Apoorva Mehta To Executive Chairman

Instacart has a new chief executive officer. Apoorva, the founder, has been leading the grocery delivery startup for more than a decade. Fidji SIMO, a board member, has taken over the role of executive chairman. This comes as investors look to make an initial offer for the company before the year ends.

Mehta, who started working with Simo in January 2021, said that the idea of Simo running the company was never on her mind. I won’t pretend that this was an easy decision. This was a tough decision. Instacart has been my life work.

Mehta, an ex-Amazon engineer, invented Instacart when he was just 24 years old. His only possession in his Bay Area fridge at the time was a Sriracha bottle. Mehta did the majority of the shopping, with Uber delivering the bulk. Mehta managed to get Instacart back on track after the acquisition of rival Amazon-Whole Foods. He also helped navigate the company through the five-fold increase in demand during the 2020 pandemic.

Instacart is now shipping from more than 55,000 stores in over 5,500 U.S. towns. The company’s value is $39 billion. Mehta, who is hyper-focused and detail-oriented, has a net worth of approximately $3.5 billion. Forbes quoted Mehta as saying that his recent successes have made him more optimistic, echoing earlier statements he made to Forbes this year: “I am playing a 20-year sport.”

Now the CEO of Facebook’s flagship app, Simo was recently hailed as a member of the company’s 2019 “new guard.” Simo is a French-born immigrant who joined Facebook in 2012 to manage the monetization efforts of the social media platform through web advertising via its News Feed and videos. Simo’s focus will be on Instacart’s advertising department, which launched in 2019 and generated $1.5 billion in revenue.

“The ROI is already there for advertisers. Simo states that people have an advertising product within their carts. This is the holy grail of advertising. “I want to keep adding advertising formats and scale that as fast as I can.”

The board member quickly became close to her, and they often spoke on the telephone to resolve a problem. These phone calls became more frequent and more prolonged over seven months. Five months into the conversation, Simo indicated that she might be interested in leaving Facebook.

Mehta, listed on the Forbes 30 Under 30 List in 2015, said that he quit and drove three hours to her Carmel, California home. Simo recalls the 9 p.m. meeting as a spur-of-the-moment event. “My husband joked that I was the most hands-on board member ever when I was doing these daily phone calls with Apoorva. It was gradual.

Mehta said that the shakeup was entirely his idea and not forced on him by investors. Instacart is now a leader with over a decade’s experience in a publicly-traded technology company. Facebook is currently dealing with antitrust suits from government regulators as well as other political scandals. This has put Mark Zuckerberg, a billionaire founder, in a cloud over his control and reach over the personal information of his users.

It is a theme Mehta is familiar with. Instacart’s success hinges on maintaining the trust of more than 100 grocers. Without them, Mehta’s delivery application is ineffective. Simo is promoted to the top because Instacart’s incursions have shaken the delicate balance in the advertising space. This hits at a critical profit center for supermarkets and raised concerns that Simo may have allowed a Fox into their chicken house.

Simo said that “I was delighted in my job and didn’t consider anything else.” But life happens. Simo was featured in Marie Claire as the executive responsible for rebuilding trust in Facebook two years ago.

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Adam Collins
Adam writes about technology, business and economics. With master's degree in Economics, he's presented six papers in international conferences. As a solivagant in the constant state of fernweh, curiosity is the main weapon in his arsenal.

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