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Instacart's Big Tech hiring spree

Instacart's Big Tech hiring spree

Good morning! This Monday, Instacart has a Facebook fixation, Twitter's changing its culture, and some tech workers have a secret, full-time side hustle.

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The Big Story

Instacart's road to an IPO

For a moment, it seemed like Instacart was fixated on Facebook talent. The company started the summer by announcing Fidji Simo, one of Facebook's big execs, as its next CEO. Just a few weeks later, Instacart tapped Facebook's ads leader, Carolyn Everson, as the next president. But the truth is, Instacart is getting talent from all over Big Tech.

  • Instacart has picked up leaders from companies like LinkedIn, Uber, Google and Amazon over the past year. In addition to Simo and Everson, two were hired from Google, two from Uber and others from Amazon, Goldman Sachs, Airbnb and LinkedIn.

The vision here is growth. An Instacart spokesperson said some companies, like Facebook, Uber, Google and Amazon, have "done what we're doing at scale," which is part of the reason people came to work for Instacart.

  • What exactly is Instacart doing at scale? For one, it began upscaling its ads department last year by allowing food products to market their businesses themselves on Instacart's app and website.
  • The spokesperson said Instacart's fastest-growing areas include advertising, data and analytics, and product.
  • And among Instacart's leaders, seasoned execs from places like Google and Amazon are helping to grow the company's ads.

Big Tech execs are only part of it. In 2020, Instacart's staff grew 50%, and it's trying to expand by another 50% this year across nearly all of its teams, the spokesperson said.

  • Like the company's new leaders, many of those less senior hires come from Amazon, Google and Facebook.
  • In fact, Instacart hired a roughly equal number of employees from those three companies over the past year, totaling nearly 200 of the company's new hires, according to a Protocol analysis using LinkedIn data.
  • The majority of those hires now work in the company's fast-growing departments. Take, for example, the company's Facebook hires over the past year: Instacart hired around 70 people from Big Blue; around 25 of those work in engineering, 15 in product and seven in data.

Photo: Protocol

All signs point to an IPO. Experts said the volume of Big Tech hires isn't unusual; Instacart likely wants people with a track record of success, and those coming in could see a chance to take a leading role in a company that may go public sooner rather than later.

  • "Like many, they are taking a leadership role in their space, and talent likes to be where other talent is arriving," said Nada Usina, who leads the tech sector at management consulting firm Russell Reynolds Associates.
  • Knowing Instacart is on track for an IPO is also particularly attractive, Usina said: "The opportunity for companies like Instacart to attract people is that you have a chance to impact probably more in a pre-IPO setting than you would in a much more structured environment."

But Instacart still has a long road ahead. Expanding the company's staff again this year is a big feat, and Instacart is up against other ecommerce platforms for online ads. But it's putting the infrastructure in place to become a major player in online advertising and eventually, it could position itself well enough for a public offering.

— Sarah Roach (email | twitter)

A version of this story ran today on Protocol.com.

A MESSAGE FROM CHAINALYSIS

Ransomware victims paid over $416 million worth of cryptocurrency to attackers in 2020, more than quadrupling 2019 totals. As of July 2021, we know that ransomware attackers have taken in at least $210 million worth of cryptocurrency from victims. Shouldn't we just ban crypto? The answer is no. Cryptocurrency is actually instrumental in fighting ransomware.

Learn More

People Are Talking

Twitter is tweaking some of its recent cosmetic changes after accessibility complaints, including one from design researcher Alex Haagaard:

  • "When the update hit, I could immediately feel pain in my eyes, and within about half an hour, I was having a tension headache."

Craig Federighi said Apple's new child privacy tools were "widely misunderstood." He tried to clear the air:

  • "Introducing these two features at the same time was a recipe for this kind of confusion."
  • The company also told its employees to prepare to answer questions about the changes.

Hironobu Sakaguchi said he wants what will probably be his last game, Fantasian, to fit his gaming style:

  • "Let's be honest, I'm nearing the end of my video game development career. So I thought, 'I'm going to try to develop something in a style I know really, really well and personally like to play.'"

On Protocol Gaming: New World looks like Amazon's first hit video game, and game director Scot Lane said it's because Amazon learned to listen:

  • "If there's anything we've learned in the last few years, the more we engage players the better it is for everyone. The game is going to get bigger and bigger over time and it's going to be based on what they're asking for."

Coming this week

WorldFestival begins tomorrow. The three-day event includes speakers and expos on a bunch of tech topics, from space to robotics.

Mobile Payment Conference also starts tomorrow. The virtual convention includes three days of training and networking in industries like banking and security.

Tesla's AI Day is on Thursday. Elon Musk is expected to deliver a keynote, and attendees could hear about the company's efforts in supercomputing and neural networks.

Facebook will host its first-ever paid movie premiere on Thursday. The platform will show "The Outsider," a documentary about the construction of the Sept. 11 memorial in New York. It will cost $3.99 to watch.

In Other News

  • On Protocol | Policy: There's a growing movement to treat Facebook like a "common carrier," and regulate it the same way as airlines, railroads and phone companies. That approach isn't going to work.
  • Don't miss this story on the culture struggle at Twitter. As the company has pushed to ship faster, The New York Times reported, it has changed the way employees interact, and Dantley Davis in particular has caused some internal strife at the company.
  • Government officials want to examine extremism online. The Department of Homeland Security is weighing hiring private companies to look through social media posts for possible signs of violent extremism, at home or abroad. But some officials worry the plan would give the government too much control.
  • T-Mobile is looking into a possible customer data breach. A forum post claims to have obtained personal information, like names and Social Security numbers, connected to over 100 million people from T-Mobile servers.
  • Three major union leaders are at odds with Amazon. The presidents of the three groups stepped down from their roles in the National Consumers League, a longstanding consumer advocacy organization, saying Amazon's funding to the organization undermined its mission.
  • On Protocol | Workplace: Airbnb is getting rid of forced arbitration for sexual assault claims by hosts and guests. The company made a similar change for its employees a few years ago.
  • Some tech workers are working two full-time jobs remotely — but their employers don't know about their side hustle. Employees say the two jobs are helping them pay for everything from student loans to a new sports car, but they also admit that it's nerve-racking.
  • The CEO of internet fact-checking site Snopes plagiarized. David Mikkelson got his publishing rights on the platform revoked after saying he plagiarized dozens of Snopes articles. He apologized but didn't step down from his position.

One More Thing

Nestflix and chill

You probably spend more time scanning for a good show on Netflix than you do watching anything. But that's fine; sometimes scrolling and reading movie descriptions is half the fun.

Nestflix, not to be confused with Netflix, lets you do just that — and only that. The site looks like a streaming site, but you can't actually watch anything. Instead, it's a place to browse all the shows and movies created ... by your favorite shows and movies. You know, like "The Rural Juror" from "30 Rock" or Michael Scott's opus, "Threat Level Midnight." Browsing the site, you'd never know it was all fake stuff, which makes it even better. And seriously, please, someone actually make "Angels with Filthy Souls" before Christmas this year so we can all live out our "Home Alone" fantasies.

A MESSAGE FROM CHAINALYSIS

The key to tackling ransomware is disrupting the ransomware supply chain — developers, affiliates, infrastructure services providers, launderers and cashout points — and the blockchain is the only data source that ties these actors together. So while it may seem counterintuitive at first, ransomware groups' use of cryptocurrency for ransom payments is actually beneficial to ransomware investigations.

Learn More

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