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What Uber wants with Grubhub

What Uber wants with Grubhub

Good morning! This Wednesday, Uber might want to take over Grubhub, tech companies are making back-to-work plans, and I'm angling for an invite to Travis Kalanick's new house.

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People Are Talking

On Protocol: Uber may be trying to buy Grubhub, but Congressman David Cicilline doesn't like the idea:

  • "Its attempt to acquire Grubhub — which has a history of exploiting local restaurants through deceptive tactics and extortionate fees — marks a new low in pandemic profiteering. We cannot allow these corporations to monopolize food delivery, especially amid a crisis that is rendering American families and local restaurants more dependent than ever on these very services." (More on this below.)

If you don't think VR has had its mainstream moment, Within's Chris Milk said you're missing what's right before your eyes:

  • "We see the Quest as a watershed moment in VR. The all-in-one design, the price point and the simplicity drove us to build a product like this now. I'm not sure we ever would have set out on this journey if it hadn't been for that headset."

Social distancing and remote work can actually be a boon to WeWork, new CEO Sandeep Mathrani said:

  • "It's very easy to reconfigure our spaces to make them safe for employees. It's not a conventional space where you have walls, you have cubicles that can't be relocated so quickly … you should think of us as flexible. Flexible means you can de-densify, you can spread out the location as people come to work."

The Big Story

What Uber wants with Grubhub

After Bloomberg reported that Uber had approached Grubhub with an acquisition offer, both companies' stocks shot up. Investors clearly like the idea of delivery consolidation — that's always been the bet, that if a company can win the market it can figure out how to turn a money-pit into a money-tree.

The delivery world has been consolidating for some time to that very end:

  • It wasn't that long ago that restaurants had to use a half-dozen apps and devices to keep track of all the orders coming from Thistle, Munchery, Sprig, Seamless and countless others.
  • Now the market's dominated by four players: DoorDash, Uber Eats, Grubhub, and Postmates. (Postmates is a distant fourth.) Grubhub's been reportedly looking for a buyer for months, and Uber and DoorDash talked about a merger last year.
  • Meanwhile, Uber Eats has been exiting markets where it's not one of the leaders. Dara Khosrowshahi told investors that "we believe that we can get to number one or number two position in a significant number of markets in which we compete." If not? Uber would find something else to do.

If Uber did buy Grubhub, here's how it might reshape U.S. food delivery:

  • Uber would corner upwards of 48% of the meal-delivery market, according to Second Measure's data, putting it ahead of DoorDash (42%) and essentially turning the U.S. into a two-company delivery country. It would almost exactly double the total gross sales coming from Eats.
  • Uber Eats would immediately own the huge New York market, where Grubhub has 62% market share — and where, notably, Eats hasn't been much of a player. It would also give Uber newfound top-two status in Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles and elsewhere.

Of course, all this growth assumes that people only use one delivery service, which is of course not the case. But there aren't many major U.S. cities where both Grubhub and Eats have been successful — so the overlap might not be all that great.

But would the acquisition pass antitrust scrutiny? And there's also the chance that another player tries to spoil this party — Protocol's Biz Carson told me her pet theory is that Amazon could swoop in and bid on Grubhub.

For more on the possible deal, and what happens next, check out Biz's story with Shakeel Hashim on Protocol.

The Office

Checking in on the back-to-work calendar

Yesterday, Twitter made a bold proclamation: Most of its employees will never have to go back to the office, if they don't want to. Twitter's been moving toward a more remote workforce anyway, but this is still a big move for a company that has a giant logo on the side of a San Francisco building.

Other tech companies are starting to give tentative schedules for when they'll be back in the office. So, as we'll do here periodically, let's have a look at the current plans:

  • Apple: Already beginning to bring some people back to the office, with larger offices starting to fill up in late May and early June.
  • Google: Planning to start opening offices in June, but told most employees to expect to work from home until the end of 2020.
  • Facebook: Will open most of its offices starting on July 6th, but also allowing employees to work from home through the end of the year.
  • Salesforce: No specific date recently — it had floated June 1 a few weeks ago — but CEO Marc Benioff just told Axios, "I hope that actually we're weeks away from that and not months away from that."
  • Slack: Not planning to fully reopen offices until at least September 1.
  • Amazon: White-collar employees who want to can work from home until at least October 2. It's not clear when offices will first start to open.
  • Microsoft: No date for office openings yet, but work-from-home is allowed through October.

In general, "stay home until 2021 if you can" seems to be the most common answer so far. Others are punting to the fall, when they'll reassess. But it'll be interesting to see if anyone follows Twitter's lead in making remote work a permanent perk.

When's your company going back to work? What do you think about heading back to the office? I'd love to hear your thoughts: david@protocol.com.

A MESSAGE FROM PALO ALTO NETWORKS

Palo Alto Networks

Your growing remote workforce comes with an exponential growth of security challenges. Join this live webcast to hear from leading cybersecurity experts on how you can lower your organization's cybersecurity risk and ensure business continuity—plus a chance to have your questions answered in a live Q&A.

Join us here.

Moderation

What Facebook's enforcement report says about Facebook

Facebook's latest Community Standards Enforcement Report came out yesterday. Sounds thrilling, right? It is! This one's particularly interesting because it reflects the start of Facebook's shift to AI-based moderation tools, after it sent everyone home due to coronavirus.

A few interesting takeaways:

  • Virality is increasing. Facebook is removing more content from the platform all the time, but it's not lots of different things — the company attributed the increase to "a few pieces of violating content that were shared widely."
  • AI tools are improving fast. When it comes to nudity, or hate speech, Facebook said its AI moderators are now good enough to find things they used to miss. "We've made really fast strides," said CTO Mike Schroepfer, on a call with reporters.
  • But AI mods don't see everything. For categories like bullying and harassment, Facebook said it's still hugely reliant on human moderators — and with COVID-19 sending all those mods home, there's been less oversight of that kind of content.

As for that first test of increased AI moderation, the report only covers the first few weeks of the lockdowns. The next report will show how that shift has really gone.

  • Schroepfer told reporters that while the company was initially "very concerned" about how that might play out, Facebook focused its efforts on the most problematic content — to do with things like terrorism and suicide.
  • And it seems to be relieved by how it's going so far. "At this point we're just day-to-day trying to do our best to manage the site," Schroepfer said.

The wild thing about Facebook is that the platform's scale just crushes context. So while Facebook disabled 1.7 billion fake accounts in the first three months of 2020, mostly before users noticed, it still estimates 5% of the platform is fake accounts. Which would be more than 125 million accounts.

Instagram also shows up in the report, and its moderation tools don't seem to be as sophisticated as the big blue app:

  • In almost every category, Instagram is more reliant on users to report offending content than Facebook is — it takes proactive action far less frequently.
  • The overall numbers are much lower as well, even accounting for the difference in user base, which suggests that either Instagram is an inherently nicer platform or that its tools just don't work as well. (My guess: it's a little of both.)

Making Moves

Mark Potter is retiring from his role as HPE's CTO, as the company restructures its entire leadership team under CEO Antonio Neri. Neri created an Executive Committee of business group leaders, all of whom report to him.

Life360 hired Russell Burke as its new CFO. He's previously worked at Magic Leap, Pressplay, Weight Watchers and elsewhere.

In Other News

  • On Protocol: Companies from Missoula to New Orleans are competing to be the next hubs for tech workers. But first they have to grapple with the long-term effects of the pandemic.
  • Don't miss this story from Wired about Marcus Hutchins, the man who stopped the ultra-dangerous WannaCry attack — and was arrested by the FBI soon after.
  • Waymo raised another $750 million, The Wall Street Journal reported, which means it's now raised $3 billion in the last few months. With an increasing sense that this could be The Moment (or at least Another Moment) for autonomous cars, Waymo's making sure it's ready.
  • Facebook is behind a new pro-tech group called American Edge that plans to blanket the airwaves in ads and double down on lobbying to try to promote tech's place in the economy.
  • Facebook will pay $52 million to moderators who were diagnosed with PTSD while on the job for the company. The company will pay at least $1,000 each to 11,250 moderators, and more for those diagnosed with other conditions as well.
  • Telegram is shutting down its blockchain project, called TON. Telegram CEO Pavel Durov blamed "a U.S. court" for stopping the project, and railed against American control of the global financial system.

One More Thing

The perks of getting forced out of Uber

Last month, an undisclosed buyer paid $43.3 million for the Bellagio estate, an enormous home in Los Angeles with two swimming pools, a 7,000-bottle wine cellar and enough wood beams to make the Amazon (the rainforest one) nervous. Turns out the buyer was Travis Kalanick! He added the house to his stable of high-priced real estate — and actually got it for a steal, given the property's original $75 million price. I'm just saying, the 20,000-square-foot house would make for a heck of a cloud kitchen, but somehow I don't think that's what Kalanick is planning.

A MESSAGE FROM PALO ALTO NETWORKS

Palo Alto Networks

Your growing remote workforce comes with an exponential growth of security challenges. Join this live webcast to hear from leading cybersecurity experts on how you can lower your organization's cybersecurity risk and ensure business continuity—plus a chance to have your questions answered in a live Q&A.

Join us here.

Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to me, david@protocol.com, or our tips line, tips@protocol.com. Enjoy your day, see you tomorrow.

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