Sally, the salad-making robot, has a new home.
San Francisco delivery service DoorDash said Monday that it has bought Hayward's Chowbotics, which makes Sally, an autonomous kiosk that can whip up dozens of made-to-order salad combinations with little human intervention. Chowbotics' robots can also produce customizable grain and poke bowls, parfaits, cereals and snacks. Diners select their choices on a touchscreen that shows nutrition information.
DoorDash presented the purchase, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, as a win for the restaurants for which it delivers meals, with automated food production allowing them to add new menu items or expand to new locations. It did not disclose terms of the deal, which closed last year.
"What excites us most about Chowbotics is that the team has developed a remarkable tool for helping merchants grow," Stanley Tang, DoorDash co-founder, said in a statement. "Bringing Chowbotics' technology into the DoorDash (offering) gives us a new opportunity to help merchants expand their current menu offerings and reach new customers in new markets."
The pandemic and shelter-in-place have ramped up demand for food deliveries from homebound consumers. DoorDash saw its shares rocket 85% when it went public on the New York Stock Exchange in December.
Likewise, the pandemic also accelerated demand for Chowbotics' touch-free approach to food prep.
"We were one of those lucky companies that had the solution ideally suited for the circumstances that changed the way people function as a result of COVID-19," Chowbotics CEO Rick Wilmer said in the summer.
DoorDash, with about half of U.S. restaurant deliveries, is the leader in a market that has begun to consolidate. Rival Uber last week spent $1.1 billion for alcohol-delivery service Drizly, which it will use to boost Uber Eats. Last year Uber bought smaller San Francisco delivery service Postmates for $2.65 billion in stock. Another rival, GrubHub, plans to merge with Just Eat Takeaway, based in the U.K.
Chowbotics, founded seven years ago, said its fridge-sized robots are used in hundreds of locations, including hospitals, grocery stores and universities, including the University of San Francisco.
"As the leader in food delivery and on-demand logistics, DoorDash has the unparalleled reach and expertise to help us grow and deploy our technology more broadly, so together, we can make fresh, nutritious food easy for more people," Wilmer said in a statement.
At a 2018 conference on food technology, Deepak Sekar, Chowbotics' founder and former CEO, said the company was surprised when initially workers at company cafeterias needed hands-on instruction to use Sally. Since those were high-turnover jobs, more training would continuously be required, he said.
That inspired Chowbotics to "create an Apple-like experience so people could take it out of the box and use it without any training," Sekar said.
- 'My mum killed my dad but I want her freed'
- YOU Mag's top 100 wellness tips
- 'From the big fry to the selection box'
- What do top chefs cheat at when making Christmas lunch?
- Norfolk producer makes some of the best black pudding in the country
- Christmas recipe: Mandarin ice cream
- Conor Pope
- Top 100 Russian and Soviet movies
- POLITICO Brussels Playbook, presented by The Boeing Company: The memes are safe — Don’t mention migration — Freudian tweets
- The $10m spy who worked for FBI and MI5 inside dissident republicanism
- New economy, traditional economy and collapse
- Business review 2018: House prices soar, Ryanair and bank shares fall but food exports surge
- US charges Huawei with fraud, conspiracy
DoorDash buys Chowbotics, maker of Sally, the salad-serving robot have 586 words, post on www.sfchronicle.com at February 8, 2021. This is cached page on Game Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.