Food delivery startup Instacart raises $220M, now valued at $2B

The market for grocery services that deliver food to your door — a market that for many investors is still synonymous with the worst excesses of the tech bubble of the late 1990s — seems to be heating up: Instacart, which raised a $44-million financing round just a few months ago, has apparently closed a second round worth more than $200 million that values the two-year-old company at close to $2 billion.

Re/code disclosed the news of the new financing on Tuesday, based on a filing that the company made with the U.S. securities regulator, and said that sources believe the financing round — which is being led by Kleiner Perkins Caulfield Byers — could be as high as $220 million. The previous round was led by Andreessen Horowitz.

Instacart is one of a number of companies that are pursuing the home-delivery market, including Amazon’s Fresh, Google Express, Postmates and FreshDirect. One of the differences between Instacart and many of its competitors is that it doesn’t carry any inventory itself, but negotiates deals with a variety of retailers.

The company’s CEO, Apoorva Mehta, told the New York Times that Instacart is expecting to have revenues of about $100 million in 2014, which would be about 10 times what it made the previous year.

For many of those who remember the investment bubble of the late 1990s, grocery delivery brings to mind names like Webvan and Kozmo, both of which were highly touted as the solution to home delivery, only to flame out quickly as the market crashed. The assets of Webvan, which went bankrupt in 2001, were eventually acquired by Amazon and are now part of Amazon Fresh.

Saving Face(book): When do you hire a pro CEO?

zuckerberg500big.jpgWhen is the time right for a founder to give up the CEO post? It’s a question you will likely have to ask yourself — if your company is at all successful.

I’ve had this founders’ dilemma on the brain ever since I read last week’s Wall Street Journal feature on Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO Seeks Help as Site Grows Up, following his company’s announcement, Mar. 4, that it had hired Googler Sheryl Sandberg as COO.

Facebook ‘s board obviously senses that the company needs more adult supervision, but the piece makes clear that Zuckerberg has no intention of giving up the top job yet. So I read with keenest interest this graph the WSJ piece:

Mr. Zuckerberg’s experience is emblematic of Silicon Valley’s accelerated culture, where startups change more in a few years than most companies do in decades — forcing CEO-founders to adapt quickly in order to survive in their roles. The founders of Google, Yahoo Inc. and eBay Inc. all handed the reins to outsider CEOs within three years of founding their companies.

Is Zuckerberg adapting enough? I’m not so sure. Then yesterday I read GigaOM colleague Stacey Higginbotham’s column, Zuckerberg Isn’t About the Money, published from SXSW… Read More about Saving Face(book): When do you hire a pro CEO?