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The food delivery wars may have hit their peak - and alternative data highlights an unlikely winner

2 months ago by Jon Marino in Consumer

Postmates ($POSTMATES) is pulling out of Mexico City, according to a CNBC report. And The Information says Doordash ($DOORDASH) losses are more than $400 million. They may get you dinner, but those food delivery startups aren't delivering profits to anyone. Yet

Even Grubhub ($NYSE:GRUB) stock is down more than 40% so far this year - and it's consistently knocked out profitable quarters. Similarly, job postings are down in the 40% range for Grubhub (not shown). It's just another signal that the food delivery wars may have gotten a bit overheated - and now, US disruptors are appearing to have a little more difficulty navigating international restaurant markets with their apps, the way Uber and Lyft were more easily able to hop over barriers to entry with individual drivers. 

Once upon a time - that is, around the time WeWork's over-hyped IPO prospectus was being rejected by rightly squirrely investors - Both Postmates and Doordash were growing at record pace, tacking on new staffers with Uber-esque hopes of bounding into new markets - like Mexico City - but there was a recent reversal in their job posting trends. Postmates has 34% fewer jobs since its peak this fall, and Doordash postings are down 25%. 

Postmates bailed on Mexico City, and part of what might have made its development difficult there is the prevalance of Rappi ($RAPPI), a Colombian startup that does exactly the same thing for precisely the same restaurants. Today, Rappi is posting more jobs than Postmates. And Doordash. Combined.

And Rappi's still growing - although not at the same pace it once was. Our chart above tracks Rappi job postings, which are up an impressive 525% since late February, when we began tracking their data. 

Our final chart tracks Google Play ratings - which is a helpful proxy on how often a product is downloaded. Rappi recently tacked on $1 billion in funding from - wait for it! - Softbank, but at a $2.5 valuation that, at least with the data above, appears to have been a great deal. 

Doordash's valuation crossed the $10 billion mark a while ago (plus it's grown via M&A), and Postmates' valuation is a bit more conservative - perhaps reflecting its overall scale. But seeing Rappi's ratings count surpass Doordash's in 2019 is a terrific sign for the Colombian startup, making it potentially the one food service app with the potential to deliver real returns to its investors. 

About the Data: 

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

Further Reading: 

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Jon Marino

Jon Marino is Thinknum's finance editor, covering the impacts of alternative data on public companies and investors. Prior to joining Thinknum, Jon worked in the ...

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