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Uber-Eats-screenshot.jpeg Uber Eats
Uber is adding a social element to its restaurant listings pages.

Tech Tracker: Uber Eats launches a TikTok-like social feed for operators

Plus, DoorDash and Wendy’s partner for drone deliveries, and several more M&A moves in the industry

Digital marketing is top of mind for most restaurant operators these days: according to Informa’s second annual Restaurant Technology Outlook report, improving marketing and customer engagement is a top objective for 36% of operators over the next year. While tools such as consumer data, loyalty and rewards programs, and AI-backed marketing capabilities, are all part of the conversation, could delivery platforms join the fray?

Uber recently announced the launch of Uber Eats Videos as part of a new package of operator-based features meant to expand the horizons of Uber Eats’ capabilities, including a new app for restaurant managers. Uber Eats Videos is a TikTok-like social video feed that lets operators post appetizing videos of their menu items in order to further entice consumers. As social media turns almost entirely to visual mediums, it makes sense that delivery platforms would graduate from static text-based restaurant listings to a more dynamic presence.

In other news this month, the M&A activity in the restaurant tech space is still heating up with acquisitions for Restaurant365, ChowNow, and Wonder. Also, drone delivery continues to try to take off with a new partnership between DoorDash and Wendy’s.

Tech Tracker rounds up what’s happening in the technology sector of the restaurant industry, including news from restaurants, vendors, digital platforms, and third-party delivery companies. Here’s a breakdown of what you need to know and why:   

Uber Eats Videos launches as operator-run social video feed

Uber Eats recently announced the launch of several new operator features in celebration of the company reaching one million merchant partners. The most notable of these features is Uber Eats Videos, which brings a TikTok-like social video feed to the food delivery platform.

The platform is letting operators post videos — free of charge — to their listings on Uber, which gives a visual element to customers scrolling through the Uber app to try to find something to eat. On the customer end, consumers will see a “Top Dishes” section in their app, which lets them explore videos “handpicked dishes by [the Uber] team,” and they can also see videos in a rotating carousel and get suggestions for similar dishes. Operators can post videos of dishes being made and packaged to entice consumers to click the delivery button. The feature is currently being tested in San Francisco, New York City, and Toronto.  

“In the case of Uber Eats Videos, we aimed to create a first-of-its kind product for delivery platforms that helps showcase some of the great meals that merchants make and help consumers effortlessly discover new dishes,” Awaneesh Verma, global head of product for Uber Eats, said. “We think it could be a successful way to help restaurants showcase and sell their food more beautifully and visually to appeal to consumers. We’re also excited about the feature’s potential to help consumers find new dishes.”

Though Uber Eats is not the first platform to offer restaurant-specific social video opportunities (Tech Tracker previously covered Atmosfy doing roughly the same thing with influencers and user-created content), it could be a gamechanger for the delivery platform business model.

Three major restaurant tech acquisitions this month

As NRN had previously predicted, the restaurant tech space will continue to shrink and consolidate as smaller startups and tech innovations are acquired by mid-sized and larger foodservice tech companies. This month was no exception. Here is all the M&A activity we observed this month:

  • Restaurant365 acquires ExpandShare- The restaurant enterprise management platform acquired learning management system ExpandShare earlier this month, which will add AI-driven training content to Restaurant365’s suite of features.
  • ChowNow acquires Cuboh- The online ordering platform acquired Cuboh, a POS integration platform that is designed to help ChowNow become closer to a one-stop-shop for operators.
  • Wonder acquires Relay- One month after announcing a massive fundraising round, food delivery platform Wonder quietly acquired New York City-based delivery competitor, Relay, a deal that will be able to update Wonder’s infrastructure, as first reported by Eater.

More NFT-based restaurants shut down or pivot

Another day, another NFT-based restaurant concept closing or pivoting to another operational model. Last year, the SHO Group NFT club project was officially canceled, and more recently, Starbucks abandoned its metaverse program.

Most recently, the Los Angeles-based Bored & Hungry restaurant (themed after the Bored Ape NFT) has closed, and branding was sold to Hungry DAO. Founder Andy Nguyen told tech blog, Decrypt, that he was still looking for another location for the concept, and that the story for Bore & Hungry might not be over yet.

In other similar news, Flyfish Club — the NFT restaurant that raised $14 million in less than one minute of NFT pre-sales in 2022, but then kept pushing back construction — is now pivoting to accept real money instead of just NFTs, as first reported by Eater.

This move effectively pushes the still-not-yet-open operation into traditional “private club” territory, and further cements the NFT craze as just a passing fad, especially for the hospitality industry.

Wendy’s and DoorDash partner for drone deliveries

DoorDash and drone company Wing, have partnered together with Wendy’s for a drone delivery pilot, starting this spring in Christiansburg, Va. Although NRN has reported on multiple drone delivery tests, this is the first time Wing has specifically initiated a pilot outside of its home country of Australia, and it’s also the first time Wendy’s will be delivering food via drone.

 “At DoorDash, we are committed to advancing last-mile logistics by building a multi-modal delivery platform that serves all sides of our marketplace,” Harrison Shih, senior director of DoorDash Labs, said in a statement. “We’re optimistic about the value drone delivery will bring to our platform as we work to offer more efficient, sustainable, and convenient delivery options for consumers.”

The latest fundraising rounds for restaurant tech startups

Even though it’s likely to slow down eventually, there is still money left in private equity for food tech startups. Here are some of the biggest fundraising rounds NRN observed this month:

  • Delivery Collective, a newly built last-mile delivery service that allows operators to directly serve and manage customers, raised $3.8 million, led by Defy Venture Capitol. The premise of the company is to eliminate the need for third-party aggregators without restaurants having to hire delivery workers themselves.
  • Juicer, a restaurant revenue management and pricing solutions company, raised. $5.3 million in seed funding, led by York IE to develop its data tools.
  • Buyers Edge, a digital procurement solutions platform, announced that it raised $425 million in preferred equity investment from Morgan Stanley, Blackstone, and more big names in the private equity game.
  • Bite, the kiosk software company, has raised $9 million in series A funding, with investments led by Staley Capitol, and a goal of expanding the company’s capabilities.

Contact Joanna at [email protected]m

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