In a sea of food delivery apps, Postmates stands out not because of its business or employment model, but because of its tentativeness towards food delivery. Postmates CEO Bastian Lehmann has repeatedly said he runs an on-demand logistics platform, and “food to Postmates is what books were to Amazon”.
At launch, Postmates marketed itself as the new Craigslist. Buyers in San Francisco could have anything, from flowers to refrigerators, delivered in two to four hours. It was primarily targeted at small businesses, and took a few years to pivot to consumers.
For the first two years, Postmates survived payment to payment, without the yearly billion dollar funding rounds we see today. In 2013, the Founder’s Fund invested $5 million, which legitimized the industry and caused a wave of further investments. A few months later, DoorDash and Instacart would both land large series A rounds.
Food delivery shouldn’t have worked on Postmates. It had a flat $9.99 delivery fee, while its rivals Grubhub and DoorDash offered delivery for far lower prices. However, in California people were more than willing to pay the delivery charge for their favourites.
In 2015, Postmates finally lowered its delivery fee to $3.99 for preferred merchants, who would be featured prominently on the platform. It also was the first to launch a pro service, Unlimited, which waivers the delivery charge for all orders over $30 for $9.99 a month.
Postmates has courted some controversy for its ‘deliver everything’ mantra, often going against the wishes of restaurants and businesses. In 2015, several business owners complained about Postmates taking delivery orders without receiving permission.
As more on-demand delivery services launched, Postmates saw its market share tumble, as Uber Eats and DoorDash supplanted Grubhub. It continued to see growth in some cities, like Los Angeles and Charlotte, NC, but was far behind the leaders in total US marketshare.
In 2018, DoorDash attempted to merge the two companies, to fend off Grubhub and Uber Eats. Postmates declined the offer, which led to DoorDash acquiring Caviar from Square. Two years later, Postmates sided with Uber in a $2.65 billion acquisition. It recently laid off 15 percent of Postmates workers, but has not said anything about merging the platforms.
Postmates key statistics
- Postmates generated $500 million revenue in 2019. We estimate revenue increased to $880 million in 2020, although Postmates has not disclosed any official numbers
- Postmates has 10 million monthly active users, who order five million items a month
- Over 600,000 merchants are partners on Postmates
- Uber acquired Postmates in 2020 for $2.65 billion
|Launch date||1 May 2011|
|HQ||San Francisco, California|
|People||Bastian Lehman (CEO), Sean Plaice (CTO), Dara Khosrowshahi (Uber CEO)|
Postmates deliveries per month
Postmates funding (total)
Note: Uber paid $2.65 billion to acquire Postmates in 2020.
Note: Percentages may be inflated due to Postmates also delivering non-food goods.
Postmates US food delivery marketshare vs competitors
What is Postmates annual sales volume?
Postmates surpassed $1 billion in total sales volume in 2018 (CNBC)
How many Postmates customers subscribe to its Unlimited service?
23 percent of Postmates customers subscribe to its premium service, according to Second Measure
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