Instacart hires first CTO, emphasizing growing tech team
- Instacart has hired Mark Schaaf as its first chief technology officer, the company told CIO Dive in an email. His primary order of business is to double the size of the company's engineering team by the end of next year, reports TechCrunch.
- Building a technology core to solve a physical problem and logistics means Instacart has many dynamics in play at any given time, from supply chain logistics and planning to efficient routing, Schaaf said, according to TechCrunch. This necessitates a variety of advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and data science modeling to run efficiently.
- Schaaf served as CTO and vice president of engineering at Thumbtack, a digital platform connecting customers to professionals in their area, for more than three and a half years, according to his LinkedIn profile. Previously, he served as senior engineering director for AdMob, which was acquired by Google in 2010. At the time, Schaaf also moved to Google as senior engineering director to integrate AdMob into Google's AdWords and Display platforms.
E-commerce payments are a crucial foundation of Instacart's business model, and Schaaf has years of experience working on digital payments schemes, including Google Wallet, tap and pay and one-click buying, as well as mobile development and advertising.
He joins a crop of Instacart newcomers this summer, including David Hahn as chief product officer and Dani Dudeck as the company's first chief communications officer. Instacart's chief growth officer, Elliot Shmukler, is reportedly leaving the company, opening up another spot for new leadership.
Plans to expand the size of of the company's engineering team follow a May announcement of a $40 million support center in Atlanta, which will have 400 employees to augment Instacart's data analysis, process improvement, customer service and management needs. The company shouldn't have to worry about finding a steady supply of newly graduated tech talent in the emerging technology hub.
Bulking up its technology workforce and capabilities is crucial for the top grocery home delivery service, which is looking to reach 80% of U.S. households by the end of the year. Instacart is facing stiff competition from major grocery retailers and their delivery arms, including Whole Foods and Amazon Prime Now; Walmart and Postmates and DoorDash; and Target and Shipt.
Instacart acquired e-commerce and digital grocery services provider Unata in January, improving its scalability and integrations capabilities. But in February, a glitch in the company's system that led to tip withholding for some employees and overcharges for some customers was disclosed.
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