With SoftBank supposedly considering a $750M investment into robotic pizza startup Zume, we look at how the deal could fit into a larger strategy for both players.
Zume uses robotic chefs to prepare pizzas in its Silicon Valley kitchen, and equips its delivery trucks with a patented system of ovens, which automatically finish cooking the pizzas in the backs of the trucks on the way to shoppers’ homes.
The robo-chefs help Zume ship hundreds of pizzas per hour from a single kitchen, while Zume uses the truck-based ovens to deliver piping hot pizza to people’s doors seconds after they finish baking.
The startup has patented its automatic ovens, below. We’ve previously written about Zume in more detail here.
For SoftBank, this would look like a platform play rather than a pizza play.
So far Zume just serves pizza, but it plans to adapt its cooking robots to other foods and license its technology to other restaurants and delivery services (a potential B2B pivot). If the deal closes, SoftBank could use Zume to compete with not just Domino’s and Pizza Hut, but TriMark, Seamless/GrubHub, and others.
Zume also fits in well with SoftBank’s existing businesses.
SoftBank’s recent investment into direct-to-consumer CPG startup Brandless also fits with the potential Zume investment. Brandless emphasizes the speed and efficiency of its supply chains.
Down the road, SoftBank could use self-driving technology developed by Didi Chuxing, General Motors (where SoftBank invested $2.25B), and others to help Zume create autonomous pizza baking-and-delivery trucks.
Of course, we can’t predict what’s going on behind the scenes at SoftBank. But, as it increases its presence in food ingredient sourcing, food retail, and food delivery, it’s looking better positioned to take on brands, restaurants, and last-mile delivery services.
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