Instacart has brought on Mark Schaaf as Chief Technology Officer.
Schaaf previously held positions at AdMob, which was acquired by Google in 2009 for $750 million. From there, he went on to build and lead a team at Google within the mobile display ad business. In 2015, Schaaf left Google to join Thumbtack as CTO.
Schaaf has been working on marketplace businesses since 2006, and explained that Instacart represents a particularly interesting marketplace to continue scaling.
“Thumbtack is a more consumer-focused marketplace with local service professionals and consumers, but Instacart gets even more complex,” said Schaaf. “It’s a four-sided marketplace, and then you overlay it with logistics. The goal is to make the physical world better with technology, and to build a tech core that solves a problem in the physical world.”
Though the company wouldn’t disclose current numbers around engineers, Schaaf plans to double the size of the engineering team by the end of 2019. According to Schaaf, there are a number of different marketplace dynamics at play to keep the engineering team busy: balancing supply and demand, logistics and routing, efficient batching and routing, and overlaying geography to all of that.
“When you think of all that, it brings up the classic engineering problem of the traveling salesman,” said Schaaf. “This will take a lot of data science modeling and algorithmic work, a lot of AI and machine learning, to make Instacart as efficient as possible.”
Instacart has been on a bit of a hiring spree lately, bringing on David Hahn as Chief Product Officer and Dani Dudeck as its first Chief Communications Officer. TechCrunch also learned that Instacart’s Chief Growth Officer Elliot Shmukler made plans to leave last month, which may signal that another C-Suite hire is imminent.