Are rivals snacking on Instacart’s core grocery delivery market?

Few companies had as good a pandemic run as Instacart. The company’s service saw huge demand gains, leading to waves of venture capital interest.

The Exchange explores startups, markets and money.

Read it every morning on TechCrunch+ or get The Exchange newsletter every Saturday.

From a late 2018 funding cycle that valued the U.S. grocery delivery company at around $7.9 billion, per PitchBook data, Instacart went on to raise $325 million at a $13.8 billion valuation in July 2020. The pandemic sent many folks home — and to their phones to order foodstuffs — to Instacart’s benefit.

But that was just the start. PitchBook indicates that Instacart raised again in October 2020, adding $200 million more to its accounts at a $17.7 billion valuation. And then in March 2021, Instacart raised a further $265 million at a valuation of around $39 billion. (You can cross-check the PitchBook data with Crunchbase here, if you’d like.)

Few startups reach the $1 billion valuation threshold. Far fewer make it to the $5 billion mark before going public. And only a true handful get to $10 billion or more. A nearly $40 billion pre-money valuation is stupendous, and puts immense pressure on the company to generate the sort of numbers that public-market investors will expect from a richly valued tech company.

But it turns out that Instacart is seeing its growth rate plateau in 2021, per reporting at The Information. What’s going on?

Instacart’s growth

The Information’s Berber Jin reports that after Instacart tripled its revenues to $1.5 billion in 2020 when compared to 2019, its growth rate has moderated to around a 10% rate this year. Though, she adds, the company’s Q3 revenue growth was doing better, up around 20% on a year-over-year basis. [Update: This paragraph updated to reflect the correct author of The Information’s piece.]

The Exchange reached out to the company about the various data points, but it declined to comment on the record.

After reading Clark’s piece, I decided to collect information from the company’s various competitors. Let’s talk about Amazon, Walmart, DoorDash and Uber, companies that may be snacking on Instacart’s core business.