Postmates CEO Addresses Rumors of a Possible Sale
Postmates CEO Bastian Lehmann on Wednesday reiterated that his goal is to take the company public even as rumors swirl that the company is looking to be bought.
“The official line is I can’t comment,” he said, only to later say, “Our plan is to take it public.”
Lehmann told attendees at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, Colo. that it’s common for companies planning to go public to get inquiries from other industry players about the possibility of selling. He also wasn’t sure where the rumors were coming from.
Last week, reports surfaced that Postmates was exploring a sale, courting larger competitors like DoorDash and Uber, as well as Walmart. The news came five months after Postmates said it confidentially filed for an initial public offering. At the time of filing, the company operated in 2,940 U.S. cities and Mexico.
If Postmates does follow through with its plans for an IPO, it would join companies including Uber, Lyft, and Pinterest, all of which went public earlier this year.
Since it confidentially filed, Postmates has grown its footprint to cover 3,500 cities and debuted a new free delivery service called Postmates Party, which now accounts for 15% of the company’s orders. It also has been working to improve its new delivery rover that it’s piloting in Los Angeles.
The delivery robot, called Serve, currently functions as semi-autonomous vehicle, using sensors to navigate sidewalks with remote operators standing by in case they need to step in. Postmates built Serve in house, giving it a cartoon-like appearance with two round illuminated cameras that look like eyes.
When asked about what Postmates does with the data its Serve rover collects, Lehmann joked that Serve would stay true to Silicon Valley’s reputation.
“We’ll do like everyone else and just sell to highest bidder,” he said, spurring laughter from the audience. “Given that I was born in Germany, maybe its part of my evil plan.”
The reality is Serve presently only roams on public sidewalks, delivering small loads within short distances. The current version is the first iteration of the bot, which Postmates has also tested in a senior living community.
The bot has spatial awareness and opens up after it reaches its destination and senses the customer approaching it. Future versions of the bot could feature more interaction between Serve and the customer, Lehmann said.
But Lehmann doesn’t expect it to ever replace any of its 400,000 contract delivery workers, he said.
“It will help, it will augment, it will make things possible that weren’t possible before,” he said. “They are here to help us fulfill the dream of having an infrastructure that can deliver goods locally at close to zero cost.”
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