• From The Information:
"Instacart has long primed itself for a much-watched public debut, keeping its regulatory filings up to date and improving profits. But one new factor may delay a public debut: a slowdown in growth.
"In the first quarter, Instacart saw its gross order volume grow between 5% and 10% compared to the same period last year, people briefed on the matter said. That compares with 16% for all of 2022, when gross order volume - the dollar value of orders flowing through a marketplace before the company takes a cut from fees from customers and grocery retailers - reached $29 billion. Order volume is an indicator of revenue. The firm’s net revenue, which includes a growing pool of advertising dollars, couldn't be learned.
"The slowdown could illustrate that the grocery-delivery firm is still dealing with the aftershocks of Covid-19, which have made growth more uneven. Instacart saw a huge spike in orders in 2020, as the pandemic began, and then again in January last year, when the Omicron variant of Covid-19 swept the U.S. Instacart's growth also compares unfavorably with the performance of publicly traded restaurant-delivery firms DoorDash and Uber, which reported year-over-year growth in gross delivery bookings delivery growth of 29% and 12% last quarter, respectively."
• From The Information:
"Amazon is building a team to work on artificial intelligence tools that will generate photos and videos for merchants to use in advertising campaigns on its platform, a company spokesperson confirmed, efforts that could help diversify its ad business.
"Amazon's ad business has grown by double-digit percentages every quarter since Amazon started breaking out its revenue in 2021. It brought in $38 billion last year but currently centers on ads that give merchants a boost in search results. However, Amazon is trying to build a broader ad business, including through selling spots on its free video-streaming service, Freevee, as well as during Thursday Night Football broadcasts on Prime Video. The company also sells audio ads on Amazon Music and even runs digital ads on screens inside Amazon Fresh grocery stores, among other efforts."
The story notes that "Amazon is looking to push sellers toward new ad formats with generative AI … Amazon’s hiring for AI ad roles comes despite cost cutting that’s seen the company slash 27,000 jobs, including some within the ads division."