Just a few months after hitting unicorn status, Gorillas has raised another major round of funding from big-name investors.
German start-up Gorillas has raised nearly $1bn to expand its on-demand grocery delivery business.
The Series C funding round was led by Delivery Hero, the German food and grocery delivery giant that recently took a stake in Deliveroo.
Gorillas also received backing from existing investors including Coatue Management, DST Global and Tencent, as well as new investors G Squared, Alanda Capital, Macquarie Capital, MSA Capital and Thrive Capital.
The fresh funding comes just a few months after the company’s $290m Series B, which brought its valuation to more than $1bn.
Gorillas was founded in Berlin in 2020 by Kağan Sümer and Jörg Kattner, promising grocery deliveries in as little as 10 minutes.
It now operates more than 180 warehouses and has expanded to more than 55 cities in nine countries, including Amsterdam, London, Paris, Madrid, New York and Munich.
The company plans to use the latest funding for its next phase of development. This includes reinforcing its footprint in existing markets and investing in operations, technology and marketing.
“The size of today’s funding round by an extraordinary investment consortium underscores the tremendous market potential that lies ahead of us,” said Sümer, who is CEO of the start-up.
“With Delivery Hero, we have chosen a strong strategic support that is deeply rooted in the global delivery market, and is renowned for having unique experience in sustainably scaling a German company internationally.”
On-demand grocery delivery is a growing area in Europe that’s attracting investor attention.
On an industrial estate outside Swindon, it’s the busiest time of year at Amazon’s newest warehouse in Britain. Black boxes rattle along miles of conveyor belt, carrying everything from toys to painkillers amid a cacophony of alarms and the faint hum of Christmas songs.
“I’m looking around here at anything that might not be right, but it’s actually running very smoothly,” says David Tindal, the general manager of the Swindon fulfilment centre. “The team has been fantastic. We spend the whole year preparing for this peak time, like a good football club preparing for the cup final.”
Known internally as BRS2 – using a naming system based on the nearest big airport (in this case, Bristol) – the warehouse is a vision in gleaming concrete, steel and glass landed on the Wiltshire countryside.
The vast site is a stark reminder of Amazon’s might. As well as upending consumer habits and standing accused of gaining an unfair advantage by paying too little in tax and hollowing out high streets, the company is creating huge distortions in the jobs market. The new depot has created its own gravitational force sucking staff away from other businesses such as care homes.
The latest outpost of Jeff Bezos’s empire also illustrates the shifting economic sands in the western world. In July, the nearby Honda car factory closed – a decision blamed partly on Brexit – with the loss of about 3,000 direct jobs plus thousands more in the supply chain, many of which were high-paying, skilled roles.
Amazon has hired 2,000 staff in a matter of months in Swindon, opening the site earlier than planned at the start of November to exploit the online shopping boom in Britain, and advertising roles as “a job for life, not just for Christmas”.
With hiring bonuses of up to £3,000 at some of its 150 UK warehouses, and starting pay of £11.10 an hour – more than £2 higher than the legal minimum, and above the £9.90 real living wage – the firm is aiming to shake a reputation as one of Britain’s worst employers, notorious for low-paid jobs and bleak working conditions.
For Sue Houldey, the operations director at Coate Water Care, which runs three care homes in the town and six others across the west country, Amazon’s arrival in the area coincides with the toughest hiring challenges of her career.
“We’re competing with Amazon and the big warehouses, as well as hospitality, for the same people. It can be very frustrating,” she says, sitting in the cafe of the Church View nursing home in a quiet residential area of the town.
Coate Water hasn’t lost staff directly to Amazon, but competition for a slim pool of candidates is fierce. Insufficient funding for social care and soaring fixed costs make it difficult to raise pay much higher than the £8.91-per-hour legal minimum, making a job at the nearby Amazon depot 25% more lucrative.
With more than 100,000 vacancies in the care sector nationwide, many staff are leaving to work for Amazon and other higher-paying jobs across the country. “Nobody wants to discuss it because it’s unpalatable. But the funding that we get doesn’t allow us to pay probably what we want to pay for our staff,” says Houldey.
As with retail, winter is peak time for the care sector, except the stakes are far higher than the rush for Christmas presents. Houldey must meet Care Quality Commission requirements for sufficient staff numbers. “If [you are Amazon and] one of your workers doesn’t turn up, it’s like: hey ho, everyone else can just work a bit harder, or we might not get stuff done. Those rules don’t apply in care. It’s not an equal playing field.”
Official figures show a record 1.2m job vacancies across Britain, with shortages of lorry drivers in particular attracting national attention amid panic-buying of petrol and gaps on supermarket shelves this autumn.
Approaching Christmas, there are many reasons for the employee drought. Britain’s workforce has shrunk since the onset of Covid-19, with more than half a million more people out of work and not looking for a job. as Some have taken early retirement and young people have pushed back the start of their working lives. More than 200,000 EU citizens have left the workforce, and Covid restrictions and Brexit migration rules are limiting arrivals.
With more than a million furloughed workers leaving the scheme after it closed at the end of September, and others looking for a new job in the so-called “great resignation”, job switching has hit record levels.
The arrival of a new warehouse might be hailed by local politicians for “creating jobs”, but switching from an old employer is more likely, in a form of labour market creative destruction with winners and losers.
“When you drop a stone like Amazon into the local labour pool, it makes quite big waves,” says Tony Wilson, the director of the Institute for Employment Studies.
He says the company is following a similar path to McDonald’s two decades ago, when negative media coverage pushed the fast-food chain to clean up its act.
“They have to have good employment practices because there’s so much attention on them. As a consequence, a misconception can form relatively quickly that this is all crap work, and the reality is it isn’t.”
In the ripple effect of Amazon coming to town, Domingos Dias has seen more than 100 of his colleagues leave the Marks & Spencer warehouse (run on an outsourced basis by DHL) where he works. The departures have left resources stretched.
“Where you would have 10 people, 20 people, they now try to do it with five,” he says. “Since Amazon came, they had these opportunities and people went for the better prospects for higher salary.”
The GMB trade union shop steward is pushing for higher pay for employees and agency staff, who are paid less than at Amazon on £9.45 an hour. “Suddenly there was a thing that this new warehouse is coming. The guys who were working for 20 long years on agency contracts, they didn’t have any loyalty for Marks & Spencer and DHL, so they saw this and grabbed the opportunity.”
Pay is rising fast in warehousing work, according to figures from the jobs website Indeed, with the median hourly wage up 11% this year from £9.25 to £10.27. Pay in other sectors is rising more slowly, and failing to keep pace with soaring living costs.
The prospect of higher pay is enticing workers to the warehouse, contrary to the reputation of Amazon as a poverty employer. Still, critics argue that Bezos – among the world’s richest people, with a fortune of more than $200bn (£150bn) – could easily afford to pay more, rather than launching a space tourism business. Hours are still long and the company does not recognise trade unions.
The timing of Amazon’s arrival could prove helpful, however, after Honda gave up on its factory after more than three decades in Swindon. Tindal bumps into former Honda employees on a regular basis at BRS2, including an engineer with 30 years’ experience maintaining robotic arms – used for spraying cars with paint – who now looks after the army of blue robots that scuttle goods around a vast cage of consumer goods in the Amazon warehouse.
Jay Colsell, who worked on the final shift at Swindon after five years with Honda, is another. He says pay was higher and hours shorter in his old job, but there are more opportunities for career progression at Amazon. “Honda was busy. It was hard work; good money but you worked for it. Amazon is also good but you don’t have to run around lots, you just have to be proactive.”
A modern-day equivalent of a Victorian factory, only on a dual carriageway rather than the railway that put Swindon on the map two centuries ago, the new warehouse covers an area the size of nearly seven football pitches.
Tindal recruited about 600 staff ahead of time and trained them at Amazon’s older Bristol fulfilment centre in order to launch as smoothly as possible at the start of November. The general manager, who has opened three other sites for the firm from scratch – at Daventry, Rugby and Milton Keynes – says even more expansion is expected after the Christmas rush.
“We’re probably still advertising, I haven’t checked. We’re going to pause for now until the new year, but then we’ll be hiring some more.”
A Briton has lost an appeal bid to claim copyright over software he wrote for his employer while being handsomely paid for doing so – despite saying he wrote parts of it in his spare time.
Michael Penhallurick had his case thrown out by Court of Appeal judges in London yesterday following his failed attempt to assert copyright over his Virtual Forensic Computing (VFC) suite in the High Court last year.
The former South Yorkshire police worker had claimed VFC was licensed to MD5 Ltd and the company infringed that licence when it stopped paying him sums of money he described as licensing fees, two years after he left MD5.
“The parties’ subjective intentions are not relevant to interpretation,” observed judge Sir Christopher Floyd. “As a consequence, it can often happen that the objective construction of an agreement does not align perfectly with the subjective intention of either party.”
Thus, said Sir Christopher, the words “the software developed at MD5 Ltd by yourself and sold as VFC” in a 2008 agreement between the developer and the company legally meant that copyright over VFC was owned by MD5.
As previously reported, Penhallurick had been paid 7.5 per cent of VFC’s annual sales, with those payments continuing for two years after his 2016 resignation. MD5 successfully argued in the High Court that the money was paid for ongoing support rather than royalties or licensing fees. The lack of a single clear contract resulted in the dispute going to court.
Discussing the 2008 agreement’s mention of a “bonus”, the Court of Appeal judge ruled: “I see no reason why that bonus should not be taken as valid consideration for the agreement to assign the copyright in such works as vested in the appellant as a result of his continuing work until the appellant left the respondent’s employment. Section 91 of the CDPA 1988 would then treat such copyrights as vesting in the respondent by operation of law.”
Praising barrister Nicholas Caddick QC’s “ingenious” arguments on Penhallurick’s behalf, Sir Christopher rejected them anyway and ruled in MD5’s favour, with fellow judges Lord Justice Arnold and Mrs Justice Falk agreeing.
His Honour Judge Hacon, sitting in the High Court, had previously found that everyone at MD5 knew Penhallurick was writing VFC for the company, including creating multiple versions of it, and paying him a cut of the sales as compensation for his work.
As we said previously: if you’re a dev working on something of your own, double check your contract of employment. Even if you’re doing it mostly in your spare time. ®
Now, the FTC wants to block the acquisition. In a statement, the FTC said Arm’s technology is a critical input that enables competition between Nvidia and its competitors in several markets.
Therefore, it believes the proposed merger would give Nvidia the ability and incentive to use its control of this technology to undermine its competitors, reducing competition and ultimately resulting in reduced product quality, reduced innovation, higher prices and less choice.
The FTC’s bureau of competition director, Holly Vedova, said the proposed deal would allow the combined company to stifle the innovation pipeline for next-generation technologies.
“Tomorrow’s technologies depend on preserving today’s competitive, cutting-edge chip markets. This proposed deal would distort Arm’s incentives in chip markets and allow the combined firm to unfairly undermine Nvidia’s rivals,” she said.
“The FTC’s lawsuit should send a strong signal that we will act aggressively to protect our critical infrastructure markets from illegal vertical mergers that have far-reaching and damaging effects on future innovations.”
“We’re concerned that Nvidia controlling Arm could create real problems for Nvidia’s rivals by limiting their access to key technologies, and ultimately stifling innovation across a number of important and growing markets,” said Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA.
In October, Nvidia’s planned purchase hit another roadblock from the European Commission launching an in-depth antitrust investigation into the deal at the end of October, with a decision expected by 15 March 2022.
“While Arm and Nvidia do not directly compete, Arm’s IP is an important input in products competing with those of Nvidia, for example in data centres, automotive and internet of things,” said executive vice-president Margrethe Vestager, who is responsible for competition policy.
“Our analysis shows that the acquisition of Arm by Nvidia could lead to restricted or degraded access to Arm’s IP, with distortive effects in many markets where semiconductors are used.”
Despite opposition from several watchdogs, Nvidia has been confident the deal will go through.
“Although some Arm licensees have expressed concerns or objected to the transaction, and discussions with regulators are taking longer than initially thought, we are confident in the deal and that regulators should recognise the benefits of the acquisition to Arm, its licensees and the industry,” Nvidia CFO Colette Kress said earlier this year.
And in a letter to the Financial Times a month after the deal was first announced, Nvidia founder and CEO Jensen Huang said the company will maintain Arm’s open licensing model. “We have no intention to ‘throttle’ or ‘deny’ Arm’s supply to any customer.”
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