Bottom line: A few hundred million dollars could help robots make an awful lot of pizza that is one day autonomously delivered to customers. SoftBank is considering an investment into the early stages of a nearly self-sufficient pizza empire run by Zume Inc.
SoftBank Group Corp. is in discussions to invest in Zume Inc., a pizza company that uses robots and proprietary trucks to deliver its product to customers. The startup company may be looking to obtain between $500 million and $750 million in funding to expand the concept beyond the three trucks operating in Mountain View, California.
Despite being a small company, Zume has looked into partnering with bigger names such as DoorDash and UberEats. Zume holds a patent on its custom delivery vehicles that allows pizza to be cooked inside the truck while the vehicle is on its way to customers. Robots and remotely controlled ovens allow for Zume to circumvent regulations that prevent ordinary food trucks from preparing food while vehicles are in motion.
In the past, SoftBank made a $535 million investment into DoorDash and also currently has a 15 percent stake in Uber. Food-delivery businesses are clearly becoming part of the SoftBank Vision Fund's long term plan, especially as UberEats continues to grow rapidly. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has shared that UberEats accounts for around 10 percent of the company's business.
Zume may still be in its infancy, but it certainly has some credibility behind it. Former president of Zynga Studios Alex Garden co-founded the company quietly in 2015 with Julia Collins, an executive of a small chain of Mexican restaurants. Initial funding from Yahoo's founder Jerry Yang also helps offer some backing.
Aside from Zume, both Pizza Hut and Domino's have been exploring automated pizza delivery options. Pizza Hut even lets you order from a special pair of limited edition high-top shoes if you managed to snag one of the 50 pairs made.