Even in the competitive world of food delivery, Zume was an idea that was out there.
Using high-tech tools, it aimed to cook a customer’s pizza while the delivery was in transit, resulting in a pie as fresh out of the oven as possible, delivered to your doorstep. But tech issues and a business model pivot that didn’t work out have led to the company ceasing operations and looking to liquidate.
A report in The Information says Zune, which raised nearly $500 million in venture capital, has retained a restructuring firm to sell its assets—an alternative to bankruptcy—after largely shutting down last month.
Zume wasn’t a name that pizza lovers would likely recognize. But it certainly had some unique ideas on shaking up the industry. Founded in 2015, it hoped to use new forms of technology to prepare pies, and venture capitalists were big fans of the model.
Softbank invested $375 million in the company in 2018, and Zume ultimately raised $445 million.
The idea was to use robots to assemble the pizzas at lightning-fast speed once the order came in. That would then be transferred to delivery vehicles with high-tech ovens that were meant to cook the food while it was being transported. Those ovens were equipped with GPS devices, to ensure the pizzas were ready when the delivery driver got close.
The reality of cooking on the go proved to be a lot harder than the theory; geography was a factor. Cheese would slide off the pies as the trucks traversed the hills of San Francisco, and customers lost patience.
In 2020, Zume gave up on its pizza dreams, laying off employees and pivoting to become a sustainable food-packaging company. It had dipped its toes in these waters with its pizza box, which was mean to prevent steam from impacting the fresh-cooked crust.
Altering the business model couldn’t save the company, though.
This story was originally featured on Fortune.com
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