In one of its boldest bets ever, Berlin-based Rocket Internet announced today it was making massive investments in two of the world’s hottest food-delivery startups and creating a separate unit to oversee its sprawling empire of food-related stakes.
Rocket invested $568 million in Delivery Hero, the Berlin-based e-commerce startup that facilitates delivery from local restaurants. Rocket now has a 30 percent stake following the latest investment.
Known for its manufacturing-like approach to launching and scaling startups, Rocket says its mission is become the largest Internet company outside the U.S. The latest moves reinforce the size of its ambitions, and its relentless focus on expanding the international reach of its holdings.
Delivery Hero will be placed in a new unit of Rocket’s called the Global Online Takeaway Group. That group will also include the Rocket-backed Foodpanda, which had been a rival of Delivery Hero in Asia. Lately, however, the two companies have been trading assets and aligning operations, and the latest move by Rocket will likely bring them closer together, while stopping short of a full merger.
Rocket also made a series of smaller food-delivery acquisitions, including La Nevera Roja of Spain and Pizzabo of Italy. Combined, the new food-delivery business unit will cover 64 countries and 140,000 restaurants, according to Rocket.
“We are extremely excited about the opportunity in the global food and groceries sector with its tremendous market potential,” said Rocket chief executive Oliver Samwer in a statement.
Separately, Rocket invested $149 million into Hello Fresh, the Berlin-based company that delivers meal kits and recipes to subscribers. Rocket now has a 52 percent in that company, which it originally incubated back in 2011. For the moment, Hello Fresh is not being rolled into Rocket’s new food business unit.