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Getir acquires Gorillas — and Gorillas investors may go bananas

Sifted first reported terms of deal, which Getir confirmed on Friday

A bag of groceries sits in one of Gorillas' dark stores, of which it has 180 spread across 44 European cities (Photo: Gorillas)

Updated Friday Dec. 9 at 9:15 a.m. EDT.

Ultrafast grocery delivery startups were once seen as part of the future of last-mile delivery, with several earning valuations over $1 billion just months after launching

Instead, though, the space has been marred by layoffs, cash burns and total shutdowns as rapid delivery firms struggle to work out the unit economics of 15-minute delivery.

But could a merger between two of the young industry’s leaders improve its prospects?

That’s the hope for Istanbul-based Getir and Berlin-based Gorillas. On Friday, Getir announced the acquisition of Gorillas for an undisclosed fee. The terms of the deal were reported earlier this week by Sifted but were not confirmed by either company.

“Markets go up and down, but consumers love our service and convenience is here to stay,” said Nazim Salur, founder of Getir. “The super fast grocery delivery industry will steadily grow for many years to come and Getir will lead this category it created 7 years ago.”

Reports of Getir acquiring Gorillas first surfaced in October, with sources telling the Financial Times that Gorillas shareholders would receive around $100 million in cash and 12% equity in the combined entity if a deal happens.

The Sifted report, though, paints a less favorable picture for Gorillas investors. 

According to two sources familiar with the acquisition, it’s an all-stock transaction, meaning investors will have their Gorillas stock converted to Getir stock.

If Getir’s shares are priced at the startup’s most recent valuation — around $12 billion in May, which is likely now inflated due to recent market activity — Gorillas investors will have less ownership in the company than they would have at a lower valuation. And if it ever raises funds at a lower valuation in the future, those investors would lose money.

“(All-stock deals) are seen very often when there’s a failing business and the business is being absorbed by somebody, but they’re not willing to pay anything for it,” an investor in another rapid grocery delivery company told Sifted.

To boot, in lieu of receiving $100 million as was previously reported, Gorillas shareholders will instead invest $100 million into the combined entity to help keep it afloat.

Watch: The challenges and opportunities of 2-day grocery delivery

Once valued as high as $3 billion in September 2021, Gorillas has since taken a negative trajectory. In May, it cut its office workforce by half and pulled out of Italy, Denmark, Spain and Belgium as it contended with cash burn.

Another report this week from Bloomberg predicted Gorillas will likely be valued at around $1.7 billion after the Getir deal goes through. It also said the company could face another round of job cuts, though sources noted that no final decision has been made.

A few months before the layoffs in May, Gorillas also dropped its promise of 10-minute delivery, once a foundation of its service. The New York Post reported some deliveries were taking over an hour in New York City, the startup’s only U.S. market.

However, ditching 10-minute delivery might not necessarily be a bad thing. 

A slew of other firms in the ultrafast delivery space have struggled to turn a profit using the model, which relies on networks of dark stores and microfulfillment centers to position inventory close to customers and reduce delivery times. Getir itself is one of them, announcing thousands of layoffs around the same time Gorillas did and scaling back plans for expansion.

Gopuff, one of Getir and Gorillas’ main rivals in the U.S., also began laying off hundreds of employees and scaling back its warehouse footprint in the spring. And in June, Joker, another of the industry’s early leaders, pulled out of the U.S. and began selling some of its American assets.

Other casualties of the ultrafast delivery downturn include 1520, Buyk and Fridge No More, all of which shut down during a four-month stretch between last December and March.

Getir and Gorillas, however, have survived thus far, even if they haven’t reached profitability. So it could just be that a merger is the spark the companies need to get back on track.

Having raised around $1.8 billion, Getir is the best-capitalized of Europe’s ultrafast delivery startups. It’s still dwarfed by Gopuff’s $3.4 billion in total funding, but the firm clearly has the interest of investors and could keep it given the favorable reported terms of the deal.

Plus, while doubters have hammered the industry’s low demand, it’s possible those concerns are overblown. 

A recent survey by PayPal and Pymnts of nearly 10,000 shoppers in the U.S., U.K., Australia and Germany found more than three-quarters (76%) of millennial shoppers bought groceries online in the previous 30 days. The research also reported 74% Gen Xers and bridge millennials — which sit on the cusp of the two generations — said the same. 

That means a big group of new shoppers is primed to enter the online grocery delivery space. And while they may not be willing to pay an added price for rapid delivery right now, the potential is there for such services to be popular when inflationary pressure subsides.

Getir and Gorillas did not immediately respond to Modern Shipper’s request for comment.

Click for more Modern Shipper articles by Jack Daleo.

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Jack Daleo

Jack is a staff writer for FreightWaves and Modern Shipper covering topics like last mile delivery and e-commerce fulfillment. He studied at Northwestern University, majoring in journalism with a certificate in integrated marketing communications. Previously, Jack has written for Backpacker Magazine and enjoys travel, the outdoors, and all things basketball.