Postmates CEO Bastian Lehmann spoke last week at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, Colorado, where he dismissed rumors that the fourth-largest U.S.-based delivery brand was preparing to be sold to DoorDash, Uber or Walmart rather than pursuing a previously announced initial public offering.
“I would love to take Postmates public,” he said. “It’s actually one of the great American consumer brands, … and our plan is to take it public.”
Postmates is “growing twice as fast as Uber Eats and Grubhub,” he said, implying that the brand remains attractive to investors on the public markets. Lehmann also underscored the company’s status as a pop-culture touchstone, especially in its largest market of Southern California.
“We have carved out a customer base that we like and is very unique,” claiming that credit card data shows the least overlap between Postmates and any of the other major U.S. delivery brands. He said that sixty percent of its customer base is female, which skews more heavily toward millennials than its primary competitors. “I’m afraid to say it wasn’t me who made it cool,” he added. “But it really has an iconic status in LA.”
As national third-party delivery brands take hits in the local and national press—from accusations that DoorDash was skimming driver tips, Grubhub coming under fire in New York State and California considering changes to gig-economy employment—Lehmann reiterated his desire for drivers to maintain their status as independent contractors, which he said gives them maximum flexibility.
Supporters of California’s AB5 bill, including the Rideshare Drivers United and Gig Workers Rising groups, argue that giving gig workers traditional employment status would result in better benefits and more predictable income. Harry Campbell, a former Uber and Lyft driver who blogs about the realities of gig-economy driving, told City Lab that his own experience shows drivers generally want to remain independent contractors, but suggested the debate is much more nuanced.
“When we survey them … they actually want to be independent contractors, but the problem is that right now they’re just not independent contractors,” Campbell said. “Uber and Lyft exert so much more much control over everything and the direction that they’re headed is that they’re exerting more control over time. It’s not getting more flexible. It’s getting less flexible.”
Lehmann said his company’s work with labor unions and its fleet advisory board are two examples of Postmates doing the right things for its drivers. “I think we’ve put forth a proposal that shows we care deeply about the workers on that platform,” he said. “We’re doing the right thing.”
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