Blog - Strategy

What do Just Eat's Acquisition of Grubhub and Sailor Giovanni da Verrazzano Share?

Posted by Tim Lewko on Jun 12, 2020 12:00:00 PM

A vision of where the world is going and they are going-even if it's uncharted waters.  

Verrazzano discovered New York Bay in in 1524. A little off-course from a route to the Pacific but nonetheless he was out their braving the elements and in search of something new. 

Just Eat, a European based leader in food delivery player just acquired US based Grubhub for $7.3 Billion.  Grubhub is dominant player in the US food delivery sector.   This move has secured JET - the explorer, looking for new growth opportuniites - a major US platform for expansion.

JET earns praise because it has boldly acted upon its strategic assumptions, understood its appetite for risk and pushed ahead through dynamic events shaping theworld (e.g. COVID-19, Black Lives Matter to name just two).

Both explorers focused on acquisition - be it routes, land or companies - and both employed the same courage and action-oriented approach - despite incomplete data and setbacks.

Let’s look more closely at these two explorers

1. Assumptions About the New World

Both understood growth might be found to the WEST ( US and beyond) - and placed big capability bets - ships and men, capital and money to make it happen.  They could have been wrong but - sitting in Dieppe ( Verrazzano ) or Amsterdam(JET) - would not have gotten them any closer to new growth areas.

Takeaway - What assumptions is your firm making on which industry sectors, geographies or customer groups will grow, be eliminated or newly emerge? 

If you’re not resetting your strategic lens (on the products you offer and markets you serve) based on new assumptions, trends and emerging data  - you are sitting on your hands waiting for better data - and just like Verrazzo- there’s was / is no map to turn to.

2. Application of New Technology 

Verrazzano used the magnetic compass - which was gaining more acceptance to navigate in the 15th and 16th centuries - to sail to the West and find New York Bay among other discoveries during that trip.

It was the ability to apply new(er) technology  along with his view of  the future world and courage that yielded his growth opportunities,.   Yes - new technology enables strategic decisions to happen.

Much the same way, JET has been a leader in defining and utilizing the digital transformation going on in its food delivery sector. JET investment in technology and new channels of distribution and information sharing enabled this type of business model ( e.g. UBER, JET, GRUBHUB, AMAZON ) to create a highly scalable and connected platform tied to the emerging needs and trends of customers. Through a series of European and now US acquisitions - it has become a global force. 

The question of profitability or treasures as Verrazzano might have promised is still unknown - to some extent this is fair when you are charting a new course. ( think Amazon 20 years ago and now). 

JET's hub's net income for 2018 was only 39,900,000 on sales of 885,600,000 GBP - and Verrazzano's personal fortune or fame - can and will be debated.  

But JET's  acquisition has made its mark - eat or be eaten.

Takeaway - The Internet, Internet of Things(IOT), Virtual Meetings, Virtual Workplaces and more takeaway food demand are not going anywhere.  

What investment in new capabilities - talent, technology and processes, partners have you teed up and are prepared to go through with?

3. Bold Action in the Face of Unknown Challenges

The only way not to emerge stronger from a crisis or challenge is to wait for certainty or "better data.   

Keep waiting......

Verrazzano had no map to call upon and JET's acquisition may prove the first mover advantage is alive an well.  The will be the first to globally gain economies of scale, brand portfolio and geographic scope in the delivery food market and build brands that earn customer loyalty (volume) and vender acceptance (penetration). 

Or they might not....but a weak backbone for decision making they have not.

All companies are primping for growth – those that will have the courage to make big bets will emerge stronger and with more growth options and company culture fortitude ( say battle-hardened)- even if all their decisions or voyages don't succeed.

This time leaders and those you lead must be out front.

Takeaway -  What is the appetite for measured risk from your leaders and decision makers?  Are you setting the tone that growth is out there and we have to make tough decisions in the face of uncertainty?


Stay Well. Make Thinking Visible.