Jan 7, 2020

Cafe X shuts some of its robot coffee shops

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Cafe X, an operator of robotic coffee shops, has closed its three San Francisco locations and laid off their staffs, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Robots have been hailed as the future of food service, but as Cafe X and pizza-making robot startup Zume are finding, it's not so easy.

Cafe X CEO Henry Hu confirmed the closures in a phone call with Axios, saying the locations were running "prototype" machines that were designed to help the company better understand customer behaviors. It has installed more advanced machines in the San Jose and San Francisco airports, and has plans to add additional airport locations in 2020.

  • Hu also acknowledged that the company asked employees to volunteer to take two weeks of unpaid leave at year-end, in an effort to conserve cash.
  • "It's one of the normal things startups have to deal with."
  • The San Francisco-based startup has raised $15 million in venture capital, and is in the midst of raising a new round that sources say has taken longer than originally expected.

Go deeper

Layoffs are the latest trend for on-demand companies

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A number of on-demand services companies are turning to layoffs to trim costs and shore up their balance sheets.

Why it matters: After years of seeing their unprofitable growth subsidized by plentiful venture dollars, companies are facing increased pressure to prove they can stand on their own two feet.

Go deeperArrowJan 10, 2020

Layoffs begin at SoftBank-backed delivery company Rappi

Rappi logo

Rappi, an on-demand delivery startup operating in Latin America, this week laid off hundreds of employees, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: On-demand delivery of meals and other products is coming under increased financial pressure, as no one has managed to make the model profitable.

Go deeperArrowJan 9, 2020

Email startup Front raises $59 million

Photo: Front

Front, a San Francisco-based maker of email collaboration software, raised $59 million in Series C funding led by a group of top executives from enterprise software companies Atlassian, Qualtrics and Zoom.

Why it matters: It's not common for individuals to lead such a large round, but Front thinks that it will gain insights from executives who have had success in changing the way people work.

Go deeper: Tomorrow's workplace apps are pretty, cloud-based and collaborative

Keep ReadingArrowJan 22, 2020