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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A group known for taking on Big Tech is biting into its next target: food delivery apps like Grubhub, UberEats, Postmates and DoorDash.

Driving the news: The Economic Liberties Project, in a new campaign it calls "Protect our Restaurants" launching Tuesday, is encouraging restaurants to lobby for local laws that cap the commissions these apps can collect.

Context: Restaurants that can no longer serve most diners during the pandemic have turned to partnerships with food delivery apps. But in many cases, these apps charge the restaurants roughly 30% of every transaction.

  • Before the coronavirus, apps like DoorDash and UberEats provided eateries with a bonus on top of sales from in-person dining and drinks.
  • Now, when the whole business is takeout and delivery, they're being devastated by the fees, Katy Connors, executive director of the Independent Restaurant Alliance of Oregon, told Axios.
  • "There is value within these companies," she said. "What we need is for them to get on the same page as us."

Details: The Economic Liberties Project is providing restaurants with an organizing guide with tips on contacting local legislators and encouraging them to sign a letter to the Federal Trade Commission urging the agency to investigate GrubHub, DoorDash, UberEats and Postmates.

  • According to the group's tracking, at least 15 major cities in the U.S., and the state of New Jersey, have implemented delivery fee caps of anywhere from 5 to 20%, and dozens more are considering legislation. Many of these caps are set to end whenever the coronavirus emergency does.
  • The group is hopeful that local action will mirror future federal action on food delivery apps.
  • "The overall goal is to make sure that this public utility service, food delivery apps, are run like public utilities," Matt Stoller, director of research at the Economic Liberties Project, told Axios.

The other side: Food delivery apps generally defend their commissions by noting that the fees are their main source of revenue and pointing to the many services they provide their restaurant partners.

  • Those services include "things like paying and providing benefits to delivery couriers, marketing, customer service, courier support, exposure to new customers, and insurance," as Ashley De Smeth, Postmates' head of public affairs, told Axios in statement.

Go deeper

Lyft touts California ballot victory amid mixed Q3 results

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Lyft posted a much larger loss than analysts expected, though it beat revenue estimates, in its third quarter results reported Tuesday. But on a call with analysts, the company pointed to its recent legislative victory in California and the potential it sees in expanding its foray into delivery as signs of better times ahead.

Why it matters A week ago, Lyft and other gig companies got California voters to back a ballot proposal that cements their drivers' status as independent contractors, which is central to the companies' business models.

Ex-Theranos CEO describes alleged abuse by former boyfriend and company exec

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

On her fourth day of trial testimony, ex-Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes described her 10-year romantic relationship with former president Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani as controlling, and said he would sometimes "force me to have sex with him when I didn’t want to."

Why it matters: While Balwani has also been similarly charged with fraud, the two are being tried separately, in part because some of Holmes' defense hinges on blaming him.

Amazon ordered to redo union vote in Alabama

Photo: Patrick Pleul/picture alliance via Getty Images

A U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) official on Monday called for a re-vote in a union election at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama.

Why it matters: The move could set the stage for another organizing drive at the e-commerce giant, which has, so far, fought off unionizing efforts in the U.S.