- Instacart has named Asha Sharma as its new chief operating officer, the company announced Tuesday. Starting in mid-February, she will oversee the online company’s marketplace services, including its app, logistics, and growth and marketing divisions.
- Sharma was Facebook’s vice president of product for the company’s private communications services. She also served as vice president of product for Facebook Messenger and head of product for social impact. Prior to Facebook, Sharma spent four years at home improvement services marketplace Porch.com, where she was COO and still serves on the board of directors, and in Microsoft’s marketing and operations division.
- Instacart will rely on Sharma’s experience managing consumer apps and B2B operations across major companies as well as a fast-growing startup.
Sharma’s hiring continues Instacart’s trend of poaching talent from big-name companies as it inches closer and closer to a likely public offering. In the first half of this year, the company said, it plans to increase its corporate bench by more than 50%.
Sharma joined Facebook in 2017 as head of product for social impact, which helps individuals and nonprofits create pages for causes like charitable giving and crisis response. She became vice president of product for Facebook’s Messenger service in 2018 before taking on an expanded role overseeing communications products across the company.
At Porch.com, where Sharma spent four years as chief operating officer, she was part of a team that quickly scaled to a $500 million valuation. The company, which started in a Seattle basement, connects consumers with painters, landscapers and other home-improvement specialists. In 2014, it struck a partnership with Lowe’s, which also invested in Porch.
Sharma’s experience managing consumer-facing as well as B2B services across major companies and startups will be put to the test at Instacart. There, she will oversee the management of the company’s popular app, which recorded millions of downloads in 2020, as well as digital products used by drivers, retailers and CPG firms the company works with.
“I’m passionate about working on products that have a real-world impact on people around the world,” Sharma said in a statement. “I believe Instacart has only scratched the surface of what’s possible.”
Building momentum on the consumer and business fronts is critical for Instacart as it faces challenges from new e-commerce vendors as well as retailers. Although grocers leapt into Instacart’s arms following Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods, the pandemic has spurred many of them to take more control over operations like in-store picking. Retailers like Aldi, Kroger and Sprouts Farmers Market have prioritized using their own employees to fulfill orders in-store, pushing Instacart to lay off nearly 2,000 employees in January.
The company is also staring down e-commerce technology vendors positioning themselves specifically as Instacart alternatives, offering retailers more control over their data and customer experience, along with well-funded delivery apps Uber and DoorDash, which are rapidly signing on with major grocers.
Instacart’s ace card is its large user base, which drives retailer partnerships as well as its advertising business, and which it will look to Sharma to deepen and expand even as the rush of pandemic-fueled demand wears off.
In addition to Sharma, Instacart has hired former Goldman Sachs IPO specialist Nick Giovanni as its CFO and LinkedIn’s former chief people officer, Christina Hall, as its human resources director. The company also recently named a new vice president of finance, Rama Katkar, who came from Credit Karma, and a senior vice president of product, Ariel Bardin, who joined from YouTube.