A little over a year after he was hired to oversee Instcart's contractor workforce and customer service team, Senior Vice President of Operations Mike Swartz is leaving the company, BuzzFeed News has confirmed.
Prior to joining Instacart, Swartz had a decade-long career in operations at Amazon; he has also served as an advisor to Flipkart and Warby Parker.
The news comes on the heels of a $400 million funding round for Instacart, which is now valued at $3.4 billion.
But in other ways, it's been a tough year for Instacart, marked by an increasingly tense relationship with its workforce. "Shoppers" who work in-store are Instacart employees, but shoppers who buy and deliver customers' groceries are contract workers.
Instacart first cut delivery worker wages last March. Then, in September, the company announced it was replacing tips with a service fee that would be collected by the company and distributed to workers. After workers revolted, Instacart agreed to keep tips on the platform — but it made the service fee, which doesn't go directly to workers, the default option.
Instacart failed to explain the difference between the fee and tips to customers; as a result, the delivery workers saw their earnings slide. In October, Instacart CEO Apoorva Mehta told BuzzFeed News that shoppers would have to earn less for the company to continue to grow.
In December, a group of workers filed a class action lawsuit against the company That lawsuit was settled last month for $4.6 million. In the settlement, Instacart promised to better differentiate between tips and the service fee in the future, though how it plans to do that is unclear. Meanwhile, Instacart shoppers tell BuzzFeed News that the rates they earn per delivery have continued to fall.
In a statement about Swartz, Instacart said, "He's been a great asset to our team in the last year, and we wish him the best in his future endeavors." Swartz did not immediately return a request for comment from BuzzFeed News.
At the time of his hiring, Swartz told Recode, "When you think about changing traffic patterns, product availability, the weather, customer preferences, you realize how complex the demand modeling can be."
Caroline O'Donovan is a senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco.
Contact Caroline O'Donovan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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