Zume Raises Big Money to Get Robots Making Pizzas

October 11, 2017         By: Steven Anderson

The notion of robots making our food sounds to some like genius. Food heated precisely to temperature and not one scintilla above or below, no risk of unauthorized adulteration by disgruntled employees, no risk of inadvertent failure by same, and always fresh and tasty. Yet it also fills some of us with dread at the economic fallout. It’s the direction we’re moving in, though, and Zume Pizza recently took home a fat pot of venture cash to make robotic pizza a thing.

Zume looks to specialize in pizza by robots, but for us. A report from CNBC pinned down that Securities and Exchange Commission filings noted that a new round of venture funding brought in $48 million for the company. Though $2 million shy of a stated goal, Zume’s previous fundraising—which brought in $23 million as of December 2016—brought the company up to a valuation of $50 million.

Zume’s plans, however, are every bit as ambitious as its fundraising. Set to not only use robots to make pizza but also deliver it, Zume’s systems will let the robots take over certain functions like putting pizza sauce on crust and baking the pizza. There will actually still be some jobs for humans here, however, like food prep, developing recipes and engaging in quality control measures like tasting.

Several other companies are working to get in on this market space, however, with a combined force of Marble and Yelp Eat24 working on robot delivery, and Domino’s, who has brought the Easy Order system to its end users and made it easier to order a certain favorite food or food combination.

Ultimately, Zume’s plans are a little less worrisome than others because only a few jobs are taken here. In fact, if Zume can manage to get to the point where the robot delivering the pizza can actually contain a pizza oven, that could be a real coup. We could be talking about out-of-the-oven pizza right at your door, without intervening drive time cooling. Throw in an app with mobile payments and it could be the tailgater’s best friend.

While there are always concerns with automation—like how many jobs are lost—this could be a radical leap forward that does customers plenty of good.