Behind the Scenes at Instacart’s New Office


As documenters of startup culture, we spend a lot of time looking at the spaces these companies inhabit. While our goal is to highlight the people, the way they work together, and the problems they’re solving, as photographers, it’s impossible not to also notice the lighting, the colors, and the touches of personality that make an office unique. So we were excited when Instacart commissioned us to document their move to, and first day in, their new offices (designed by Blitz) on Beale Street near Mission.


“We got this space about four months ago, totally empty, with no walls or anything. It’s come together insanely fast.” –Shevelle
The move took place over the long Labor Day weekend, with trucks arriving at the old offices at 5 p.m. on Friday to start shuttling items to the new space (above left). At the new offices, Shevelle (above right) and the install team worked long hours to get everything ready for Tuesday morning. Below left: Shadi sets up name tags on new desks.
Above: Workers install a grocery store display near the office’s elevators, which are wallpapered with oversized images of fruits and vegetables. Below: The office floor plan.
“All the executive assistants cancelled their holiday plans and were here to help me with the move. It kinda warms my heart.” –Shevelle
The office install crew celebrates over lunch. From left: Gina, Shevelle, Valerie, Kelsey, and Shadi.

Shevelle: It’s pretty fun to see the reactions of people who have been here the longest. Those are the people I’m most excited about, because last October they were in an apartment. Just a year ago they were in a house in South Park, with people working in closets and sitting in doorways.

“A year ago they were in a house in South Park, with people working in closets and sitting in doorways.” –Shevelle
Employees were met in the new office’s lobby and escorted up to the main floor for a tour, where we ambushed them, flashes popping, as they got their first look at the space.

Shevelle: At Bryant, we only had five meeting rooms — here we have fifty. Giving tours to the team today, people are so excited just about that. And the fact that we have more than three bathrooms now! It’s like, everything else is just icing on the cake to them.

Above: VP of Engineering Udi Nir is the first one in the new office and gets right to work. Below: As Nithya (left) and Alia unload their items from the move boxes (right), VP of Talent Mathew Caldwell decorates the new space with a pair of white Converse (left).
Above: The Customer Happiness team settles in, laying out computer stands, mice, and dongles and encouraging everyone to take what they need.
Above: Tim W. gets the IT room in order. Below: Natasha, Marian, and David Y. (left to right) cheers the new space with their Instacart mugs.
“An office should remind a team why it’s here. For us, that’s to improve the lives of our customers.” –Apoorva Mehta, Founder/CEO

Apoorva: This is the first office space we’ve designed ourselves. I don’t believe having a nice office space is any measure of success, but I do love that it allows us to highlight our culture. An office should remind a team why it’s here. For us, that’s to improve the lives of our customers, so we had customer and shopper stories built into the landscape here. As more people join the company, that will help them remember what is valuable.

Alia, Zain, and Nithya (left to right) get comfortable in the office’s main lobby.
The walls of this lounge (above) are lined with striking, veggie-themed wallpaper and many meeting rooms echo the orange of Instacart’s carrot logo, incorporated into the smaller lobby on the office’s top floor (below).
Above left: These brightly colored orb chairs were a favorite from the old office. Above right: Several walls display famous quotes modified to include carrots, like this one, modified from Paul Graham’s “Make something people want,” next to a photo of Instacart’s CEO, Apoorva, speaking with Graham. Below: The game room!
Above: The office includes a section that mimics a grocery store, providing developers with scanable items to test on — and fresh fruit for hungry Instacarters. Below: Tim W. tries out the new “stretching room” (psst, we’re pretty sure it’s a yoga room).

Zain: I helped with a lot of graphics stuff, like the tweets in the lobby and the design in the yoga room — that’s actually my tattoo. We’re working on our brand right now, so we couldn’t dive in and do everything in the office full on. The idea was to add subtle details and then eventually build on it. There’s a foundation now, like the colors and wallpapers are on-brand; there’s a lot of empty space we can still play with.

“The idea was to add subtle details and then build on it.” –Zain
Above: Electricians were still putting finishing touches on the office’s wiring as the team headed to lunch in the new light-filled cafeteria with a view (below).
Above: Chatting after lunch in the new cafeteria. Below: Enjoying the impressive view from the cafeteria’s bank of windows.
The team that made it all happen over one very long weekend, left to right: Kelsey, Shadi, Valerie, Shevelle, Gina, and Jane.

Apoorva: Many of you may not know this, but Instacart started just two blocks from here in my apartment at Beale and Folsom. And every single office space we’ve had since then has defined a different stage of our company. In the apartment, we were building the foundation, our first iPhone app, and we raised our first round of funding.

Then we moved to South Park and Instacart became not just an iPhone app, but a website, and you could order from not just one store, but many. And we raised another round of funding.

“At our previous space, we became a household name.”
–Apoorva Metha, Founder/CEO

Next we moved to another office in South Park — which had a hot tub. We signed Whole Foods as a partner and became a product you could use in fifteen markets in the United States. And we raised more funding.

At our previous space, we became a household name and signed over eighty different retail partnerships with many of the biggest retailers in the world. And we raised another round of funding.

Now we’re here. I’m not sure what the future looks like exactly, but I’m extremely excited about the team we’ve built. And I’m excited to see the milestones we achieve in this office.

Founder and CEO Apoorva Metha (center) leads a toast to the new space (above) while cofounder Brandon Leonardo occasionally interrupts with cork popping (below).
Above: CJ (left) and Jagannath show their Instacart love with matching T-shirts. Below: Apoorva presents Shevelle with a present for her hard work on the office.
Above: Cofounder Max Mullen embraces Shevelle after the toast. Below: Brandon inspects the mini cupcake selection.
Cheers!

Max: I know we’re all very excited to be here, myself included. Believe me, you don’t want to spend too much time working in Apoorva’s apartment, or his apartment’s “business center,” or the smallest conference rooms in your friends’ offices, eating their leftover Zesty.

“It’s important for us to be humble.” –Max Mullen, Cofounder

But even though everything looks new and shiny here, we didn’t spend a tremendous amount of money. We want to keep our resourcefulness with us. And we also want to remember that, while two-thirds of the company is here, there are fifteen other offices full of extremely passionate, hardworking people who didn’t get a brand-new office, so it’s important for us to be humble.

VP of People Mathew Caldwell gives Shevelle a job-well-done fist bump at the end of the company’s first day in its new offices. The wall behind them shows off favorite Instacart tweets.