Instacart Poaches Facebook’s Head of App, Fidji Simo, as CEO with Cold Email

The head of the Facebook app, Fidji Simo, is set to join Instacart as the delivery service’s next CEO on August 2. Simo will be replacing Instacart’s founder and CEO Apoorva Mehta who will become the executive chairman when Simo comes on board. Mehta won the heart of Simo to join Instacart with a cold email after admitting he respected her leadership qualities and accomplishments at Facebook.

“To be honest, the idea of someone else running the company had never even crossed my mind,” Mehta confessed. “But I’ve been blown away by her capabilities as a leader.”

Simo, 35, joined Facebook as a product marketer in 2011. She rose through the ranks to become the head of the app in 2019, and she had worked to implement key video initiatives that grew Facebook’s dominance to what it is today. She developed and delivered news feed videos that autoplay on the social media network, and also worked on Facebook Live which is a live streaming service as well as Watch among other major growths.

Simo was previously with eBay as a classified ads executive before joining Facebook. With her departure from Facebook, the world’s biggest social media giant will lose its highest third-ranking female executive after COO Sheryl Sandberg and Chief Business Officer Marne Levine. It will also mean the departure of the highest female executive who is a woman of color given that she is originally from France.

However, the vice president of engineering, Tom Alison, has been designated to take over from Simo, given that he had been the leader of software development for Facebook Groups. Simo said it was not easy for Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to let her go, but that he eventually agreed after seeing her resolve to pursue other major interests.

“Well, you know, it wasn’t as you can imagine, it wasn’t a one-time conversation,” she said. “It was over the course of several weeks. And, you know, the thing I deeply, deeply appreciate about Mark is that he’s been a supporter from day one, and really wanted to make sure that he understood my motivation and what I wanted to do with my life and what I was looking for. He’s been incredibly supportive throughout the process. Obviously sad that we couldn’t find something that aligned at Facebook, but also incredibly supportive of me taking on this role, which I’m always grateful for.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Instacart grew to become the third-largest private startup in the United States, with a worth of $39 billion. It now ranks third behind SpaceX and Stripe. There are unconfirmed rumors that it might go public before the end of this year.