Who would have guessed a global pandemic would vault a grocery delivery app to an $8 billion valuation?

The flip side for Instacart ($PRIVATE:INSTACART) is that the nature of its business model means thousands of employees are at risk, and now there's a workers strike. Nationwide, Instacart staff will protest having to shop in stores under hazardous conditions, not being paid fair compensation, and lack of bonuses for the busiest time in the app's eight-year history.

There's much more to this story, you can read about it all here, but at the end of the day, there's a truckload of data to sift through before even getting to the political, financial, and moral ramifications of sending people to gather food during a health crisis on a scale we've never experienced before.

Just for some perspective, in the last four years, the number of Instacart employees has exploded by more than 500%. Right now is the most the startup has ever employed, which is why the prospect of a prolonged strike could be devastating. 

Instacart hit an all-time high in hiring back in August, and only in the last four months has there been an increase again (32% from December). 

March saw a 12% jump in Twitter followers, since people started really thinking about how they would get groceries. The reality and gravity of the situation we all find ourselves in have been a boon to Instacart, but for every handful of people getting deliveries on essential items, there's always a worker putting themselves in danger of getting the Coronavirus. 

Over on Facebook, Instacart likes have actually gone up by a bit, and the 'Talking About' count has skyrocketed, seeing a 136% increase in online conversation.

The most miraculous part of the data is that user reviews are still extremely high, and it seems that most people don't know about or care about the strike (albeit it's only been a day since it really heated up). On the Apple App Store, the average rating of 5 finally dipped to 4.8, but that's hardly a damning condemnation of Instacart.

The number of reviews submitted for Instacart during March alone, on both app stores, has shot up 26% and 20%, respectively. A ton of people are using, liking, reviewing, following, and talking about Instacart. What happens when this strike takes off nationally, and push comes to shove? What will the data show us, either a collision of user engagement and worker frustration, or maybe just more of the same? Only time will tell.

About the Data:

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

Further Reading: 

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