Afternoon Coffee: Facebook wants to launch new services feature; Nashville explosion leads to communications outages; Instacart is too expensive for grocers

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Facebook announced plans to build a service feature that connects gig workers with users looking for home repair or freelance jobs, according to Business Insider.

The tool would live on Facebook Marketplace, a faction of the social medium where users can sell or exchange goods in similar fashion to Craiglist. The company created Marketplace in 2016 and amassed 800 million global users within two years, the article reported.

Facebook could monetize its new services feature by taking a cut of transactions or target ads toward users’ spending behavior. The article said that the company did not respond to a request for comment, but a spokesperson, Lisa Revelli, confirmed that Facebook is exploring the “gig economy industry” to The Information.

Nashville explosion led to mass communications outages and grounded air travel

A recreational vehicle parked in downtown Nashville exploded early Christmas morning, causing communications outages that impacted police emergency systems and grounded air travel at the city’s airport, according to CNBC.

Police responded to a report of shots fired on Friday when they encountered the RV blaring a recorded warning that a bomb would detonate. Police evacuated nearby buildings and called in a bomb squad before the bomb exploded shortly afterward, the article said. Three people were taken to the hospital for injuries related to the blast.

The blast led to an outage for AT&T services. The outages were seen in middle Tennessee and Kentucky, including about 65 miles north of Nashville in Bowling Green. Some police agencies reported that their 911 systems were down because of this outage, the article said. Additionally, the Federal Aviation Administration temporarily halted flights out of the Nashville airport because of telecommunications issues associated with the explosion.

Instacart not as promising a partner to grocers as expected

Grocery-delivery service Instacart meant to be the most promising partner of grocery stores in 2020, allowing supermarkets to break into e-commerce. The Wall Street Journal reported, however, that after several years of partnership, some grocers are questioning the relationship.

Some supermarkets reported that they’re not making any money with Instacart. The gig worker delivery company charges a typical commission of more than 10% of each order. Some of Instacart’s retailer partners said the service holds too much control over customer interactions and expect it to take an increasing share of money that food makers spend on marketing. It has put grocers in a bind, the article reported, especially as delivery continues to boom and even becomes a necessity.

“We don’t think we make money from an Instacart order,” Mark Skogen, the CEO of Skogen’s Foodliner Inc. — which operates more than 30 stores under its Festival Foods brand — told the WSJ.

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