Neo-Nazis are nonetheless on Fb. They usually’re being profitable

Die Nibelungenschlacht – eine Anspielung auf ein klassisches Heldenepos, das von den Nazis sehr geliebt wurde – ist eine von Dutzenden rechtsextremen Gruppen, die trotz der wiederholten Versprechen von Facebook und anderen Plattformen, sich von ihr zu befreien, weiterhin die Mainstream-Social Media nutzen, um Gewinn zu machen Extremismus.

Alles in allem gibt es mindestens 54 Facebook-Profile von 39 Organisationen, die von der deutschen Regierung und zivilgesellschaftlichen Gruppen als extremistisch gekennzeichnet wurden, laut einer Studie, die The Associated Press vom Counter Extremism Project, einer gemeinnützigen Politik- und Interessengruppe, mitgeteilt wurde Extremismus zu bekämpfen. Allein auf Facebook haben die Gruppen fast 268.000 Abonnenten und Freunde.

CEP fand auch 39 verwandte Instagram-Profile, 16 Twitter-Profile und 34 YouTube-Kanäle, die über 9,5 Millionen Aufrufe erhalten haben. Knapp 60 % der Profile waren explizit auf das Geldverdienen ausgerichtet, zeigten prominente Links zu Online-Shops oder Fotos, die für Waren werben.

Klicken Sie auf der Facebook-Seite von Erik & Sons auf den großen blauen „Shop ansehen“-Button und Sie können ein T-Shirt mit der Aufschrift „Meine Lieblingsfarbe ist Weiß“ für 20 Euro kaufen. Das Deutsche Warenhaus bietet Aufkleber „Refugees not welcome“ für nur 2,50 Euro und Aryan Brotherhood Schlauchschals mit Totenkopfgesichtern für 5,88 Euro an. Der Facebook-Feed von OPOS Records wirbt für neue Musik und Merchandise, darunter „True Aggression“. Stolz und Würde“ und „Eine Familie“-T-Shirts. Die Marke, die für „One People One Struggle“ steht, verlinkt auch auf ihren Onlineshop von Twitter und Instagram.

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ANMERKUNG DES HERAUSGEBERS: Diese Geschichte ist Teil einer Zusammenarbeit zwischen The Associated Press und der PBS-Serie FRONTLINE, die Herausforderungen für die Ideen und Institutionen der traditionellen US-amerikanischen und europäischen Demokratie untersucht.

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Die Personen und Organisationen im CEP-Datensatz sind das Who-is-Who der rechtsextremen Musik- und Kampfsportszene in Deutschland. „Sie sind diejenigen, die die Infrastruktur aufbauen, in der sich Menschen treffen, Geld verdienen, Musik genießen und rekrutieren“, sagt Alexander Ritzmann, leitender Forscher des Projekts. „Es sind höchstwahrscheinlich nicht die Typen, die ich hervorgehoben habe, die Gewaltverbrechen begehen werden. Sie sind zu schlau. Sie bauen die Narrative auf und fördern die Aktivitäten dieses Milieus, in dem dann Gewalt auftritt.“

Die CEP konzentrierte sich auf Gruppen, die liberale demokratische Institutionen und Normen wie die Pressefreiheit, den Schutz von Minderheiten und die universelle Menschenwürde stürzen wollen und glauben, dass die weiße Rasse unter Belagerung steht und erhalten werden muss, notfalls mit Gewalt. Keiner wurde verboten, aber fast alle wurden in deutschen Geheimdienstberichten als extremistisch bezeichnet, sagte CEP.

Auf Facebook wirken die Gruppen harmlos. Sie vermeiden eklatante Verstöße gegen Plattformregeln, wie etwa den Einsatz von Hassreden oder das Posten von Hakenkreuzen, die in Deutschland generell illegal sind.

Durch sorgfältige Einhaltung der Anstandslinie nutzen diese Schlüsselarchitekten der deutschen Rechtsextremen die Macht der Mainstream-Social Media, um Festivals, Modemarken, Musiklabels und Mixed-Martial-Arts-Turniere zu promoten, die Millionenumsätze generieren und gleichgesinnte Denker aus den um die Welt.

Aber das einfache Abschneiden solcher Gruppen könnte unbeabsichtigte, schädliche Folgen haben.

„Wir wollen nicht einen Weg einschlagen, in dem wir Websites sagen, dass sie Personen aufgrund ihrer Identität entfernen sollen, aber nicht nach dem, was sie auf der Website tun“, sagte David Greene, Direktor für bürgerliche Freiheiten bei der Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco .

Den Plattformen einen großen Spielraum für die Sanktionierung von als unerwünscht erachteten Organisationen einzuräumen, könnte repressiven Regierungen die Möglichkeit geben, ihre Kritiker zu eliminieren. “Das kann wirklich ernste Menschenrechtsbedenken haben”, sagte er. „Die Geschichte der Content-Moderation hat uns gezeigt, dass sie fast immer zum Nachteil marginalisierter und machtloser Menschen ist.“

Die deutschen Behörden haben die Nibelungenschlacht im Jahr 2019 mit der Begründung verboten, dass es nicht um Sport ging, sondern um die Ausbildung von Kämpfern mit Kampffähigkeiten für den politischen Kampf.

Im Jahr 2020, als das Coronavirus wütete, planten die Organisatoren, die Veranstaltung online zu streamen – unter anderem über Instagram, um den Webcast zu bewerben. Wenige Wochen vor der geplanten Veranstaltung haben jedoch über hundert schwarz gekleidete Polizisten in Sturmhauben eine Versammlung in einem Motorradclub in Magdeburg, wo für die Sendung Kämpfe gefilmt wurden, aufgelöst und laut lokalen Medien vom Boxring gezerrt berichtet.

Die Nibelungenschlacht ist nach Geheimdienstberichten der Bundesregierung eine „zentrale Anlaufstelle“ für Rechtsextreme. Die Organisation hat ihre politischen Ziele deutlich gemacht – nämlich den Kampf gegen die „verrottende“ liberale demokratische Ordnung – und hat Anhänger aus ganz Europa sowie den Vereinigten Staaten angezogen.

Mitglieder eines kalifornischen Straßenkampfclubs der weißen Vorherrschaft namens Rise Above Movement und seines Gründers Robert Rundo haben am Nibelungen-Turnier teilgenommen. Im Jahr 2018 wurden mindestens vier Mitglieder von Rise Above wegen Unruhen festgenommen, weil sie ihr Kampftraining bei der Kundgebung Unite the Right in Charlottesville, Virginia, auf die Straße gebracht hatten. Eine Reihe von Alaunen der Nibelungen-Schlacht landeten im Gefängnis, unter anderem wegen Totschlags, Körperverletzung und Angriffen auf Migranten.

National Socialism Today, das sich selbst als „Magazin von Nationalisten für Nationalisten“ bezeichnet, hat die Nibelungenschlacht und andere Gruppen dafür gelobt, den Kampfwillen zu fördern und „Aktivisten zur Verbesserung ihrer Kampfbereitschaft“ zu motivieren.

In den Social-Media-Feeds der Gruppe finden sich jedoch keine Hinweise auf professionalisierte, regierungsfeindliche Gewalt. Stattdessen positioniert es sich als gesundheitsbewusste Lifestyle-Marke, die Marken-Teebecher und Umhängetaschen verkauft.

„Natur entdecken. Heimat genießen!“ schwärmt ein Facebook-Post über einem Foto eines muskelbepackten Typen auf einem Berggipfel in Sportkleidung der Marke Resistend, einem der Sponsoren des Nibelungen-Turniers. Alle Männer auf den Fotos sind gepumpt und weiß, und sie werden porträtiert, wie sie gesunde Aktivitäten wie lange Läufe und alpine Wanderungen genießen.

An anderer Stelle auf Facebook unterhält Thorsten Heise, der vom Verfassungsschutz des Landes Thüringen wegen Aufstachelung zum Hass verurteilt und als “einer der profiliertesten deutschen Neonazis” bezeichnet wurde, ebenfalls mehrere Seiten.

Frank Kraemer, den die Bundesregierung als „rechtsextremen Musiker“ bezeichnet, leitet über seine Facebook-Seite auf seinen Blog und seinen Online-Shop Sonnenkreuz, der weiße Nationalisten- und Coronavirus-Verschwörungsbücher sowie Sporternährungsprodukte verkauft und “Impfstoff-Rebellen” T-Shirts für Mädchen.

Die Nibelungenschlacht lehnte eine Stellungnahme ab. Resistend, Heise und Kraemer reagierten nicht auf Anfragen nach Kommentaren.

Facebook teilte AP mit, dass es 350 Mitarbeiter beschäftigt, deren Hauptaufgabe darin besteht, Terrorismus und organisierten Hass zu bekämpfen, und dass es die in dieser Berichterstattung gekennzeichneten Seiten und Konten untersucht.

„Wir verbieten Organisationen und Einzelpersonen, die eine gewalttätige Mission verkünden oder sich an Gewalt beteiligen“, sagte ein Unternehmenssprecher und fügte hinzu, dass Facebook mehr als 250 weiße supremacistische Organisationen verboten habe, darunter Gruppen und Einzelpersonen in Deutschland. Der Sprecher sagte, das Unternehmen habe zwischen April und Juni weltweit über 6 Millionen Inhalte entfernt, die mit organisiertem Hass in Verbindung stehen, und arbeite daran, noch schneller voranzukommen.

Google sagte, es habe kein Interesse daran, hasserfüllte Inhalte auf YouTube sichtbar zu machen, und untersuchte die in dieser Berichterstattung identifizierten Konten. Das Unternehmen sagte, es habe mit Dutzenden von Experten zusammengearbeitet, um seine Richtlinien zu supremacistischen Inhalten im Jahr 2019 zu aktualisieren, was zu einem fünffachen Anstieg der Anzahl der entfernten Kanäle und Videos führte.

Twitter sagt, dass es sich dafür einsetzt, dass die öffentliche Konversation auf seiner Plattform „sicher und gesund“ ist und dass es keine gewalttätigen extremistischen Gruppen toleriert. „Die Bedrohung oder Förderung von gewalttätigem Extremismus verstößt gegen unsere Regeln“, sagte ein Sprecher gegenüber AP, äußerte sich jedoch nicht zu den spezifischen Konten, die in dieser Berichterstattung gekennzeichnet sind.

Robert Claus, der ein Buch über die rechtsextreme Kampfkunstszene geschrieben hat, sagte, dass die Sportmarken im Datensatz von CEP „alle in der militanten rechtsextremen Neonazi-Szene in Deutschland und Europa verwurzelt sind“. Einer der Gründer der Nibelungenschlacht zum Beispiel ist Teil des gewalttätigen Hammerskin-Netzwerks und ein weiterer früher Unterstützer, der russische Neonazi Denis Kapustin, auch bekannt als Denis Nikitin, ist seit zehn Jahren von der Einreise in die Europäische Union ausgeschlossen Jahre, sagte er.

Das Verbot solcher Gruppen von Facebook und anderen großen Plattformen würde möglicherweise ihren Zugang zu neuen Zielgruppen einschränken, aber es könnte sie auch tiefer in den Untergrund treiben, was es schwieriger macht, ihre Aktivitäten zu überwachen, sagte er.

“Es ist gefährlich, weil sie Leute rekrutieren können”, sagte er. „Diese Accounts zu verbieten würde ihren Kontakt zu ihrem Publikum unterbrechen, aber die Schlüsselfiguren und ihre Ideologie werden nicht weg sein.“

Thorsten Hindrichs, ein Experte für die rechtsextreme Musikszene Deutschlands, der an der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz lehrt, sagte, es bestehe die Gefahr, dass der scheinbar harmlose Auftritt der rechtsextremen Musik-Schwergewichte Deutschlands auf Facebook und Twitter, mit denen sie hauptsächlich für ihre Marken, könnte dazu beitragen, das Image von Extremisten zu normalisieren.

Er schätzte, dass Konzerte der Rechtsextremen in Deutschland vor der Coronavirus-Pandemie jährlich rund 2 Millionen Euro (2,3 Millionen US-Dollar) einnahmen, ohne den Verkauf von CDs und Markenartikeln. Er sagte, es sei unwahrscheinlich, dass das Raustreten extremistischer Musikgruppen von Facebook die Verkäufe zu stark beeinträchtigt, da es andere Plattformen gibt, an die sie sich wenden können, wie Telegram und Gab, um ihre Anhänger zu erreichen. „Rechtsextreme sind nicht dumm. Sie werden immer Wege finden, ihre Sachen zu promoten“, sagte er.

Keine der Aktivitäten dieser Gruppen auf Mainstream-Plattformen ist offensichtlich illegal, obwohl sie möglicherweise gegen die Facebook-Richtlinien verstößt, die „gefährliche Einzelpersonen und Organisationen“ ausschließen, die online oder offline Gewalt befürworten oder sich daran beteiligen. Facebook sagt, dass es weder Lob noch Unterstützung von Nazismus, weißer Vorherrschaft, weißem Nationalismus oder weißem Separatismus erlaubt und Menschen und Gruppen ausschließt, die an solchen „Hass-Ideologien“ festhalten.

Letzte Woche hat Facebook fast 150 Konten und Seiten entfernt, die mit der deutschen Anti-Lockdown-Querdenken-Bewegung verbunden sind, im Rahmen einer neuen Richtlinie zum „sozialen Schaden“, die sich an Gruppen richtet, die Fehlinformationen verbreiten oder zu Gewalt aufstacheln, aber nicht in die bestehenden Kategorien von Bösem auf der Plattform passen Schauspieler.

Aber wie diese sich entwickelnden Regeln angewendet werden, bleibt unklar und umstritten.

„Wenn Sie auf der Plattform etwas falsch machen, ist es für eine Plattform einfacher, eine Kontosperrung zu rechtfertigen, als jemanden aufgrund seiner Ideologie einfach rauszuwerfen. Das wäre im Hinblick auf die Menschenrechte schwieriger“, sagt Daniel Holznagel, ein Berliner Richter, der früher für die Bundesregierung zu Hassreden arbeitete und auch am CEP-Bericht mitgewirkt hat. „Es ist eine Grundlage unserer westlichen Gesellschaft und der Menschenrechte, dass unsere Rechtsordnungen keine Idee, Ideologie, keinen Gedanken sanktionieren.“

Inzwischen gibt es Neuigkeiten von den Leuten von der Nibelungenschlacht. „Ab heute könnt ihr bei uns auch eure Kleinsten einkleiden“, heißt es in einem Juni-Post auf ihrem Facebook-Feed. Die neue Kidswear-Linie umfasst ein muschelrosafarbenes T-Shirt für Mädchen zum Preis von 13,90 Euro. Ein Kind, das in der Jungenversion in Schwarz abgebildet ist, hat bereits Boxhandschuhe an.

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Kontaktieren Sie das globale Ermittlungsteam von AP unter Investigative@ap.org oder https://www.ap.org/tips/

Tucker Carlson: They’re attempting to trick us with Soviet-style fakes

There are a lot of topics in the news these days. A lot of them are pretty depressing. This Friday we thought we were starting something pretty amusing.

As early as 2015, the so-called intelligence community of our government, which is neither intelligent nor a community, announced that it was going on a new five-year mission. The goal, according to the Obama administration, was to give every intelligence agency in the country more resources – the CIA, NSA, FBI, DIA and so on. Even the the coast guard The internal intelligence operation should have a larger budget.

Under normal circumstances, such an announcement would cause tremors of fear among our opponents around the world. They would tremble in their caves. The Chinese Perhaps you should think twice before bribing more Harvard professors or sending Eric Swalwell a new secret agent to have sex. But in this case they just laughed. Because they knew money couldn’t buy drones, more sophisticated surveillance equipment, or more local agents. Instead, it was earmarked for new platoons by Equity and Inclusion consultants and HR administrators.

The point of the money was to make the intelligence community “more diverse,” which means there are fewer whites and men. After all, America’s spies would look different. Which is indispensable when you … to … to … well, actually we don’t really know why it matters. What does the race and gender of intelligence workers have to do with America’s security? They never told us. Instead, they told us something we’d heard once or twice: “Diversity is our strength.”

PENTAGON says diversity training is essential to “defending the nation”

KAMALA HARRIS: Knowing our diversity is our strength and our unity is our strength.

PELOSI: And I tell you, our diversity is our strength.

OBAMA: Our diversity, our patchwork heritage is not a weakness. It is and will remain one of our greatest strengths.

BERNIE SANDERS: Our diversity is one of our greatest strengths.

BIDEN: I think this is an opportunity to see that there is a tremendous, tremendous force coming from our diversity.

How exactly does it work? Shut up. Just read the cliché. It’s on the menu.

AIR FORCE ACADEMY PROFESSOR PRESSES FOR MILITARY ACADEMIES TO TEACH CRITICAL RACING THEORY

Tremendous strength. We’re officially much stronger now. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has just released the evidence: It’s called Annual Demographic Report for Fiscal Year 2020: Hiring and Retention of Minorities, Women, and Persons with Disabilities in the United States Intelligence Community. Get a copy in time for Christmas – not to read it. It is not intended for reading. In fact, it is unreadable. But for the pictures. The pictures are amazing. We now have conclusive photographic evidence that our spy agencies employ multiple people of different skin color. There is even a woman in a wheelchair and a seemingly blind man.

How do we know he’s blind? We do not make such assumptions. Because he has Ray Charles glasses, a walking stick and a guide dog. If this seems like a lot to you, remember: the best spies have a backup plan. We say Russian Assassins follow our blind secret service agent when he picks up a dead drop of microfilm in a park in East Berlin. You somehow manage to take out his guide dog. Maybe with a network.

That’s OK. He can manage. He still has the cane and glasses. And by the way, we assume that the cane shoots curare darts. In the CIA, they think of everything. It’s your job.

US MILITARY OFFERED “WOKE” PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT COURSES TO DIVERSITY, EQUITY

What exactly is the blind man’s job? What is he doing in our fabled intelligence community? How does he keep America safe? We don’t doubt it is, but how? Well, we don’t know because the report doesn’t tell us. Nor does it explain why there appears to be some kind of dark halo around the lower part of the blind man’s body in the picture? What’s this? Spy steam?

Another question: where are the old people in the picture? Lots of Americans are pretty old. The Intel community says it’s diverse. Where are the seniors? Where are the 80 year old super spies? They would hate to think that for all their fame, the Biden people fell victim to age discrimination. We may need a class action lawsuit to resolve this. And while we’re at it, we honestly haven’t seen many trans women, non-binary pansexual twofold spirits, or a single person from Malawi. The picture we greeted with joy looks problematic.

Indeed it is. According to freelance intelligence analysis, on Twitter – Digital manipulation experts – this picture is not real. These people were never in the same room at the same time. Some don’t even work for their federal government. Maybe none of them. The whole thing is a disinformation campaign. It’s a Soviet style fake. Apparently, the Intel community spent part of its “diversity budget” not to achieve diversity, but to buy a stock image from a website called “Shutterstock”.

TUCKER CARLSON: US MILITARY IS FULLY AWAKENED AND WATCHING WAR AGAINST THOSE WHO DO NOT AGREE WITH THEM

This picture is titled, quote: “Portrait of a multicultural office worker standing in the lobby.” You can also buy it and put it on your next Christmas card if you want.

But apparently the archive photo of the multicultural office staff was not multicultural or diverse enough for the Biden people. So they added two more stock pictures to the picture.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

One of these images – also available on Shutterstock – is literally called “Blind young man with guide dog on a white background”. What is what it is The other is creatively titled “Beautiful businesswoman with tablet computer in a wheelchair on a white background”.

Hm. So these aren’t real intelligence agents. They are archive photos. On one level, this is good news. The Secret Service hasn’t really revealed the identity of its most attractive wheelchair-bound spy or blind 007. So you are safe.

This article is extracted from Tucker Carlson’s opening comment on the March 26, 2021 issue of Tucker Carlson Tonight.

DoorDash and Uber Eats Are Scorching. They’re Nonetheless Not Making Cash.

Food-delivery companies did record-breaking business during the pandemic, as millions of homebound Americans embraced the idea of ordering dinner via smartphone apps. Their valuations skyrocketed. They acquired reams of data that helped increase their efficiency. There was just one problem: Even at the height of their success, they weren’t making any money.

“You really need to optimize things to the cent,” said Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, the global chief of Uber’s delivery business, which includes Uber Eats.

At the height of the pandemic, DoorDash delivery workers made more deliveries in an hour, on average, than in previous years.



Photo:

Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Delivering food is an expensive logistical undertaking. Apps earn money by charging restaurants a percentage of the order, as well as by charging consumers a service fee. They then dip into those earnings to pay drivers, their biggest expense.

After accounting for advertising costs and refunds to customers, among other operational expenses, DoorDash on average is left with 2.5% of a customer’s overall bill, according to a

Deutsche Bank

analysis. That means DoorDash ended up with 90 cents on the average order during the height of the pandemic, worth around $36.

The math isn’t pretty, but it’s the best in the industry. While DoorDash hasn’t posted an annual profit in its eight years of operation, it slipped out of the red for one quarter last year, becoming the only food-delivery company in the U.S. to do so during the health crisis.

Feast or Famine

An average DoorDash order during the pandemic* cost the customer almost $36, out of which the delivery company made less than $1 in profit.

Food: $24.04

Tax: $1.82

Tip: $3.54

Fees: $6.15

Total: $35.55

The delivery person takes:

Delivery fee: $5.37

Tip: $3.54

Total: $8.91

After paying the restaurant and delivery person, DoorDash is left with:

Remaining: $4.85

Refunds: –$0.49

Promotions: –$0.55

Advertising: –$1.01

Other costs: –$1.90

Profit: $0.90

Food: $24.04

Tax: $1.82

Tip: $3.54

Fees: $6.15

Total: $35.55

The delivery person takes:

Delivery fee: $5.37

Tip: $3.54

Total: $8.91

After paying the restaurant and delivery person, DoorDash is left with:

Remaining: $4.85

Refunds: –$0.49

Promotions: –$0.55

Advertising: –$1.01

Other costs: –$1.90

Profit: $0.90

Analysts don’t expect the companies to turn profitable for at least a few more years. For now, they say, they’re looking for the industry to prove that it can continue to grow and improve profit margins, even as diners return to restaurants.

“This is a cost-intensive business that is low-margin and scale driven—that is absolutely correct,” said DoorDash Chief Operating Officer Christopher Payne.

Executives at DoorDash and Uber have spent the past year testing what they hope will be the secret sauce. They want to raise customers’ average order size by expanding into more lucrative offerings like groceries and alcohol; bundle nonperishable goods with food to drive down delivery costs; and use technology to reduce errors by restaurants and drivers, translating into fewer refunds.

Some rivals doubt that diversifying into new categories and slashing operating costs is the key to profits. Grubhub, which pioneered online ordering for restaurants for pickup or delivery by the food business’s employees and reluctantly embraced delivery to ward off competition from DoorDash and others, is set to be acquired by European giant

Just Eat Takeaway.com

NV next month. It says it intends to go back to its roots as an online marketing service for restaurants.

Food delivery “is and always will be a crummy business,” Grubhub Chief Executive

Matt Maloney

said. As restaurants recover, Mr. Maloney believes more orders will shift away from app delivery, but online ordering will remain popular, whether for pickup or for transportation by the restaurants’ own personnel. Grubhub’s advertising service, he said, will hold the key to its future profitability.

Grubhub is skeptical about its competitors’ varying bets. “Everyone else in the industry is doubling down on their logistics plays and talking about how smart they are and what a great technology company they are,” Mr. Maloney, the CEO, said. “I think the right choice is to be a better restaurant company.”

A game of seconds and cents

Shaving seconds off a transaction can mean the difference between an order that adds to or subtracts from the bottom line. The companies have used lessons learned over the past year to improve efficiency and reduce some operational costs.

DoorDash driver Mark Ferguson says the app now makes more efficient use of his time—something he noticed when he started delivering food again in March after a yearlong hiatus. The app matches him with restaurants closer to the time orders are ready, cutting his waiting time.

The 47-year-old, who has logged more than 6,000 DoorDash deliveries since 2015, also saves time en route to deliveries because the company has integrated Google Maps into its app interface for drivers. Previously, if he wanted to use Google Maps he had to toggle between the two. Deliveries have become smoother, too: So-called Dashers are asked to upload photos, which customers can see, showing where they leave the food, reducing reports of missed orders.

Online orders accounted for nearly half of Chipotle’s sales last year, up from 11% in 2019.



Photo:

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg News

“The way that I spend my time as a Dasher changed,” said Mr. Ferguson.

Deutsche Bank says that DoorDash drivers made 44% more deliveries in an hour at the height of last year’s pandemic lockdowns compared with three years earlier.

There are still plenty of roadblocks along the apps’ route to profitability.

While early data show that consumers who embraced the apps during the pandemic may stick around as the health crisis fades, growth is expected to slow from the breakneck pace of 2020.

More than 70 U.S. municipalities or states, seeking to help local businesses, temporarily capped what apps could charge restaurants last year during the pandemic, according to the Protect Our Restaurants advocacy group. Major cities are considering making those changes permanent, a move that would squeeze apps’ already slim margins.

As road traffic increases and restaurant kitchens run at capacity again, operational efficiency may decline despite the measures app companies have taken. Some big chains are reducing their reliance on delivery already, raising menu prices on apps and investing in high-tech pickup services to drive more direct orders.

At

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.,

online orders accounted for nearly half of the chain’s $6 billion in sales last year, up from 11% in 2019. Delivery accounted for about half of those online sales, but emerged as the least profitable category.

Chief Technology Officer

Curt Garner

said Chipotle’s prices on delivery apps now average 17% higher than those in stores after company data scientists did market research on how much they could raise costs.

The company also found that more customers opted for online-order drive-throughs when they were available, Mr. Garner said. Chipotle is now building dozens of “Chipotlanes” across the country.

Food-delivery apps, mindful of restaurants’ pullback, have started altering their terms. Late last month, DoorDash said it would allow restaurants to choose from three commission rates, offering varying degrees of marketing and product support based on the selection. Uber is experimenting with something similar. Previously, restaurants didn’t have a choice. Some bigger chains used their scale to negotiate commissions as low as 15%. Many small restaurants paid apps as much as 30% of every order. Grubhub this month joined its rivals in saying it would build individual websites for independent restaurants for a monthly fixed fee, instead of extracting commissions on each order. The move is designed to give restaurants more access to consumer data, the company said.

Apps are also appealing to regulators. Uber and DoorDash representatives met in April with members of the New York City Council who were considering making 20% commission caps permanent. Uber argued that it is a smaller and better actor in the city compared with its competitors, according to a person briefed on the discussions. DoorDash told the lawmakers that it had discontinued certain practices, such as listing restaurants on its app without their permission, this person said. The Council is still considering extending the cap or making it permanent.

Bigger orders, fewer errors

DoorDash and Uber have spent the past few months positioning themselves to offer more than just food. Executives say the move gives customers reasons to keep coming back—and they believe the habit will stick. Together, the companies control over 85% of food-delivery sales in the U.S., according to market-research firm Edison Trends.

In the middle of last year, the two companies expanded to delivering groceries, alcohol and household supplies like toilet paper. Part of the pitch: the ease of ordering everything on one app.

DoorDash and Uber Eats have been looking for ways to encourage users to place grocery orders.



Photo:

Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Uber says that starting next month it will allow consumers to combine their food order with a convenience run from a nearby store. DoorDash is testing a similar feature.

A grocery or alcohol order is typically more lucrative than food, so apps can drive up people’s basket sizes and, in turn, their revenue. They can also get “better and better about upselling,” said Mr. Payne, the DoorDash COO. Now, he said, apps can ask: “Do you want fries with that? Do you want a Cabernet Sauvignon with that?”

Non-restaurant orders accounted for 7% of DoorDash’s orders in the first quarter of 2021, and grew at a blistering pace of 40% compared with the fourth quarter of 2020. Earlier this month, the company raised its full-year outlook on the total value of orders placed on its platform.

The strategy is also helping apps drive down their biggest expense: the cost of the delivery itself. Food-delivery apps couldn’t always wait to combine a tiny order with a more lucrative one because hot meals needed to be delivered quickly. Executives say expanding into nonperishable items is letting them bundle deliveries in a way they couldn’t with food alone.

Analysts say food-delivery penetration is still low despite last year’s rapid adoption—only 6% of the U.S. population uses DoorDash, the nation’s biggest food-delivery service by market share—so “outside of a city like New York, it’s still very early days,” Deutsche Bank analyst

Lloyd Walmsley

said.

DoorDash leapfrogged its rivals to command more than half of the U.S. food-delivery market in January, up from one-third a year ago, thanks to a strong footprint in the suburbs that drove large, family-style orders, a wider selection of restaurants and better operational efficiency that helped it win business from consumers.

Delivery-app companies are seeking profits in part by expanding into alcohol sales, which tend to be more profitable than restaurant food orders.



Photo:

Allison Dinner/REUTERS

An open question is whether its suburban footprint will continue to serve as an advantage. Drivers have more ground to cover, but deliveries can be faster because of less traffic and shorter wait times, such as less time spent trying to find parking or taking elevators to restaurants or customers’ apartments. Labor is cheaper too.

Another way the companies burn money is by refunding consumers. Sometimes, small product changes can make a big difference.

Uber’s Mr. Gore-Coty was struck at how many consumers complained about missing combo meals during the early months of the pandemic. When he dug into the problem, he found that in fact, major parts of the combos generally arrived, but often missed items like a side salad or dessert.

The app didn’t allow consumers to say that one of the items within the combo was missing, leaving Uber to refund the cost of the entire meal. Last summer the company began allowing consumers to break down items missing from a combo.

To minimize errors, apps are tweaking the technology they provide restaurants, too. Before the pandemic, the item most commonly missing from

Cheesecake Factory Inc.

delivery orders was cheesecake itself. Restaurant staff would pack hot food but leave cold cheesecakes to be packed later. That increased the likelihood that staffers would forget about the cheesecake.

DoorDash’s solution was to integrate reminders into the restaurant’s delivery tablets so orders with cheesecakes displayed notes in big, bold letters. The change reduced missing desserts as staffers were less likely to overlook them when they handed orders to Dashers. DoorDash says cheesecake is no longer its most-forgotten item.

GrubHub will start giving independent restaurants the option of paying a flat monthly fee for online-ordering websites, instead of commissions on orders.



Photo:

Mariah Tauger/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

DoorDash used what it learned from the Cheesecake Factory to minimize errors at other restaurants as orders surged. It began placing instructions from customers, such as no cucumbers on a salad, in a larger font above the order so kitchens saw it before preparing meals.

“A lot of it has to do with tech placement—bold versus red versus other things,” said Toby Espinosa, a DoorDash vice president who previously worked with restaurants on the technology. “A small little thing like this can drive a crazy amount of operational output.”

Grubhub is developing a customer guarantee for its orders. If a delivery is late, for example, Grubhub will cover the cost and offer customer credits, even if it’s the restaurant’s fault, Mr. Maloney said. Mr. Maloney said he expects his business to make money once restaurants are operating at full capacity and profitable again, allowing them to spend more on advertising services such as Grubhub.

Seeking new customers and clients

Apps are seeking ways to attract new users without overspending on advertising dollars—another drag on their bottom lines.

Uber’s Mr. Gore-Coty is relying on its ride-sharing app to attract new Eats users. Last month, Uber introduced new features that further entwined its ride app with its delivery business so it could drive up Eats orders as people begin moving around again.

One feature enables passengers to book and pick up meals while en route somewhere in an Uber. The company began pinging passengers requesting trips from airports, asking whether they would like food delivered to their destination through the Eats app.

Some 13% of Uber Eats’ new users in the fourth quarter navigated to it from the rides app, making executives confident that the number would accelerate after the latest changes.

Apps are also trying to find ways to convert more users into monthly subscribers. Subscribers pay the apps a fixed monthly fee in exchange for reduced fees on orders. They tend to order more frequently and have bigger basket sizes compared with nonsubscribers.

Demand for food delivery has soared amid the pandemic, but restaurants are struggling to survive. In a fiercely competitive industry, delivery services are fighting to gain market share while facing increased pressure to lower commission fees and provide more protection to their workers. Video/Photo: Jaden Urbi/WSJ

Both Uber and DoorDash are offering free trial subscriptions, hoping consumers stick around once they buy into the convenience. Deutsche Bank estimated in January that if DoorDash doubled its monthly subscribers this year, it would post yearly growth, even if order sizes and frequency fell to pre-Covid levels.

DoorDash’s shares are up nearly 50% from its IPO listing price in December. Uber’s shares crashed in mid-March of last year, when widespread lockdowns crushed its core ride-sharing business, but have more than doubled since then. Grubhub’s stock lept after the Just Eat acquisition announcement last year and continued to grow last year, but has cooled since.

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One strategy that is helping Uber and DoorDash drive more profitable deliveries is handling the logistics for businesses beyond restaurants. While the companies struck some partnerships before the pandemic, they doubled down on the offering as many kinds of businesses grew more reliant on delivery during the pandemic. Customers order directly on those businesses’ websites, which then turn to apps like Uber and DoorDash to fulfill them. DoorDash now provides delivery services for

Walmart Inc.,

Macy’s Inc.

and

Petco Health and Wellness Co.

, among others.

These orders are more profitable because apps don’t need to refund consumers for errors, nor do they need to spend money on marketing. Clients like Walmart bring big business, meaning drivers typically carry more than one order at the same time, lowering apps’ delivery cost.

Deutsche Bank’s Mr. Walmsley estimates that DoorDash makes a profit of $2 on such a delivery, as opposed to the 90 cents it made on the average food order in the middle of last year.

In such setting, even minor gains in efficiency can mean the difference between losing and making money: “It’s a game of seconds and inches,” Mr. Walmsley said.

Write to Preetika Rana at preetika.rana@wsj.com and Heather Haddon at heather.haddon@wsj.com

The Next Act for Delivery Apps

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Carnivals? They’re on for 2021. | Arts & leisure

While 2020 was a bankruptcy for local volunteer firefighting companies hosting Carnival, 2021 was kind of a rollercoaster ride for organizers as they try to bypass the “current” COVID-19 restrictions and weigh the financial risk against the benefits. to say the carnival … “Here we go!”

For the Mount Airy 4 County Lions Club, it’s June 7-12 at the Mount Airy Carnival Grounds. “We’re putting this together pretty quickly,” said Carnival chairwoman Tanya Miller. She said there were some doubts but the club decided to move the carnival forward around mid-March. Usually planning for the following year starts in September.

Rosedale Attractions offer more space between driving and play configurations at the Carnival in Mount Airy and there are hand disinfection and washing stations throughout the site.

“It’s a gamble,” she said, noting that they only have one community sponsor so far and would welcome more. Live entertainment is limited to Thursday through Saturday. Reed and Son Services in Mount Airy sponsor the Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute band Brickyard Road on Saturday. The music for the other two nights will be announced at a later date.

The carnivals are important fundraising campaigns for the voluntary fire and rescue companies. They host dinner and bingo, rent event halls to the public, and host other activities. With these revenue streams locked down in 2020, the county’s Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services division estimated the losses to the companies could exceed $ 1.5 million. Frederick County provided more than $ 1 million from a federal CARES Act grant to help volunteer fire and rescue companies with some operational costs.

Some volunteer companies got creative with their fundraisers, such as B. Drive-through meals, online raffles and food truck days.

The Smithsburg Volunteer Fire Co. held a successful mail-in fundraiser and online raffles. The carnival is canceled for 2021, but the company hopes to resume it in 2022.

The Libertytown Volunteer Fire Department ended their annual carnival several years ago, said Chip Jewell, president. Instead, LVFD hosted smaller community events, such as the golf tournament fundraiser on June 4th and the popular athlete’s raffle and dinner in September. He said they are considering other revenue-generating options for later this year.

The Urbana voluntary fire brigade organized drive-through evenings in autumn and winter. “We did well,” said Donna Houck, a volunteer, member of the Auxiliary and Carnival Chairs.

Houck said the board would make a decision on its carnival at its meeting in early June.

Middletown Volunteer Fire Co. is also undecided, but nothing is planned at the moment.

The Thurmont Ambulance Co. is holding its carnival in the Thurmont Event Complex from June 1st to 5th with evening entertainment, rides, games and evening buffets.

Walkersville Volunteer Fire Co. recently announced that the 81st annual Mardi Gras will be July 5-10, with food, games, rides and entertainment, and fireworks on July 9th.

The Guardian Hose Co.’s Thurmont Firemen’s Carnival returns July 6-10 with rides and amusement, but there won’t be a parade.

The Jefferson Ruritan Club plans its annual Mardi Gras for July 26th through July 31st with rides, entertainment, food service, and evening entertainment.

Volunteer firefighting companies in Boonsboro, Union Bridge, New Windsor, Carroll Manor, Taneytown, Harney, Manchester, Mount Airy and Rocky Ridge, as well as the Burkittsville Ruritan Club have also canceled Mardi Gras for 2021. Winfield Community Fire Co. will make his decision soon.

For updates and other ways to raise funds, visit the fire department’s website or Facebook page.

Stephen King Highlights Two Reveals As ‘Unbeatable Leisure,’ And They’re Each Streaming

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Stephen King is not only one of the most prolific and popular writers of the past 50 years, but also someone who is never afraid to make his opinion known about pop culture. It’s something he’s been doing for decades as his pull quotes can be found in a wide variety of films, books, and more. In the past few years he has used social media in one of these ways. Hell, he’s been briefing his followers over the past few weeks how excited he is for M. Night Shyamalan’s new film, Old and how much he loves the Servant series on Apple TV + (which Shyamalan produces funny enough).

Now he’s back and starts a quick new post on his personal one Twitter Page – and this time he highlights one of the best adaptations of his books (Mr. Mercedes) and a show he enjoys without a personal connection (The Sinner). Check out his tweet below!

NSU basketball: they’re taking part in with home cash at this level

At least that was what head coach Robert Jones suggested when referring to the pressure on his team.

INDIANAPOLIS – The Norfolk State Spartans fled Monday. It was the first time they left their rooms in Indianapolis. What better way to get away than to go to the practice area?

NSU only has a few days to prepare for March Madness. Her first foursome with Appalachian State gives a tip on Thursday night.

Head coach Robert Jones is trying to keep that focus on the first game, despite number one Gonzaga in the country waiting for the winner on Saturday.

Jones took a moment to look ahead. Of course, the Spartans got the shock over Missouri in the first round in 2012. According to Jones, it’s a completely different game than Norfolk State-Missouri. If we play this game, they’ll have to make a statue of Echols in front of them. “

But he quickly added, “First things first, Appalachian State.”

The main part of Monday’s training was getting back into rhythm. They looked relaxed. When asked if there is additional pressure now, Jones said, “I’ve had more pressure to play Central and Morgan than now. I’m not saying I’m relaxed because I’m a competitor and I want to go all the way.” to the last four if I can. “

Jones says of those who automatically qualified, like the Spartans, “All of us, not just us, are playing house money at this point because it’s so hard to get there. Now it just goes off.”

In such an odd season where almost everyone has postponed a handful of games due to COVID, there is great uncertainty about the NCAA tournament. Jones ponders, “It’s really open to anyone who is honest. And we hope we can be anyone who does the run. Why not us?”