After his divorce, Jet.com founder Marc Lore wasn’t sure how he wanted to plan meals for himself. “I was living alone, ordering food in. I wasn’t cooking," he says. “It just sort of hit me that when I was married, my ex-wife stayed at home with the kids, and she cooked meals. Many families don’t have that luxury.”
The experience led Lore, known for his e-commerce expertise since the mid-2000s success of Diapers.com, to think of an idea for his next chapter. In January 2021, he left Walmart, where he had led e-commerce for five years after the mega-retailer’s acquisition of Jet.com. In December, he announced his new role as CEO of his next venture: Wonder Group, a new food delivery service that has reportedly raised $500 million from investors. In its pilot program in New Jersey, which has been operating for about a year (Lore founded the company while still at Walmart), customers can order from mobile food trucks that cook traditional delivery options or family-style dining while parked outside the customer’s home.
“I thought it would be incredible if you could bring home-cooked food of high quality to people’s doors,” Lore says.
A month after Lore announced his new role, Wonder is bringing on a new investor and board member: Gwyneth Paltrow, the actor and founder of lifestyle business Goop.
Paltrow and Lore met more than five years ago through a mutual venture capital backer, NEA general partner Tony Florence. Paltrow says she’s turned to Lore in the years since as an adviser on Goop’s growth in e-commerce. “Marc is obviously one of the foremost minds in e-commerce,” Paltrow says. “And we’ve always been aligned on great food and wine…Obviously, food is a passion of mine, so when this came up, I was super excited.”
While Wonder is servicing just four towns right now with 60 mobile kitchens and 17 restaurants, Lore sees the business—and its model of vertical integration from food prep through delivery—scaling to take on DoorDash and Uber Eats, which he says would require hiring close to 1 million people nationwide. He compares Wonder’s model to Amazon’s: the marriage of first-party sales with the more common third-party marketplace. “That combination was how Amazon got to where they are, and in a similar way, the [food delivery] market right now is all third-party marketplace. We have a robust first-party offering where the quality of the food is higher, the speed is faster, and the customer service is better.”
Lore says his years in e-commerce will help him distinguish Wonder from competitors by applying the “operational expertise” required to sell low-margin products like diapers to the business of food delivery. “Things you wouldn’t typically do at a high-margin business because it doesn’t matter as much—it’s going to pay dividends for us,” he says.
Paltrow, who has published several cookbooks, has ideas for the business, too, like encouraging Wonder chefs and restaurant partners—who include Marcus Samuelsson and Bobby Flay—to cook with higher-quality pans and avoid hydrogenated oils. “If Marc is able to pull this off the way he pulls off other things, it’ll be a big business—they’ll be growing a lot of food, and the impacts at scale will be phenomenal,” she says. “I have lots of ideas, but I haven’t even told Marc about the oils and pans yet.”
Paltrow will sit on Wonder’s board with Lore and Florence along with Sameer Gandhi, a venture capitalist with Accel; Dave Munichiello, a venture capitalist with GV; and Scott Hilton, the exec who worked with Lore at Diapers.com and now serves as CEO of Wonder, the food delivery business within Wonder Group.
Lore isn’t the only hyper-successful founder to try his hand at the ghost kitchen model after leaving a prior business. Uber founder Travis Kalanick began building the ghost kitchen platform for restaurant delivery CloudKitchens.
This story was originally featured on Fortune.com