We’d like to call your attention to this interesting Sunday Times article (and not just ’cause we’re quoted in it). It’s about the internet-based food delivery company SeamlessWeb. The Times explains:
Every weekday, when they are hungry, thousands of the most highly paid workers in New York City will log on to the same Web site. Finding food while they work requires just a few clicks of the mouse, and fits neatly into their multitasking, desk-bound work lives. Few of those employees will ever see the bill or pay a tip when their food is delivered. Instead, their orders are processed, and billed to their employers, through a single company: SeamlessWeb.
SeamlessWeb may be little known outside the high-powered business world. But it has instant name recognition with almost any elite corporate lawyer, investment banker or management consultant in the city. At hundreds of firms, a SeamlessWeb log-on has joined the company ID and the e-mail address as de rigueur accouterments for the new hire.
We can remember when logging on to SeamlessWeb, to order saag paneer or a black-and-tan milkshake, was the highlight of our day (or night). Biglaw life definitely has its perks.
Of course, SeamlessWeb — like, say, a Blackberry or a firm laptop — is both a blessing and a curse. It’s tremendously convenient. But it is part of a Biglaw culture designed to keep associates productive around the clock, without any excuses or distractions to take them away from work.
A little more about SeamlessWeb, after the jump.
We didn’t know, until reading Jennifer 8. Lee’s article, that SeamlessWeb was started by lawyers:
The potential of SeamlessWeb germinated in the mind of Jason Finger in the late 1990’s when he was a 27-year-old first-year lawyer at O’Sullivan, Graev & Karabell, a Midtown law firm. He was hungry while working one Thanksgiving weekend and was frustrated by the lack of food options. He discussed his idea for a sophisticated delivery service with a former law school classmate, Paul Appelbaum, who shared his entrepreneurial sensibilities. They raised money from people who would understand the need for the service they wanted to provide.
“We targeted lawyers and investment bankers for the initial financing,” Mr. Finger said. They raised $340,000 in seed money and began operating in early 2000. The chief financial officer at Mr. Finger’s law firm said that it would be his first customer. Last June, SeamlessWeb was acquired by Aramark, a giant food services corporation, for an undisclosed sum. The initial investors did very well, said Mr. Finger.
Could SeamlessWeb extend its tentacles into residential delivery, allowing us to order in without having to repeat our order three times over the telephone?
SeamlessWeb has expanded into the home delivery market, but that has been a more difficult path, says Mr. Finger. Company surveys show that consumers strongly associate the SeamlessWeb brand with work, and it turns out that work is not something they necessarily want to bring home with them.
But in the office, SeamlessWeb is invaluable, Mr. Lat said. “It really does fit with the 24/7 workaholic New York culture,” he said. “Everything can be done for you. They would bring you food. They would bring you drinks. They would make you coffee. The only thing that they couldn’t do for you was go to the bathroom.”
And on that note, lunch time.
Hungry Workers, Tied to Desks, Clicking to Get Culinary Delights [New York Times]
Seamless Web [official website]