End of Sharing Economy? Home-Cooked Reportedly Closed

Cooking-sharing app Home-Cooked has halted operations, the Paper reported Wednesday, showing the downsides of sharing economy in today’s China.

“Our platform is going to close,” Home-Cooked sent out a message to its users. “To get your refunds processed, please submit requests before June 1.”

Home-Cooked was designed to share cooking from private kitchens with people who were craving for home-made food but had no time to cook themselves. Users could order online in advance, and either choose to dine at the cook’s house or order a delivery. Known for its home-cooking style and reasonable prices, Home-Cooked soon rose to popularity soon after its launch in October 2014 attracting millions of users from all over China. During its peak month, millions of deals were made on the app, and each cook completed over 100 orders.

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The founder of Home-Cooked, Tang Wanli, was one of the youngest managers at Alibaba. After leaving Alibaba, Tang had been looking for start-up ideas. The then-booming sharing economy gave Tang an idea to share kitchens and “Uber” cooking.

“I’m so sad I didn’t save the cook’s contacts,” a user posted online. “That was the only place I could find mom’s taste.”

Though many users were saddened by the closure of Home-Cooked, some raised an alarm about the food safety on the app. Food providers on the app were mostly private kitchens without food distribution permits, thus the materials and the cooking environment were unstandardized and unsupervised. According to a Home-Cooked worker, registered cooks on the app only needed to provide IDs and health certificates, while food distribution permits were not required. As customers become more and more cautious of food safety, sharing-kitchens may never come back without a robust supervision system.