Mikey Tom December 23, 2016
In hopes of securing a $3 billion valuation when the company ultimately goes public, meal-kit delivery service Blue Apron has delayed preparations for an upcoming IPO to shore up its financial health, according to Bloomberg. Blue Apron reportedly held initial talks with banks in June regarding a public offering but has since postponed hiring underwriters until sometime in 2017.
Founded in 2012, Blue Apron sells meal kits that include pre-measured and proportioned ingredients designed to help customers prepare complex dishes quickly and easily. The company touts itself as a socially conscious enterprise, working to support a sustainable food system by sourcing produce from family-run farms that grow specialty products just for Blue Apron.
But the company is not without its brown spots. In an effort to streamline its supply chain and optimize the production and shipping of thousands of meal kits, Blue Apron has apparently cut some corners. Buzzfeed released an extensive report in early October detailing working conditions at the company’s facility in Richmond, CA, including multiple health & safety violations and violent incidents involving disgruntled workers.
That said, the meal deliverer is still a leader in its expanding industry, which includes other venture-backed companies such as Plated and HelloFresh. Blue Apron has raised almost $200 million in equity funding from notable firms such as First Round Capital and Bessemer Venture Partners. Its most recent financing—a $135 million round in June 2015—valued the company at a whopping $2 billion, a nearly fourfold increase from a $550 million valuation secured in Blue Apron's Series C barely a year prior.
The news came at the end of a week that had already seen reports that both Airbnb and SoFi will also postpone planned IPOs. For Airbnb, the reason is a desire to expand its product line before testing the public waters, while SoFi was deterred by a noted cooling of investor interest in the fintech industry, among other things.
While this rapid succession of delayed IPOs could dishearten investors—especially after 2016 saw the fewest completed VC-backed public offerings since 2009, according to the PitchBook Platform—there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon in the shape of a ghost. Snap is widely expected to complete its much-anticipated IPO sometime next quarter, and a warm reception could help open the window for other venture-backed companies.
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