Tyson Foods sold its stake in alternative protein company Beyond Meat


JakeOfSpades |

  • Tyson Foods sold its stake in the alternative protein company Beyond Meat, which is expected to go public next week at a valuation of more than $1 billion.
  • Relations between the two companies had been uneasy, particularly after Tyson CEO, Noel White, announced that the company will be creating its own plant-based protein products last February, Axios reported. 
  • It remains unclear who the buyer is or what the sale price was.

Tyson Foods sold its stake in Beyond Meat, an alternative protein company, set to go public next week.

Relations between the two companies had become tense, particularly after Tyson CEO, Noel White, announced that the company will be creating its own plant-based protein products last February, multiple sources confirmed to Axios.

Reportedly, Beyond Meat no longer wanted the Tyson Ventures representative to attend its board meetings, despite his attendance being a contractual right.

A part of the deterioration of the relationship was due to fear of competition between the two companies; Tyson was interested in the alternative protein market especially after seeing its quick-serve and broader restaurant sector potential, Axios reported. The other concern was that Tyson would interfere with potential mergers or acquisitions, yet the nature of the interference is unclear, the report said.

Tyson Foods confirmed the sale in a statement to CNBC.

“Tyson Ventures is pleased with the investment in Beyond Meat and has decided the time is right to exit its investment. Beyond Meat provided an early opportunity for Tyson Ventures to invest in plant-based protein products that many consumers are seeking. We wish the leadership of Beyond Meat all the best,” the statement said.

“Tyson Foods continues to be committed to providing alternative protein as a choice for consumers and recently announced the creation of a new business focused on combining our creativity, scale and resources to make great tasting protein alternatives more accessible for everyone. We plan to launch an alternative protein product soon with market testing anticipated this summer,” the statement added.

It remains unclear who the buyer is or what the sale price was as there ceases to be a new shareholder with a 5% stake in the company. It is also not known whether Tyson decided to sell its stake on its own or whether it was at Beyond Meat’s request.

Tyson Foods was still listed on an April 15 amended IPO filing, but did not appear on the filing submitted on Monday, according to Axios.

Having invested a total of $34 million between 2016 and 2017, Tyson Foods had a 6.5% ownership stake in Beyond Meat last November when the latter filed for its IPO. 

On Monday, Beyond Meat said it was hoping to raise $183.8 million in its debut, which would give it a valuation of $1.21 billion. At that valuation, Tyson’s stake would have been worth just under $79 million.

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Zoom tops Lyft as the most valuable tech IPO of the year so far


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  • Zoom rallied 72% in its first day of trading on Thursday and has continued to rise.
  • In just its third day on the public markets, Zoom has already become the most valuable of all the tech companies to go public this year.
  • Lyft, by contrast, has sunk since its debut last month as investors anticipate the IPO of larger rival Uber.

In just its third day of trading, Zoom has already surpassed Lyft to become the most valuable of all the tech companies to go public this year.

Zoom jumped 5% on Tuesday to $69 to close trading with a market capitalization of $17.7 billion. The stock surged 72% in its debut on Thursday and then rose 6% on Monday. Lyft fell 1.1% on Tuesday to $60.25 and is now valued at $17.2 billion. Pinterest, which also hit the market on last week, is worth $13.7 billion.

The three companies have kicked off what’s expected to be a big year for high-profile tech IPOs, with Uber’s offering right around the corner and Slack’s expected direct listing not far behind as well as an expected share sale from Postmates.

Zoom’s fast start even surprised founder and CEO Eric Yuan. Pinterest and Lyft had raised money at much higher valuations in the private market and both are much bigger in terms of revenue. But Zoom is growing more rapidly than it’s consumer peers, more than doubling sales in 2018, and the company is profitable while the others continue to burn cash.

The videoconferencing company’s rally so far stands in stark contrast to Lyft’s rocky start to trading. Since its debut on March 29, Lyft has seen its stock price fall 16% from its $72 IPO price as investors anticipate Uber’s offering.

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Pinterest's employee No. 2 left before his equity vested ,a move that cost him millions


JakeOfSpades |

When Pinterest went public Thursday at a $10 billion valuation, key stakeholders got very wealthy. As of Monday, Pinterest is worth almost $13 billion and co-founder and CEO Ben Silbermann is worth $1.6 billion, according to Forbes.

But for the second employee ever at Pinterest, Sahil Lavingia, Thursday did not bring riches.

That’s because the now 26-year-old Provo, Utah, resident left his job at Pinterest in 2011 — before his equity shares vested — to build Gumroad, an e-commerce platform for creators that he believed would become a billion-dollar company.

That’s not what happened.

Lavingia says he was given 0.75 percent equity in what was then Pinterest’s parent company, Cold Brew Labs, when he joined (at age 18) in 2010 — stock that would have vested as Pinterest stock if he stayed at the company for four years, he tells CNBC Make It.

That equity would likely be worth tens of millions of dollars with Thursday’s IPO, he estimates. Lavingia’s current assets, including Gumroad, are worth one tenth as much money, he says.

“Financially, staying at Pinterest would have been definitely the right move if I was looking to maximize my bank balance,” Lavingia says.

“It’s tough, honestly. I don’t think it is easy to watch a company that you contributed to, I would say pretty significantly — you know, I built Pinterest for iPhone — and not see the reward,” he says. “Emotionally there is, I am sure, a lot of attachment there.”

(Pinterest did not immediately respond to CNBC Make It’s request for comment.)

Still, Lavingia says he does not regret his time at Pinterest despite his frustration watching the company going public without him. Working at a start-up in its early days was an irreplaceable experience, he says.

“Even though Pinterest is going to IPO for $10 billion and I am going to feel terrible for a week, it was still worth it,” Lavingia told CNBC Make It on Wednesday.

Immediately after leaving Pinterest, Lavingia got off to an impressive start building Gumroad, raising more than $1 million from a collection of big name angel investors and venture capitalists including Max Levchin, Chris Sacca, Ron Conway, Naval Ravikant, Collaborative Fund, Accel Partners and First Round Capital. Only a few months later, in May 2012, Gumroad raised another $7 million, lead by Mike Abbott from the top-notch venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB).

But despite the glamorous launch and early growth at Gumroad, demand for what it was building was limited: “A lot of creators absolutely loved us, but there weren’t enough of them who needed our specific product offering,” Lavingia wrote in a February Medium post.

After a circuitous journey that included having to lay off virtually his entire team and moving out of the posh San Francisco offices, Gumroad is alive and supporting its customers, but it is not by any stretch a billion-dollar company, he says.

The roller coaster of Lavingia’s business life forced the young entrepreneur to face his own failures and misjudgements — and it’s also forced Lavingia to evolve his thinking about what it means to be successful. Where he used to be singularly obsessed with the idea of launching a unicorn start-up, now his goals are more nuanced.

“I would be lying if I say that there is no appeal to that anymore. I still think there is a lot of value that you can do and definitely I would not say no to it,” Lavingia tells CNBC Make It.

But “if that happens, it is a side effect of building something awesome versus a goal,” he says. “Before I was more intentional about, I want to work on problems that are going to get me to that point. Whereas now I am less excited about that, and more about solving something I really want to solve.

“And you know, maybe one day in the future Gumroad can get there, I don’t know. But it’s not, it’s not the focus for me anymore, for sure.”

Lavingia even left tech hub San Francisco in 2017.

“I wanted to work on something new, and I needed new ideas. So I moved to the place most full of people not like me: Provo, Utah,” Lavingia says in a 2018 LinkedIn post. Lavingia’s parents immigrated to New York from India and he spent most of his childhood in Singapore. “I gave away all of my furniture and landed in Provo on a Sunday, five suitcases in tow, hoping for some grand epiphany about my path forward.”

“I am not a fundamentally different person than the one I was a year ago, but I am a little bit better,” Lavingia wrote on LinkedIn.

Today, Lavingia is still working on Gumroad, which brought in $385,000 in revenue and $152,000 in gross profits in March, according to the company. And Lavingia was able to get out from under some of the intensity of having venture capital investors — Gumroad’s lead investor, venture capital firm KPBC, wanted out when the executive in charge of the investment left to start his own company, and Gumroad has been able to buy back “a couple more” investors, he says.

That has given Lavingia room to build Gumroad more slowly.

“We would never become a billion-dollar company, and that started to feel okay,” he wrote on Medium.

“For years, my only metric of success was building a billion-dollar company. Now, I realize that was a terrible goal. It’s completely arbitrary and doesn’t accurately reflect impact. I’m not making an excuse or pretending that I didn’t fail. I’m not pretending that failure feels good. Everyone knows that the failure rate in startups — especially venture-funded ones — is super high, but it still sucks when you don’t reach your goals. I failed, but I also succeeded at many other things,” he wrote.

He’s especially proud of the way Gumroad has helped creators. The experience has also taught him patience. For instance, he is enjoying trying his hand oil painting, he says.

“I really enjoy spending a lot of time painting specifically because it gives me that perspective. My goal when I start to paint for three hours is just to paint, just to get better. There is no financial ROI [return on investment] on it, really. It is very time consuming, it is incredibly low scale, it’s basically the opposite of technology in many ways.”