Delivery food service Blue Apron to go public, raise $100 million
Meal delivery service and podcast advertising staple Blue Apron filed to go public on Thursday, marking the start of its journey to become a publicly traded company.
In doing so, the company officially revealed its finances for the first time. The subscription service pulled in nearly $800 million last year but lost around $55 million overall.
Despite the lack of profit, the company has been growing at a rapid clip overall; its revenue more than doubled in 2016 and grew fourfold the previous year. Even better, that rapid growth is outpacing its growth in losses.
The financials show other hopeful signs too. The company actually managed to turn a profit in the first quarter of last year, and, on the whole, the balance sheet has stayed relatively steady by the standards of money-burning tech startups.
At the same time, average order value and orders per customer haven’t grown much in the past two years—and actually declined slightly in recent months.
The company also reports a slight dip in customers during the final months of last year before growth rebounds again — perhaps thanks to a big ad push it launched around the same time.
Founded in 2012, Blue Apron tapped into the subscription delivery boom with weekly shipments of meal kits stocked with pre-apportioned ingredients.
It made a name for itself with heavy marketing spend, perhaps most memorably in the advertising breaks of major podcasts. Last year, the company spent $144 million on advertising — nearly half of which on “online media.”
It most recently undertook its first global TV ad campaign earlier this year as rumors swirled about an IPO.
Deep in the obligatory legalese of the filing, Blue Apron also notes an litany of potential threats on the horizon that cover everything from natural disasters to taxes.
One is the prospect that its employees might decide to unionize.
“If a significant number of our employees were to become unionized and collective bargaining agreement terms were to deviate significantly from our current compensation and benefits structure,” the document reads, “our business, financial condition and operating results could be materially adversely affected.”
Blue Apron’s food-related business model also comes with some extra challenges. The company must contend with fluctuating ingredient prices, heavy health regulation, and complex supply chains.
The possibility of a food-borne illness or contamination is also raised.
The company was most recently valued at $2 billion after a $135 million funding round in 2015.