December 01, 2017
Holden Page is a Crunchbase News editor and columnist.
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Morning Report: Blue Apron loses its CEO while the delivery company’s share price has plateaued well-below its initial debut. 

Valued at $2.2 billion prior to going public, Blue Apron, the meal delivery service, has since struggled to maintain its composure on the public markets. Opening at $10 per share—the result of a heavy discount from its initial pricing range—the company has seen steep declines. Over the past month, its stock price has hovered at around $3 per share, closing at $2.99 per share as of yesterday. It was also the same time that CEO and founder of Blue Apron, Matt Salzberg, stepped down from his post, according to TechCrunch.

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So how did such a high-flying unicorn get to this point? And why does it matter? For the answer to our latter question, let’s turn to some prior reporting from Crunchbase News while the company was still fresh:

This matters for unicorns that are less tech-heavy than their peers (Palantir? Vice? Zenefits? Mobike?) which may have to endure similarly heavy winds when they eventually seek liquidity for their investors.

If there are more Blue Aprons out there, waiting for a public-market repricing, it could be that vast tranches of late-stage capital were misallocated. Early investors in unicorns, provided that they aren’t diluted to homeopathic levels of financial impact, should be fine.

It’s this possible discrepancy in public and private valuation, coupled with meager growth and increased customer acquisition costs, that has lead to the meal delivery company’s steep decline. The company also had the unfortunate luck of going public right when Amazon, the ecommerce giant that is exceptionally good at shipping items, announced its acquisition of Whole Foods. Shortly following the news of its major grocer acquisition, Amazon also announced that it would begin delivering meals to its Amazon Fresh customers, further digging into Blue Apron’s hole.

So how can Blue Apron turn the ship around? For Brad Dickerson, the new CEO and former CFO of Blue Apron, looking towards Hello Fresh’s relatively stable debut may havve some answers.

The competing meal delivery company, trading on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, opened at €10.60. And despite some modest fluctuations, the company has held onto its $1.6 billion dollar value, according to MSN Money, in nearly a month on the public markets. This compares to Blue Apron’s current capitalization at around $611 million, according to Yahoo! Finance.

So what’s the difference?

As ReCode pointed out when the competing meal delivery company initially debuted, HelloFresh had “higher revenue and lower net losses” than Blue Apron. And it’s likely that Blue Apron will need to buoy itself in a similar fashion in order to return to its former unicorn glory.

From The Crunchbase Daily:

Saudis invest more in US startups

  • Over the past four years, Saudi Arabian investment funds have put over $5 billion into U.S. startups, with Uber, Lyft and Snap among the largest funding recipients. The amount of direct investment peaked in 2016, a Crunchbase News analysis finds, with the oil-rich nation participating in more big rounds this year through its massive stake in the SoftBank Vision Fund.

Farmers Business Network raises $110M

  • Farmers Business Network (FBN), an online platform for farmers to share information and negotiate prices for seeds and supplies, has raised $110 million in a Series D round led by T. Rowe Price and Temasek. The financing will go toward expanding the Silicon Valley-based company’s digital crop marketing and farm analytics services.

Pishevar accused of misconduct

  • Tech investor Shervin Pishevar is the latest high-profile VC to face allegations of sexual misconduct. Five women told Bloomberg that Pishevar, an early investor in Uber and other prominent startups, had made unwanted advances.