Should We Cover Beyond Meat’s IPO?

Morning Markets: The limits of what venture-backed means, this publication, and what counts as tech.

Is faux-meat a platform? Can a company whose product you find at the supermarket count as a tech company? If any venture-backed company goes public domestically, are we required to care?

No, maybe, and yes, I think are the correct answers there.

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Debate broke out this morning among the Crunchbase News team about whether or not we should cover the latest news from the Beyond Meat IPO. In some ways it’s precisely the sort of company that we care about: Beyond Meat is private, has raised $122 million from a host of capital sources, operated at deficits to scale, and is now going public.

On the other hand, its product line is a series of food offerings. That’s hardly our usual tech-driven fare.

Regular readers will recall that we have written about the Impossible Burger and that we covered the alt-protein space a time or two. All the same, Beyond Meat feels afield from what this publication cares about. The struggle at hand is that we’ve traditionally focused on technology companies because we know them the best. And, even though the Crunchbase News team is the largest it has ever been (and still growing!), we’re small enough that we have to be selective; we could cover venture rounds around the clock and not get through half the pitches and notes that flow through our inboxes.

So what should we cover, and what falls outside our orbit? According to ourselves, we cover quickly-growing private companies, often powered by venture capital and other similar sources. Beyond Meat is precisely that, and thus it has to be part of our orbit.

To make that even plainer, here are some metrics about Beyond Meat:

  • Born in California in 2009
  • Raised $122 million through a $50 million Series H
  • Grew revenue from $16.2 million in 2016 to $32.6 million in 2017, to $87.9 million in 2018
  • A max valuation in its IPO of over $1 billion
  • Operated at negative gross margins until 2018

Few things are more Crunchbase News-worthy than operating with negative gross profit for a multi-year-period. That’s our jam. Bring that on.

Beyond Meat is part of our remit. With one qualification. Namely that the team here will skew more closely to tech-heavy companies than others, everything else held equal. We touch on biotech from time to time, but we’ll continue to spend most of our time covering companies that comfortably fit under the “tech” umbrella. Those companies sit in the center of our target.

One final point. While we are happy to include Beyond Meat in our coverage, we cannot help but point out that it’s probably not a platform company. Even if its S-1 wants you to believe otherwise:

And with that, happy Monday. No other IPOs this week. Uber should get out next week.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias.

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