Lost in all the Facebook earnings and Google divestiture this afternoon was how Blue Bottle Coffee raised $25.75MM in new money, bringing it’s total funding to $45.75MM (last round in October 2012), though no word on the new valuation. The new investors “range of high-profile Internet players and also Morgan Stanley Investment Management,” though only on behalf of certain mutual funds and other investment vehicles for which it acts as Investment Adviser, according to Re/code. This seems a little unusual to have an investment on behalf of mutual funds so we’ll try to get more information on it later. Previous investors in the Company included Google Ventures, Index Ventures and True Ventures, Instagram’s Kevin Systrom, Twitter and Medium co-founder Evan Williams, investor Chris Sacca and skateboarder Tony Hawk.
The artisan coffee provider currently has nine locations in CA and NY, and is expected to open more in those states this year. It also has an online business and currently 25% of sales are through the wholesaling of beans. Back in 2012, when CEO James Freeman spoke to the Wall Street Journal, he said that the company’s revenue has increased about 50% annually, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see a continued or higher annual growth rate since then.
Some people have speculated that this is a vanity investment. The thinking goes that since Blue Bottle is where tech people hang out, why not invest in it considering how successful tech has been in the last few years. But Tony Conrad of True Ventures has a much different perspective,
“We believe Blue Bottle Coffee is at the forefront of a ‘consumer movement’ or mega-trend in which consumers are moving to higher quality, artisanal micro-roasters of coffee, where quality, attention to detail, beauty and a distinctive experience are being sought over more mainstream alternatives.”
Who knows if high-end coffee, and its long lines, is here to stay, but Blue Bottle certainly has a lot of money for expansion, deepening its relationships with coffee growers, and opening the R&D facility they talk about in the Company blog. Good luck to the team there! I certainly won’t be mad about it.