Vegan meat brand Impossible Foods raised $300 million in a round of funding backed by celebrity investors including Jay-Z, Ruby Rose, will.i.am, and Serena Williams.
The California-based brand announced on Monday its multi-million dollar funding round led by Temasek Holdings and Horizons Ventures, which will be used to help the brand scale up as it faces higher demand. Including the most recent funding round, the Bill Gates-backed company has raised more than $750 million.
The full list of celebrity investors includes Serena Williams, Jay Brown, Kirk Cousins, Jay-Z, “The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, “Harold & Kumar” star Kal Penn, Katy Perry, Questlove, Ruby Rose, “Everybody Loves Raymond” producer Phil Rosenthal, Jaden Smith, will.i.am, and Grammy award-winning record producer Zedd.
Hints of celebrity interest in the plant-based meat brand have been floating around for the past couple of years: Perry wore a burger costume to this year’s Met Gala; Penn appeared in White Castle Impossible Slider ads last September; Rose hosted an Impossible Burger summer barbecue; Smith teamed up with the company and Umami Burger to launch three meat-free burgers in October 2017.
Vegan Meat Goes Mainstream
“We have cracked the molecular code for meat and built an industry-leading intellectual property portfolio and brand,” said David Lee, Chief Financial Officer for Impossible Foods, in a statement.
Impossible Foods has grown rapidly since it first launched its signature burger in David Chang’s NYC-based restaurant Momofuku Nishi in 2016. Last week, Impossible Foods announced that Burger King will add the Impossible Whopper to the menu of its more than 7,000 locations by the end of the year. The meatless Impossible Whopper performed “exceedingly well” in St. Louis test locations at the beginning of April.
With recently updated recipe made from soy protein, the Impossible Burger is renowned for its similarity to a traditional beef patty. The uncooked burger looks nearly identical to raw ground meat and when cooked, it sizzles and browns, leaving a juicy pink interior, depending on how well-done it is. It’s realistic enough to fool a Missouri meat lobbyist.
The meat-free burger is also available at 570 Red Robin locations, White Castle restaurants, independent restaurants and mini-chains like Bareburger, and as beefy crumbles at Mexican-inspired chain QDOBA. It’s also available at Disney parks, college campuses, stadiums, and more. Impossible Foods plans to launch its vegan meat in unnamed retail locations later this year.
Will Impossible Foods Go Public?
The news of Impossible Foods latest funding round closely follows Beyond Meat’s success as the first vegan meat brand to go public. The El Segundo, California-based company kicked off its IPO earlier this month, experiencing a 163 percent jump in value on its first day — the biggest IPO in nearly two decades. But Lee says Impossible Foods isn’t ready to go public just yet.
“We believe in self-reliance. Being ready to go public is a priority for the company because we need to be operating at the highest level of rigor. But we are not in a rush, nor are we announcing an IPO filing,” he told Reuters.
Impossible Foods will add a third shift to its Oakland production facility in order to help keep up with demand. Additional expansion announcements will be made later this year.