Beyond Meat, a plant-based meat company founded by Ethan Brown ’89, has been making headlines and history after going public on May 2, 2019.
Beyond Meat’s market value skyrocketed within hours: the stock, initially priced at $25 per share, opened at $46 and now costs about $67.00. With its shares nearly tripling within the first day, Beyond Meat had one of the strongest first-day performances of all US IPOs in the last two decades.
The first plant-based food company to go public on a major exchange, Beyond Meat now has a market capitalization value of $3.9 billion. The IPO counts J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, and Merrill Lynch among its underwriters.
Going public will enable Beyond Meat to invest in new manufacturing facilities, research and development, and its supply chain. Ethan, who is also the CEO of the company, ultimately wants plant-based meat to be available in more countries and communities worldwide.
Ethan founded Beyond Meat in 2009 to address his growing concerns about the harmful impact of meat production on the environment, animals, and human health.
Ethan, who eats a vegan diet, grew up spending time on his family’s farms and developed an affinity for animals early. He later started his career in the hydrogen fuel cell sector and felt strongly about environmental sustainability. But Ethan could not shake the idea that he was also meant to work in service of animal welfare.
“It was something that gnawed at me. Even as I was climbing the corporate ladder within the clean tech space, it kept coming back to me,” said Ethan in an interview on NPR. “It was something that I felt I had to go do.”
By swapping out animals for plants in the protein production chain, Beyond Meat avoids the main problems associated with livestock farming: increased greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, inefficient land use, cancer and heart disease risk, and animal cruelty. Beyond Meat products, including plant-based burgers and sausages, give consumers a humane, environmentally-friendly alternative to meat that closely resembles and tastes like the real thing.
The company’s mission has resonated with business magnates and athletes alike. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, NBA champion John Salley, and former New York Mets captain David Wright were a few of the early investors.
Ethan has big ambitions not only for his company, but for the future of the food industry.
“Instead of growing low-value commodity feed for animals, I see a future of farmers growing higher value protein crops for more direct human consumption via plant-based meat,” said Ethan in Beyond Meat’s prospectus. “I believe there is a new dawn for American agriculture and this conversion is our awakening hour.”