Blue Bottle Coffee raises $25.7M
A source told TechCrunch that Blue Bottle Coffee secured a $25.7 million investment in a round led by Morgan Stanley Investment Management. The round was also said to be participated in by Index Ventures, Google Ventures and True Ventures. The other investors of the tony coffee brewery also included founders and executives linked to various technology companies. These include Kevin Systrom of Instagram, Evan Williams of Twitter and Medium, Twitter investor Chris Sacca, Matt Mullenweg of Wordpress, Caterina Fake of Flickr and Hunch, Joanne Wilson and Lars Dalgaard, a partner at 16z, the report said.
The report said that Morgan Stanley Investment, which is also behind Twitter and Facebook investments, mainly looks for opportunities in public firms but it is allowed to deploy 5% of the capital to private firms.
Of all the investors, only Systrom has a background on coffee, so what gives? Tony Conrad, Founder of True Ventures, said that the appeal of Blue Bottle is in its entrepreneurial camaraderie. Talking about James Freeman, the founder of Blue Bottle, he told TechCrunch, "Tech investors in particular are good at identifying these kinds of people. [Freeman] sounds like a Matt Mullenweg to me, or an Evan Williams or a Bre Pettis. The reason that True Ventures got into it was that I was considering it on a personal level. I have enough technology investments. From a tactical point of view, boy it's diversified." Conrad has also backed Stoneyfield Farms yogurt where he saw multiple returns, the report said.
Blue Bottle Chairman Bryan Meehan said that the coffee business has found new friends in tech. He told TechCrunch, "There's definitely a new breed of entrepreneurs in coffee. Jack Dorsey [a Sightglass investor] hired his second employee, launched Square at Blue Bottle in Mint Plaza. Perhaps our tech investors recognize something in our brand and in James that they see in themselves?"