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Allbirds IPO: Sustainability-focused shoemaker eyes Nasdaq debut, but profits remain elusive

The company has seen rising sales in recent years, but it has yet to turn a profit.

Allbirds IPO: Sustainability-focused shoemaker eyes Nasdaq debut, but profits remain elusive
[Source image: Liz Hafalia/The San Francisco Chronicle/ Getty Images]
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Trendy sneaker maker Allbirds has filed for an initial public offering, eyeing a Nasdaq debut amid swelling interest in sustainable goods.

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The shoe company, famed for creating eco-friendly wool footwear from plant-based threads, has become somewhat iconic among Silicon Valley tech yuppies. Its IPO documents, released Tuesday, indicate rising sales in recent years—but that was caveated by widening net losses driven by high operating expenses. In 2020, Allbirds grew its revenue to $219 million, from $194 million the year before, but that ultimately crunched down to a net loss of $26 million, compared to a loss of $15 million the previous year.

Under its risk factors, the company lists, “We have incurred significant net losses since inception, and anticipate that we will continue to incur losses for the foreseeable future.” It’s also a certified B-Corp, meaning it’s legally required to balance profit with its purpose of improving society. For Allbirds, part of that is curbing the carbon-heavy manufacturing of synthetics that are ubiquitous in footwear.

Losses aside, Allbirds appears to be seizing a moment of investor mania over environmentally and socially conscious brands. The company’s IPO prospectus—which mentions “sustainability” more than 200 times—follows recent public debuts from Oatly, the dairy-free milk alternative, and The Honest Company, Hollywood actress Jessica Alba’s organic products bazaar focused on ethical consumerism. Plant-based meat company Impossible Foods is also seeking a debut via a blank-check merger, Reuters reported this spring.

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Allbirds’s IPO, along with an upcoming direct listing from buzzy eyewear brand Warby Parker, could also serve as a measure of investor appetite for cached, but money-losing millennial darlings. Along with mattress seller Casper, which had its own disastrous IPO in 2020, the three companies have become poster children for retail industry disruption.

The shoemaker’s prospectus lists the size of its offering as $100 million, which will serve as a placeholder until terms are set. According to a Bloomberg report, the company could seek a valuation of $2 billion or more.

Whether Allbirds soars or sinks is yet to be seen. But in the meantime, it’s expanding: It revealed this month that it would be launching a new line of athletic clothing spun from the pulp of eucalyptus trees, in an apparent bid to take on Nike and Lululemon. It currently has 27 brick-and-mortar locations worldwide, including stores in Auckland, Berlin, and Beijing.