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Why Grove Collaborative CEO Stuart Landesberg is ‘totally jazzed’ about going public in a bear market

At a time when many companies are rethinking or scrapping their IPO plans, the sustainable retailer is making its trading debut with gusto.

Why Grove Collaborative CEO Stuart Landesberg is ‘totally jazzed’ about going public in a bear market
[Photo: Grove Collaborative]

Sustainable consumer products retailer Grove Collaborative went public today with the help of Virgin Group. The 10-year-old company, which listed through a SPAC transaction, is now trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “GROV.”

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Grove Collaborative has previously made waves by pledging to go plastic-free by 2025. Still, with its public listing, it’s finding another way to stand apart from its peers. That’s because the company choosing to go public now is more or less bucking the trend. After 2021 saw record-high levels of IPO activity, the first quarter of 2022 saw the number of IPOs fall 37% year-over-year globally, according to data from Ernst & Young. In the Americas, the numbers are even bleaker—during Q1 2022, there were 37 IPOs (a decrease of 72% year-over-year), totaling $2.4 billion in proceeds (a decline of 95%).

This is, in large part, due to rising interest rates, higher costs, and the general economic slowdown. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine also prompted some companies to rethink their IPO plans. As such, going public now, as the stock market gets shellacked by investors scrambling to find a safe haven from both the drawdown and inflation, may seem precarious. The S&P 500 is down more than 10% over the past month, and down more than 23% since the beginning of the year.

But Stuart Landesberg, the cofounder and CEO of Grove Collaborative, says that he and the company aren’t worried about the short-term happenings on the market, and instead, have a long-term vision with the potential to entice all sorts of investors.

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“For me, it’s not about the stock ticker,” he tells Fast Company. “I can’t control the market next week or over the next six months. But I don’t care. What I care about is doing this today, and getting closer to fulfilling our mission.”

That mission includes reducing Americans’ addiction to plastics—and single-use plastics, specifically. Tackling the problems with plastics amounts to a massive market opportunity, Landesberg says, and by going public, it not only raises funding for Grove Collaborative to expand its retail reach, but also raises the company’s profile with shoppers and investors.

“We have an insane plastic addiction,” Landesberg says, adding that, over the years, plastics have “created a lot of value for investors.” But, he continues, “it’s a trillion-dollar market opportunity for solving it—with a multi-year view, we’re leading in a market that’s absolutely inevitable 20 years from now.” That, he says, is “what’s always made this company attractive to investors.”

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Landesberg adds that with a long-term mission for sustainable change in mind, along with the excitement of taking Grove Collaborative public, he’s not going to let a bear market and the prospect of a recession get him down. “I’m totally jazzed about [going public], regardless of market conditions,” he says.

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