Please respect outstanding entrepreneurial achievements

By boris, June 29, 2017

Blue Apron went public today. It was not the easiest road for them as they had to cut the originally proposed price range of $15-17 to $10 and closed the first day just around that at $10.01. As one can imagine, the media commentary was not pretty, calling the IPO a disappointment, the stock stale out of the box, and lamenting that the stock forgot to pop.

What I missed in most of this commentary was the fact that Matt Salzberg and his team had created a company with over $800m in revenues and a $2b valuation in a short 5 (!) years. This is an incredible entrepreneurial achievement that very, very few founders ever get to. Zulily suffered from a similar negative narrative: when it got sold to QVC for $2.4b, some people called the exit disappointing given that the company was once valued at over $7b in the public markets.

You don’t have to love the product, you don’t have to like the business model, and you definitely don’t have to buy the stock – but I hope that you appreciate the incredible entrepreneurial achievement in your analysis of a company that just went public and perhaps mention it in a phrase or two.

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  • Jonathan Boutelle

    If you’re sitting in the bleachers, you are free to do as you like. Cheer, boo, whatever. The only thing the crowd likes to see more than spectacular success is spectacular failure. Best not to read too much into it.

  • Vimarsh Karbhari

    $800m in revenues in 5 years is an achievement. Exaggerations sell. It is an entrepreneurs blood, sweat and tears and it should be celebrated at the least regardless of the IPO outcome. Very few companies have the ability to go public.

  • michiels999

    Totally agree with you. It is so easy to criticize. Building a business is very hard, getting the first client is very hard. So anyone who gets to do an IPO is someone that has work very hard and that work should be admired.

  • edzschau

    Noteworthy post, Boris. Media and sit-on-the-sideliners are quick to judge in the moment and don’t appreciate entirety of Blue Apron’s journey, particularly in context of a very tough market where others have gone out of business or sold. Reminds me of time in late 2006 when Zuckerberg was criticized for turning down Yahoo’s offer for $1 billion.

  • Well said.

  • bwertz

    Thank you!

  • Mark

    With Amazon entering this space, along with the acquisition of Whole Foods, do you see Blue Apron as having a future? On what elements can it compete?

  • bwertz

    It is certainly going to be tough – in order to compete w/ Amazon, this is probably the best advice: https://twitter.com/LauraBehrensWu/status/887491015434805250

  • Mark

    With the coming developments in AI and automation, do you see this emotional element, something we consider the ‘human’ element, one of humanity’s main purposes going forward?

  • Mark

    I have thought that perhaps the quality of the recipe engine associated with the service could be competitive. Of course, then it simply comes to the design of this engine.

  • bwertz

    Probably yes – it is definitely the hardest to ever copy!

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