The company behind a veggie burger that sizzles, smells, and tastes like real meat says it will never sell to an outside buyer.
It might sound like hyperbole, but Impossible Foods has some experience turning down tempting offers.
In 2015, before the startup’s flagship product — a “bloody” burger made from wheat and potato protein, coconut oil, and a “secret sauce” molecule derived from plants — was available in restaurants, Google offered to buy Impossible Foods for between $US200 million and $US300 million.
While Impossible Foods has never confirmed the asking price, founder and CEO Pat Brown commented on the bid on stage at Vox Media’s Code Conference last summer.
In an interview with Business Insider, Brown doubled down on his convictions.
“People at our company and our investors know that we have no intention of ever being acquired by anyone,” Brown says. “We made that clear to our investors from day zero.”
Because Impossible Foods is mission-based, Brown says he could never hand it off to a buyer.
“The company is defined by a mission that — no matter how much someone who wants to acquire the company may say they believe in it — no one believes in it with the commitment that we do, and we’re not going to put it at risk,” Brown says.
Impossible Foods wants to find a better way to satisfy people who enjoy meat. The world’s population could reach nine billion people by 2050, and there aren’t enough resources to support sustainable animal agriculture at that scale. As it stands, animal agriculture takes up about a third of the world’s land, and accounts for about 9% of greenhouse gas emissions.
Brown, a molecular biologist, left his teaching job at Stanford University in 2009 to make a veggie burger that meat-lovers will actually want to eat. In March, the company broke ground on its first large-scale production facility to help bring its creation to the masses.
Brown worries that if a buyer “lost interest in our mission,” the company would disappear.
“It’s nothing to do with Google. We are absolutely not looking to be acquired,” he added.