After losing about 98 percent of its market value in six years, meal kit company Blue Apron (APRN) has found a buyer. Marc Lore, the cofounder of e-commerce site Jet.com and former CEO of Walmart.com (a different role from the CEO of Walmart), has agreed to acquire Blue Apron for $13 per share through his meal delivery startup, Wonder Group, Blue Apron announced today (Sept. 13).
At the agreed purchase price, Blue Apron is valued at $103 million, more than double its market value yesterday, but down 95 percent from its $2 billion valuation when it went public in 2017. News of the acquisition sent Blue Apron shares to soar more than 130 percent today.
Lore’s Wonder Group aims to disrupt the food delivery industry by delivering fine-dining-quality meals from restaurants directly to customers’ homes. The merger with Blue Apron will create a “mealtime super app,” Lore said in a statement, “serving a broad range of occasions that feature cuisines from some of the world’s best chefs and restaurants while leveraging our culinary engineering and vertically-integrated model.”
Under the agreement, the Blue Apron brand will continue to be used following the merger. “The Blue Apron brand and products that our customers know and love will stay the same, with more opportunity for product expansion in the future,” Blue Apron CEO Linda Findley said in a statement.
Lore made his fortune from online baby products retailer Diapers.com, which he cofounded and sold to Amazon in 2010. He later cofounded Jet.com, which was sold to Walmart for $3.3 billion in 2016, the largest e-commerce acquisition ever at the time. After the acquisition, Lore served as president and CEO of Walmart U.S. e-commerce until stepping down in 2021 to pursue his next project. However, both Diapers.com and Jet.com were eventually shut down following their merger with Amazon and Walmart.
Key leaders at Blue Apron
Blue Apron was founded in New York in 2012 by Matt Salzberg, Ilia Papas and Matt Wadiak. Salzberg initially served as the company’s CEO, Papas chief technology officer, and Wadiak chief operating officer, but all three eventually departed. Salzberg and Wadiak stepped down in 2017, the same year Blue Apron went public, and Papas left in 2019. Both Wadiak and Papas went on to start their own companies, while Salzberg remained as Blue Apron’s board chairman.
Blue Apron had three CEOs in its first three years as a public company. Salzberg was succeeded by then-CFO Brad Dickerson, a former executive at Under Armour. And in April 2019, Dickerson stepped down and was replaced by Linda Findley, formerly the chief operating officer of Etsy.
During the lockdown early in the Covid pandemic, Blue Apron’s stock price saw a wild surge driven by hype around meal-delivery companies but didn’t last. The company hit a series of operational setbacks, including leadership shakeups, massive layoffs and competition from food delivery companies large and small.
In June, Blue Apron sold its fulfillment centers to competitor FreshRealm in exchange for a $50 million cash infusion. That partnership will continue following the merger, Wonder Group said.
Blue Apron is expected to report third-quarter earnings on November 9.