Ex-All White Tim Brown’s shoe company set for $2.4b US listing

Allbirds is set to follow Rocket Lab and become the second company founded by a Kiwi to lineup a multi-billion Nasdaq listing this year.

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The maker of environmentally-friendly footwear, made from New Zealand Merino wool and various recycled materials, was founded in 2006 by ex-All Whites captain Tim Brown andJoey Zwillinger – a renewables engineer who Brown met in San Francisco, where the company is now based.

It now sells more than 1 million pairs of shoes a year after becoming trendy with everyone from Silicon Valley execs to ex-President Barack Obama to Leonardo DiCaprio (the Hollywood A-lister who has also invested in the company).

The Times says Allbirds is now interviewing banks ahead of a possible IPO, while Techcrunch says its online sales success during the pandemic has attracted calls from the sudden army of blank-cheque or SPAC (special purpose acquisition companies) that are now driving many public listings.

The company has already raised more than US$200m. It’s most recent raise was in October last year – a Series E effort that hauled in US$100m at a US$1.7 billion ($2.4b) valuation.

Allbirds started with online-only sales, but now has 20 of its own stores around the US, Europe, Japan and China.

The Times says if it does list, Allbirds will join other consumer companies heading for IPOs on the back of strong online sales during Covid – including prescription glasses maker Warby Parker and the Jessica Alba-backed consumer goods startup the Honest Company.

Tim Brown has been asked for comment.

In September 2019, Allbirds ran into potential flak as e-tail giant Amazon released a house-brand woollen and synthetic shoe that paid homage to the Kiwi-American company’s product, but which at US$45 sold for half the price.

Brown told the Herald that Allbirds would not go legal. His company preferred to push its environmental credentials. It would highlight that it was not possible to produce a US$45 shoe in carbon-neutral, sustainable fashion.

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