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估值不断回落,这家卖鞋的电商还能上市吗?

估值不断回落,这家卖鞋的电商还能上市吗?

Jordyn Holman, Matt Townsend, 彭博社 2021年02月23日
这家在硅谷备受追捧的鞋品制作商如今面临着另一个令人生畏的挑战。

图片来源:David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Allbirds公司(Allbirds Inc.)已经在初创企业界获得了出乎意料的成功,它筹集了2.5亿美元,并将环保羊毛休闲鞋变成了一个正统的产品门类。然而,这家在硅谷备受追捧的鞋品制作商如今却面临着另一个令人生畏的挑战:如何在可能进行的IPO之前打动投资者。

然而此前,公司在去年的独角兽估值轮中受挫。2020年9月,Allbirds在E轮融资中从 Franklin Templeton和T. Rowe Price等大型投资机构手中筹集了1亿美元。研究公司Pitchbook称,Allbirds的估值从去年1月的17.3亿美元略微回落至17亿美元。另一家数据提供商CB Insights称,根据其参考的国家报备文件,Allbirds估值将暴跌至11.4亿美元。Allbirds拒绝透露有关可能IPO、估值或业绩的任何详情。

Allbirds亦加入了“直营模式(DTC)品牌”潮流,这些品牌既是制造商又是零售商,避免了批发销售的低利润率。投资者十分钟爱这种商业模式以及该行业所创造的现金流,促使大量公司如雨后春笋般涌出,产品涵盖内衣、牙刷等各类物品。

然而如今,距离直营热出现已经过去了五年多,人们开始质疑这些品牌的后续发展潜力。靠烧钱做营销而获得的增长往往缺乏可持续性。因为在成功之后,效仿者会接连涌现。这里有一个引发质疑的知名案例:快速增长的床垫品牌Casper Sleep一年前上市了,但其股价长期以来毫无起色,依然低于其IPO价格。

为了证明自身的业务可以变得更大、更多元化,脱胎于其自有电商的Allbirds品牌在今年将把实体店的数量增至36家,增幅达50%,包括其位于明尼阿波利斯的首个门店。公司还推出了价格较低的产品,并通过与鞋品巨头阿迪达斯集团(Adidas AG)联合制作一款几乎没有碳印记的鞋品,来拓展其环保善举。

Allbirds的联合创始人及首席执行官乔伊•茨威林格说:“这就是我们的目标——我们不会去做一家向那些关心环境的富人销售高档产品的小众企业。我们要向大众普及可持续发展理念。”

茨威林格与联合创始人蒂姆•布朗(亦担任公司联席首席执行官)一开始就为Allbirds描绘了宏伟的蓝图。2016年,也就是第一款鞋品面世并在公司所在地旧金山俘获了一批忠实科技工作者粉丝的那一年,这两位在公司内部公布了品牌十年后的规划。Maveron联合创始人、Allbirds董事丹•拉维坦说:“这是一个异常宏伟的蓝图。就像是,‘哇,只要他们能够完成一半,就会变得非常成功。’”

Allbirds将沿袭其他直营模式品牌走过的道路,即通过从数字营销和电商向实体和传统广告转移,并借此来扩大受众。电视节目统计与分析公司iSpot.tv称,就在上个月,Allbirds开始首次投入电视广告,并专注于那些回归的热门老剧,例如《老友记》(Friends)以及《男人两个半》(Two and a Half Men)。今年,在美国数字、电视和平面媒体的营销花费方面,Allbirds到目前为止在广告情报平台MediaRadar跟踪的所有175个直营模式服饰和鞋品品牌中排名第一。

茨威林格说:“人们甚至都不知道这个品牌。我们不得不循序渐进、有条不紊地打造我们的品牌。”

在拉维坦看来,Allbirds还是很有希望的。他与星巴克的创始人霍华德•舒尔茨于1998年创建了Maveron。该公司已经投资了多个消费领域的优胜企业,包括EBay和Pinkberry,而且他看到Allbirds即将突破其核心受众群。去年5月,公司开始进军运动跑鞋领域,这是运动鞋市场中最大的门类之一。零售价格125美元的Tree Dasher拥有桉树木浆制作的网眼鞋面以及用甘蔗制作的鞋帮,就销量而言,这款鞋已经成为其最热门的产品。其服饰产品如今横跨船袜和羽绒夹克,展现了其意欲成为全身性服饰品牌的雄心壮志。同时,公司已经将足迹拓展至美国海外,产品遍布全球30个国家,而且在中国和日本等大型市场亦开设了门店。

拉维坦说:“如果问我是否会认为这家公司有成为超大型持久消费业务的基本面?是的,毫无疑问。这个过程是否会比较难?没错。”拉维坦的公司第一次投资Allbirds是在2016年9月,也就是其首款鞋品面世6个月之后。

Allbirds的首个突破是制作合脚的鞋品,公司到位的宣传工作亦是功不可没。当其Wool Runner在差不多五年前让世人认识到这个品牌时,《时代》杂志(Time)写了一篇大加赞赏的文章,名为《全球最舒适的鞋品由超软羊毛制作》。随后,《纽约时报》(New York Times)还称,这款鞋品将成为硅谷极简主义服饰的中流砥柱。2018年,《纽约客》杂志(New Yorker)刊登了两篇有关该公司的文章,包括详细介绍其环保目标的专题报道。

正是最后的这个故事让Allbirds成为了Z世代心目中可以与耐克(Nike)相媲美的品牌,而后者作为一家上市公司在历经40年的发展后达到了近400亿美元的年销售额。Allbirds是一家经认证的共益企业,意味着其董事会有法律义务去平衡其利润和目标,并公开发布有关公司如何改善社会或环境的影响力报告。茨威林格说,如果公司开展首次公开募股,那么这个头衔对其公司推介来说将至关重要。有鉴于资金管理者正在寻找那些不断增长的可持续发展投资领域,这一点能够让Allbirds股票成为备受追捧的对象。

在消费者看来,公司的广告发出了一个明确的信号:一切都是为了应对气候变化。其中一个广告的标语直接写着:“reduce your carbon footprint”(减少你的碳印记)。另一个广告上写着“when nature wins, we all win”(大自然好了,我们都会好)。这一点与耐克知名的标语“Just Do It”(只管去做)可谓是大相径庭。

将鞋品与服饰如此直接地与拯救地球挂钩是一个大胆的举措。蒙特利尔银行资本市场(BMO Capital Markets)的零售分析师西米恩•西格尔称,历史证明,绝大多数消费者在时尚领域并不会受环保因素的左右。

西格尔说:“最终,人们会购买让他们感到舒适和特别的鞋品。”人们倾向于认为自己在气候变化等问题方面是“消费维权积极分子”,但通常都只是说说而已。

然而,营销也会带来奇迹。市场研究公司NPD 集团(NPD Group)的分析师马特•鲍威尔对20多岁和30多岁人士的调查发现,也有一些人希望购买具有可持续性的产品。但这里存在一个棘手的问题:“有这种想法的人并不多。”(财富中文网)

译者:冯丰

审校:夏林

Allbirds公司(Allbirds Inc.)已经在初创企业界获得了出乎意料的成功,它筹集了2.5亿美元,并将环保羊毛休闲鞋变成了一个正统的产品门类。然而,这家在硅谷备受追捧的鞋品制作商如今却面临着另一个令人生畏的挑战:如何在可能进行的IPO之前打动投资者。

然而此前,公司在去年的独角兽估值轮中受挫。2020年9月,Allbirds在E轮融资中从 Franklin Templeton和T. Rowe Price等大型投资机构手中筹集了1亿美元。研究公司Pitchbook称,Allbirds的估值从去年1月的17.3亿美元略微回落至17亿美元。另一家数据提供商CB Insights称,根据其参考的国家报备文件,Allbirds估值将暴跌至11.4亿美元。Allbirds拒绝透露有关可能IPO、估值或业绩的任何详情。

Allbirds亦加入了“直营模式(DTC)品牌”潮流,这些品牌既是制造商又是零售商,避免了批发销售的低利润率。投资者十分钟爱这种商业模式以及该行业所创造的现金流,促使大量公司如雨后春笋般涌出,产品涵盖内衣、牙刷等各类物品。

然而如今,距离直营热出现已经过去了五年多,人们开始质疑这些品牌的后续发展潜力。靠烧钱做营销而获得的增长往往缺乏可持续性。因为在成功之后,效仿者会接连涌现。这里有一个引发质疑的知名案例:快速增长的床垫品牌Casper Sleep一年前上市了,但其股价长期以来毫无起色,依然低于其IPO价格。

为了证明自身的业务可以变得更大、更多元化,脱胎于其自有电商的Allbirds品牌在今年将把实体店的数量增至36家,增幅达50%,包括其位于明尼阿波利斯的首个门店。公司还推出了价格较低的产品,并通过与鞋品巨头阿迪达斯集团(Adidas AG)联合制作一款几乎没有碳印记的鞋品,来拓展其环保善举。

Allbirds的联合创始人及首席执行官乔伊•茨威林格说:“这就是我们的目标——我们不会去做一家向那些关心环境的富人销售高档产品的小众企业。我们要向大众普及可持续发展理念。”

茨威林格与联合创始人蒂姆•布朗(亦担任公司联席首席执行官)一开始就为Allbirds描绘了宏伟的蓝图。2016年,也就是第一款鞋品面世并在公司所在地旧金山俘获了一批忠实科技工作者粉丝的那一年,这两位在公司内部公布了品牌十年后的规划。Maveron联合创始人、Allbirds董事丹•拉维坦说:“这是一个异常宏伟的蓝图。就像是,‘哇,只要他们能够完成一半,就会变得非常成功。’”

Allbirds将沿袭其他直营模式品牌走过的道路,即通过从数字营销和电商向实体和传统广告转移,并借此来扩大受众。电视节目统计与分析公司iSpot.tv称,就在上个月,Allbirds开始首次投入电视广告,并专注于那些回归的热门老剧,例如《老友记》(Friends)以及《男人两个半》(Two and a Half Men)。今年,在美国数字、电视和平面媒体的营销花费方面,Allbirds到目前为止在广告情报平台MediaRadar跟踪的所有175个直营模式服饰和鞋品品牌中排名第一。

茨威林格说:“人们甚至都不知道这个品牌。我们不得不循序渐进、有条不紊地打造我们的品牌。”

在拉维坦看来,Allbirds还是很有希望的。他与星巴克的创始人霍华德•舒尔茨于1998年创建了Maveron。该公司已经投资了多个消费领域的优胜企业,包括EBay和Pinkberry,而且他看到Allbirds即将突破其核心受众群。去年5月,公司开始进军运动跑鞋领域,这是运动鞋市场中最大的门类之一。零售价格125美元的Tree Dasher拥有桉树木浆制作的网眼鞋面以及用甘蔗制作的鞋帮,就销量而言,这款鞋已经成为其最热门的产品。其服饰产品如今横跨船袜和羽绒夹克,展现了其意欲成为全身性服饰品牌的雄心壮志。同时,公司已经将足迹拓展至美国海外,产品遍布全球30个国家,而且在中国和日本等大型市场亦开设了门店。

拉维坦说:“如果问我是否会认为这家公司有成为超大型持久消费业务的基本面?是的,毫无疑问。这个过程是否会比较难?没错。”拉维坦的公司第一次投资Allbirds是在2016年9月,也就是其首款鞋品面世6个月之后。

Allbirds的首个突破是制作合脚的鞋品,公司到位的宣传工作亦是功不可没。当其Wool Runner在差不多五年前让世人认识到这个品牌时,《时代》杂志(Time)写了一篇大加赞赏的文章,名为《全球最舒适的鞋品由超软羊毛制作》。随后,《纽约时报》(New York Times)还称,这款鞋品将成为硅谷极简主义服饰的中流砥柱。2018年,《纽约客》杂志(New Yorker)刊登了两篇有关该公司的文章,包括详细介绍其环保目标的专题报道。

正是最后的这个故事让Allbirds成为了Z世代心目中可以与耐克(Nike)相媲美的品牌,而后者作为一家上市公司在历经40年的发展后达到了近400亿美元的年销售额。Allbirds是一家经认证的共益企业,意味着其董事会有法律义务去平衡其利润和目标,并公开发布有关公司如何改善社会或环境的影响力报告。茨威林格说,如果公司开展首次公开募股,那么这个头衔对其公司推介来说将至关重要。有鉴于资金管理者正在寻找那些不断增长的可持续发展投资领域,这一点能够让Allbirds股票成为备受追捧的对象。

在消费者看来,公司的广告发出了一个明确的信号:一切都是为了应对气候变化。其中一个广告的标语直接写着:“reduce your carbon footprint”(减少你的碳印记)。另一个广告上写着“when nature wins, we all win”(大自然好了,我们都会好)。这一点与耐克知名的标语“Just Do It”(只管去做)可谓是大相径庭。

将鞋品与服饰如此直接地与拯救地球挂钩是一个大胆的举措。蒙特利尔银行资本市场(BMO Capital Markets)的零售分析师西米恩•西格尔称,历史证明,绝大多数消费者在时尚领域并不会受环保因素的左右。

西格尔说:“最终,人们会购买让他们感到舒适和特别的鞋品。”人们倾向于认为自己在气候变化等问题方面是“消费维权积极分子”,但通常都只是说说而已。

然而,营销也会带来奇迹。市场研究公司NPD 集团(NPD Group)的分析师马特•鲍威尔对20多岁和30多岁人士的调查发现,也有一些人希望购买具有可持续性的产品。但这里存在一个棘手的问题:“有这种想法的人并不多。”(财富中文网)

译者:冯丰

审校:夏林

Allbirds Inc. has already beaten the odds in the startup world by raising a quarter of a billion dollars and turning earth-friendly wool sneakers into a legit product category. But the company behind Silicon Valley’s favorite footwear now faces another daunting challenge: impressing investors ahead of a potential initial public offering.

That’s coming after its unicorn valuation took a hit last year. In September, Allbirds raised $100 million in a Series E round from large investment firms like Franklin Templeton and T. Rowe Price. According to researcher Pitchbook, the company’s valuation nudged down to an estimated $1.7 billion from $1.73 billion in January 2020. CB Insights, another data provider, shows the value plummeted to $1.14 billion, according to state filings it sourced. The company declined to provide any details on a possible IPO, valuation or performance.

Allbirds is part of the boom in direct-to-consumer brands that act as maker and retailer, avoiding the low margins of selling wholesale. Investors fell in love with the business model and threipw cash at the sector, ushering in a flood of companies selling everything from underwear to toothbrushes.

But now, more than half a decade after that initial enthusiasm, there are questions about how big these brands can get. Growth is often driven by massive spending on marketing that isn’t sustainable. And after success, copycats quickly emerge. In one high-profile example that’s raised doubts, Casper Sleep Inc., a fast-growing mattress brand, went public a year ago and has largely struggled with its stock still below the IPO price.

To prove that it can get bigger and broader, Allbirds—a brand built through its own e-commerce—will boost the physical stores it operates by 50% this year to three dozen, including its first location in Minneapolis, co-founder Joey Zwillinger said in a recent interview. The company is also coming out with items at lower prices and trying to expand its green bonafides by partnering with footwear giant Adidas AG on a sneaker that promises to have almost no carbon footprint.

“That’s the goal here—not to be a niche player selling premium products to rich people who care about the environment,” Zwillinger said. “We have sustainability for the masses.”

Zwillinger and co-founder Tim Brown, who share the chief executive officer role, had grand plans for Allbirds early on. In 2016, the year the first shoe debuted and gained a following among tech workers in the company’s hometown of San Francisco, they unveiled internally what the brand would look like a decade later. “It was very, very ambitious,” said board member Dan Levitan, co-founder of Maveron, an early investor. “I was like, ‘wow, if they accomplish half of this, they would have been very successful.’”

Allbirds is following the playbook of other DTC brands that have broadened their audience by moving from digital marketing and e-commerce into brick-and-mortar and traditional advertising. Just last month, Allbirds started spending on television ads for the first time with a focus on reruns of sitcoms with wide appeal such as Friends and Two and a Half Men, according to iSpot.tv, a TV measurement and analytics firm. The company has so far this year spent the most on marketing in the U.S. across digital, TV and print among the 175 DTC apparel and footwear brands tracked by MediaRadar, an advertising intelligence platform.

“People don’t even know about us yet,” Zwillinger said. “We have to continue to methodically build our brand, brick by brick.”

Therein lies the promise of Allbirds for Levitan, who started Maveron in 1998 with Starbucks founder Howard Schultz. The firm has backed several winners in the consumer space, including EBay and Pinkberry, and he sees Allbirds on the cusp of breaking out beyond its core audience. In May, the company pushed into running, one of the largest categories of the athletic shoe market. The Tree Dasher, which retails for $125 and has a mesh upper made from eucalyptus wood pulp and a sole crafted with sugarcane, was its biggest product launch to date in terms of sales. Its apparel line now spans no-show socks to puffer jackets, displaying its ambitions to become a full-body brand. And it already has expanded outside the U.S., selling in more than 30 countries and opening stores in large markets like China and Japan.

“Do I think this company has the fundamentals to be a super large, enduring consumer business?” said Levitan, whose firm first invested in Allbirds in September 2016, just six months after its first shoe hit the market. “Yes, absolutely. Is it going to be hard? Yes.”

The company’s first breakthrough was making footwear deemed easy on the feet. Having a good publicist helped, too. When its Wool Runner launched the brand almost five years ago, Time magazine wrote a glowing piece titled “The World’s Most Comfortable Shoes Are Made of Super-Soft Wool.” Later, the New York Times mused about the footwear becoming a mainstay in Silicon Valley’s minimalist uniform. In 2018, the New Yorker dedicated two stories to the company, including a profile in the magazine that focused on its green ambitions.

It’s that last storyline that will decide whether Allbirds becomes anything close to Gen Z’s version of Nike, which is approaching $40 billion in annual sales after more than four decades as a public compnany. Allbirds is a certified B Corp., meaning its board is legally bound to balance profit and purpose and publicly share an impact report on how it’s improving society or the environment. If the company has an IPO, that designation will be central to its pitch, Zwillinger says. That could make it an attractive stock for money managers on the hunt for companies in the growing sustainable investing sector.

For consumers, the company’s advertising is blaring the message that it’s all about fighting climate change. One ad’s kicker is simply “reduce your carbon footprint.” Another spot proclaims “when nature wins, we all win.” That’s a far cry from the “Just Do It” tagline made famous by Nike.

Weaving shoes and apparel so directly to saving the earth is a bold move. History shows that the overwhelming majority of consumers aren’t swayed by environmental concerns when it comes to fashion, according to Simeon Siegel, a retail analyst at BMO Capital Markets.

“At the end of the day, people buy the footwear that makes them comfortable and makes them feel special,” Siegel said. People like to believe they are “consumer activists” on issues like climate change, but they often aren’t, he said.

However, marketing can do wonders. And surveys of 20- and 30-somethings show that some want to buy products that are made sustainably, according to Matt Powell, an analyst for market researcher NPD Group. But there’s a catch.

“It’s a smaller audience.”

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