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Technology

An IPO was Blue Apron's destiny: CEO Matt Salzberg

Matt Salzberg, founder and CEO of Blue Apron, saw his company going public from its inception, he told CNBC on Thursday.

Blue Apron became the first U.S. small meal-kit business to go public when it debuted Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “APRN.” The company priced its initial public offering of 30 million shares at $10 apiece, down from the original expectation of $15-$17 per share. The company lowered its projected IPO range Wednesday amid concerns about the impact from Amazon’s recent deal to acquire Whole Foods.

Salzberg turned his attention to the long term, rather than being nervous about the trading debut.

“We’re focused on the long term, and the stock price today whether it’s up, down, left or right is really just the beginning of this new chapter in our company’s life, and were excited about it,” Salzberg said in an interview with “Squawk on the Street.”

At this point Salzberg is still focused on growth and pouring investments into technology, automation, new products and marketing. The company has raised $300 million which can fully fund those plans, according to Salzberg. He especially wants to focus on quality, which he said is the most important aspect of the business.

“Quality is so important because we run this vertically integrated supply chain, and managing food manufacturing centers and distribution networks are [some] of the things that allow higher-quality food at better prices,” said Salzberg.

Blue Apron has invested heavily in its supply chain and direct farming relationships. It works with individual farms that grow ingredients just for the company, which enhances the quality and freshness of the products, and in turn pleases the customers.

The company has grown 10 times its size in just the past two years, largely due to demand and engagement from its loyal customers, who Salzberg said pay between $900-$1,000 on average over a three-year period. He added that customers frequently take to social media to post pictures of their Blue Apron meals.

When asked about competition, Salzberg said that he doesn’t see Amazon as a competitor, but rather an ally, that will help to bring more traditional grocery shoppers to the online scene.

However, he made clear how Blue Apron differs from other food delivery services.

“[The company] is more similar to a product producer where we produce original products and we manufacture those products than we are like a distributor of other people’s products like a grocery store,” said Salzberg. “We have to be great at designing great recipe experiences in a low-cost way and having to differentiate ingredients you can’t have anywhere else.”

The company is already developing new products, to both attract new customers and keep current customers interested. For example, it now supplies $10-per-bottle wines that it pairs with certain meals.

Blue Apron is the third New York-based technology company to go public this year, NYSE Group President Thomas Farley told CNBC on Thursday. He hopes even more companies, especially tech firms, will be enticed to go public in the future.

Source: Tech CNBC
An IPO was Blue Apron's destiny: CEO Matt Salzberg

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