JUUL Labs is raising money for expansion, and has hired a new CEO who was previously a partner in a private equity firm that specialized in corporate turnarounds.
JUUL isn’t in trouble though. On the contrary, the San Francisco-based e-cigarette company is taking the convenience store vaping market by storm, increasing its sales more than 600 percent year over year, according to Business Insider. JUUL’s problem is not being able to manufacture pods quickly enough to satisfy the market.
The sleek pod vape owned 32 percent of the Nielson-tracked (c-store and gas station) market for the four weeks ending Nov. 4., making it the clear leader among mostly cigalike competition. It’s $50 starter kit price is unique among c-store vape products. JUUL is one of the few c-store vape products that’s also popular among open-system vapers. Unlike most of its Nielson competitors (except NJOY), JUUL has no connection to the tobacco industry.
JUUL named Kevin Burns CEO on Dec. 11. Burns most recently worked as chief executive of Chobani, the Greek yogurt manufacturer. Before that, he spent 12 years as a partner at TPG Capital, described as “one of the world’s largest private equity investment firms focused on leveraged buyouts, growth capital and leveraged recapitalization investments in distressed companies and turnaround situations.”
According to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) earlier this month, JUUL is seeking $150 million in new financing — and the company has already raised more than $111 million of the goal. JUUL declined to explain the fundraising in a CNBC story on the SEC filing.
JUUL Labs split from parent company Pax Labs earlier this year. Until recently, former Pax chief executive Tyler Goldman has been running both companies, but has now left both. Pax hasn’t announced a new leader yet. Pax co-founders James Monsees and Adam Bowen have also left Pax. Both are board members and executives at JUUL, according to CNBC.
JUUL has been the recent target of anti-vaping activists, like New York Sen. Chuck Schumer. Despite JUUL’s painfully adult advertising, its high price, and its lack of supposedly “child-centric” flavor options, the small pod vape has been relentlessly attacked, and accused of “marketing to youth.”