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Allbirds Said to Seek Banker for IPO

Weeks after Allbirds began looking for an expert in corporate securities and M&A, the popular footwear brand reportedly valued at $1 billion is apparently gearing up to go public.

Word surfaced on Wednesday that the B Corp known for its comfortable wool sneakers and tech bro following will be interviewing banks to steer an IPO.

The current IPO market is red hot. So far the year has seen the IPO of in January, and then Dr. Martens a month later when shares began floating on the London Stock Exchange. Resale platform ThredUp followed in March. On the horizon is TuSimple, a developer of autonomous technology designed for semi trucks, which filed to go public last month. And then there are a number of SPACs that have started popping up, hoping to go public to raise funds that can be used to buy targeted firms.

Founded by New Zealand soccer star Tim Brown and engineer and renewables expert Joey Zwillinger, Allbirds launched its first product, a men’s sneaker priced at $95, in 2016. The San Francisco startup has since expanded into women’s footwear, as well as dual-gender apparel, underwear, and socks.

Allbirds is believed to have raised a total of more than $200 million, including a later stage venture capital round of $100 million in September last year, according to PitchBook. The company raised $119,000 in crowdfunding back in February 2014, followed by a $2.7 million seed round in March 2016. PitchBook said Allbirds generated revenue through the two rounds, and has been profitable since September 2016.

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The brand’s footwear is less about fancy status symbols and more about comfort and sustainability. Even its packaging relies on 90 percent post-consumer recycled cardboard, which serves as both the shoebox and the mailer, according to the company’s website. A pair of laces is made from one recycled plastic bottle, while castor bean oil is a component used in the insoles. Other features include its use of superfine merino wool, soon to be regenerative, for the top of the sneaker, which provides “breathable, temperature-regulating and moisture-wicking” qualities. It also requires 60 percent less energy than materials used in the manufacture of synthetic footwear. And the brand uses sugarcane sourced from Southern Brazil for its proprietary trademarked SweetFoam shoe sole. Sugarcane, relying on rainwater instead of irrigation, is a renewable resource that grows quickly and also minimizes carbon emissions.

An Allbirds IPO would be among the first of the big-name digitally native consumer brands to hit the public markets. And another that could be looking at a public offering is Warby Parker, according to a New York Times report on Wednesday, which first reported that Allbirds is getting ready to interview bankers. The report also noted that clean baby and beauty products firm Honest Company, cofounded by actress Jessica Alba, is also targeting an IPO.

Allbirds perhaps provided its first indication of an intent to go public weeks ago when it published a job opening for a director of corporate and securities whose responsibilities are listed as taking charge of SEC filings. Additional duties include “day-to-day counseling and advice on corporate and securities law matters,” as well as the ability to “register” as in-house counsel in California.