Footwear Firm Allbirds Raises $100M

Allbirds store sign

Allbirds, the New Zealand-American footwear company, has closed on a $100 million round of Series E funding.

Sources told the latest round of investment puts the company’s value at $1.7 billion, up slightly from where it was two years ago.

The funding was led by Franklin Templeton, the San Mateo, California global investment firm.

It has stood out with its sustainable footwear made of wool and other natural fibers and materials. It has attracted socially-conscious consumers. But it’s working to broaden the appeal of its shoes, the The Wall Street Journal reported.

Allbirds Co-CEO Joseph Zwillinger said the new cash will be used to build stores, add products and fund direct-to-consumer sales operations as key for expansion.

“Business can be a force for positive change, and this additional capital will allow us to further our mission of bringing more sustainable products to people around the world,” Zwillinger told Hypebeast. “We have seen the power of collective action in response to the global pandemic, and as we continue to grow we will push for a similar united response to another universal threat: climate change.”

The Wall Street Journal reported Allbirds initially set out to raise $50 million. But the initiative was embraced by investors including T. Rowe Price, Baillie Gifford, TDM Growth Partners and Rockefeller Capital Management. Some of the funding came from returning investors.

Last fall, the direct-to-consumer shoe brand said it planned to open 20 stores next year. At the time, the company began as a Silicon Valley eCommerce retailer, and has opened 14 stores so far.

“We’ve got nearly 15 stores at the moment, 14 soon to be 15,” Timothy Brown, the firm’s co-founder and co-CEO, said at the time. “We’ll add 20 stores next year. Many of them in the states. We’ve got some overseas in China and the U.K. and in New Zealand.”

Today, Allbirds has 21 stores around the world, and the company plans to grow that number alongside new investment in information technology, warehouses, distribution and logistics.

In May, Allbirds announced it would return its Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan. In an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” Zwillinger said while his San Francisco-based company fit the criteria of a small business that was hurting, it appeared other firms needed the cash more.

“There are lots of other companies and nonprofits out there that were unable to get the loans,” he told the network. “And we felt an obligation to our community to return it and hope it finds its way to some who really need it.”