The 10-year-old company expects to price its IPO between $14 and $16 per share and has applied to list on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "WBEV."
Like other alcohol purveyors, Winc has seen a "significant increase" in direct online sales since March 2020, according to an SEC filing published last week. As the pandemic shuttered bars and restaurants, more people splurged on bottles of wine and spirits to drink at home. Excessive drinking spiked during lockdowns, too.
Winc's executives say the online frenzy reflects a "permanent shift in consumer behavior," away from buying bottles at brick-and-mortar stores.
Winc produces its own wines in collaboration with vineyards and other wine brands, such as Yes Way Rosé. And in a sense, Winc can be thought of as a wine-brand factory. It aims to pop out as many as ten new brands per year based on the data it gathers on customers and their ordering habits. To that point, Winc says its mission is to "become the leading brand builder within the alcoholic beverages industry."
The majority of Winc's revenue today comes from its subscribers, who pay monthly for bottles tailored to their palates, but the company also sells its brands through wholesalers. In all, Winc says it sold more than 430,000 cases of wine in 2020, up 80% from the prior year.
While the pandemic has been a boon for Winc's sales, another global emergency poses a threat to its bottom line.
Climate Change and Wildfires
Winc warned in its filing that destructive events linked to climate change, such as wildfires and extreme weather, "could negatively impact the quality and quantity of grapes available to us and our producers for wine production."
"We are already beginning to see the effects of climate change on wine in many regions of the world," Columbia University climate scientist Dr. Benjamin Cook told dot.LA. For example, droughts and wildfires in the West are "linked in part to climate change, and these events are having impacts on grape growers and harvests in California and elsewhere in the region," said Cook in a comment on the wider industry.
But Winc sells a ton of California wine. All five of the company's "core brands" — which each bring in between "$1 million and $10 million in annualized revenues" — feature California grapes, though not always exclusively. Winc's "Wonderful Wine Company," for example, sources grapes from California as well as Spain, Argentina, and Chile. For its part, Winc says it is "not reliant on any one vineyard or geographic" because it outsources production.
As the impacts of climate change nevertheless grow clearer, climate-related disclosures such as Winc's have also "grown dramatically" in the U.S., the Securities and Exchange Commission said earlier this year.
And wine is one among countless industries affected by the climate crisis.
Google, for example, has cautioned that hotter temperatures could drive up the cost of cooling its data centers, while drugmaker Eli Lilly has said the warming Earth may boost demand for some of its medicines.
While noting the threat of climate change, Winc also laid out in some detail how it limits its carbon footprint. The company said in the filing that it uses "flexi-tanks" to pack more wine into shipping containers and it plans to embrace corks that are "100% plant based, 100% sustainable and made from discarded materials."
Winc also says it strives to produce 75% of its wines "from sustainably farmed grapes by the end of 2021." The wineseller advertises many of its bottles under a sustainability banner, but it offers little information on how it determines whether a bottle of wine was produced sustainably.
Winc did not respond to requests for comment on its coming IPO.
On this episode of the LA Venture podcast, Untapped Capital, Alltruits and Kiva founder Jessica Jackley talks about her experience supporting entrepreneurs across the world, and offers advice to founders on what to do when encountering doubt -- from themselves or others.
"The pursuit of an opportunity, a vision, like an imaginary world that you want to make real. You're running after this thing, you're pursuing it without regard to what you have in front of you," she said. "So there's always going to be something wrong."
Jackley's journey as an entrepreneur started when she founded Kiva, a nonprofit that lends money to low-income entrepreneurs. She started the company and moved to East Africa where she heard stories of people starting businesses with just $100.
"I wasn't asked to swoop in and help or save. I was asked strategic questions about where they could access loan capital, where they could access business training," said Jackley. She added that the individuals she met through the service didn't want handouts.
Kiva offered $200, $300 loans at no interest. That model helped build successful small businesses. Every year, they saw a raise on how many loans they could offer. The company has so far facilitated $1.5 billion in loans since the business started in 2005.
More recently, Jackley founded Untapped Capital and Alltruits. Untapped gave her opportunities to invest in unexpected companies and watch them rise, much like Kiva. Alltruits was born out of the pandemic.
"I really wanted to figure out a way, especially as we were on lockdown, like how do we not just have our lives be waiting for the doorbell to ring and another package is dropped off and we just consume it, right? What, what would it look like to reach back out into the world in a way that is helpful," said Jackley.
She created a box subscription service that provides kids with activities that can benefit them and the world. The company's last box focused on making a pollinator hotel for bees.
From her ventures, Jackley recognized when pursuing your dreams, something will always go wrong.
"There's going to be days when you are told, or you're telling yourself, 'well, I'm not old enough', 'I'm too old'. 'I don't have enough experience'. 'I have the wrong experience', whatever," said Jackley. "Just take more steps anyway towards that thing. Cause that's what great entrepreneurs do."
Hear more of the episode, in which Jackley talks about her goal to disrupt the volunteer economy and more.
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The cash-and-stock deal narrowly surpasses the total amount of funding that Scopely has raised to date ($998.5 million). Through the acquisition, Sony Pictures will become a minority shareholder in Scopely, and the startup will take control of mobile titles like "Wheel of Fortune Slots" and "Solitaire TriPeaks."
Culver City-based Scopely was valued at $3.4 billion about a year ago, according to Pitchbook.
"We hope to take what is already a strong business and accelerate it through our publishing and technology infrastructure, unlocking even more value," said Scopely chief revenue officer Tim O'Brien in a statement to press. "Through this acquisition, we will continue to cultivate a loyal player base as part of our mission to inspire play, every day."
Launched in 1999 as the online games site WorldWinner.com, a series of acquisitions eventually led to the creation of GSN Games, a subsidiary of Santa Monica-based Games Show Network — which itself became wholly owned by Sony Pictures after a series of yet more acquisitions.
The billion-dollar-deal follows Sony Pictures' sale of the WorldWinner brand to Game Taco, a San Francisco-based publisher, earlier this year.
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