Impossible Foods, the six-year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based company known for its “juicy” meatless burgers, quietly announced $75 million in funding late last week, led by Temasek, with participation from Open Philanthropy, as well as earlier investors Bill Gates, Khosla Ventures and Horizon Ventures.
The company says it isn’t providing further financial details but the round brings Impossible’s funding to nearly $300 million, including earlier rounds that have included GV, Viking Global Investors and UBS.
Impossible’s burgers are made with soy leghemoglobin, a protein that carries heme, an iron-containing molecule that occurs naturally in every animal and plant.
The company has said it wants to replace a number of animal products with goods engineered from plants, but for now, it seems squarely focused on getting more of its burgers into the world. Part of that strategy involved opening a factory in Oakland, Ca., in May, where it expects to be producing 1 million pounds of ground “plant meat” each month.
The reason for ramping up: The burgers are available only in select restaurants right now, and Impossible finds itself in a race to get its product into grocery stores.
It needs to move fast. The “burgers” of Beyond Meat — another company that’s backed by Bill Gates and producing plant-based alternatives to foods made of animal proteins — are already available in hundreds of Whole Foods and Safeway locations. Last week, the company announced that it’s launching in more than 600 Kroger stores across 13 states, too.
The round isn’t surprising, given Impossible’s ambitions, though Temasek might have first had to demonstrate that it understands the company.
In May, Impossible’s founder and CEO Patrick Brown spoke at an event hosted by this editor, where he remarked that generally speaking, investors don’t do enough diligence on deals involving science they don’t understand.
“I love VCs and particularly the ones that invested in us,” Brown had said. “But it’s truly astonishing how little diligence they do in terms of the actual science that underlies some tech companies.”
“Sometimes,” he half joked, “some of the VC firms we work with will ask me to take a look at a company. But it doesn’t really matter what I say because sometimes I’ll say, ‘If I were you I’d just flush my money down the toilet because it is faster and easier.’ But it doesn’t matter.They’ll do the deal.”