Aardvark, the only paper straw producer in the US, has been acquired to keep up with booming demand. The Hustle Sponsored by The only paper straw producer in the US gets slurped up by new owner In the thick of the anti-plastic movement, the US’s favorite only paper straw maker, Aardvark, just got a whole […]
August 8, 2018
Aardvark, the only paper straw producer in the US, has been acquired to keep up with booming demand.
The only paper straw producer in the US gets slurped up by new owner
In the thick of the anti-plastic movement, the US’s favoriteonly paper straw maker, Aardvark, just got a whole lot more popular.
Now, the Indiana-based company has been acquired by Hoffmaster Group, a Wisconsin-based firm that makes premium disposable paper napkins and other tableware.
While the terms of the deal have not been released, the Hoffmaster plans to increase Aardvark’s efficiency and kick production into high gear as it struggles to keep up with booming demand.
A good problem to have
Within the last year, cities like San Francisco, Seattle, Fort Myers, Florida, and Vancouver, B.C., have all nixed the use of plastic straws.
And, the environmental friendly fun don’t stop at the city level: Companies including Starbucks, American Airlines, Disney, and others have also announced their indefinite plastic straw sabbatical.
Look who’s laughing now, paper straw h8ters
Of course, starting a paper straw business is exactly the type of idea ripe for the ribbing, but in the 10 years since Aardvark’s launch, they’ve proved their staying power.
Aardvark’s paper straws debuted in 2007, and, according to the company’s global business director, David Rhodes, the company’s year-over-year growth has doubled each year since.
And, 2017’s growth was astronomical, at a whopping 5k%. Meaning, the company currently has a lead time (or rather, lag time) of “several months” for orders.
So how will the acquisition help them keep up with demand?
Hoffmaster reportedly has a 6- to 9-month plan to expand and ramp up Aardvark’s production.
According to Hoffmaster, the acquisition will give Aardvark the necessary resources to fulfill orders faster -- because darnit, the people need their paper straws!
Sucking up resources
Ekso Bionics stock jumped 28% after Ford ordered 75 exo-suits
After Ford employees successfully tested Ekso Bionics’ strength-enhancing mechanical exoskeletons over the past year, the motor company is buying 75 suits for workers in 15 factories.
After Ford announced its plans, Ekso’s stock shot up more than 28%.
Not super strong, but super safe
Ekso Bionics operates a ‘Health’ division for spinal rehabilitation and a ‘Works’ division for industrial applications like the Ford factory.
Ford began testing Ekso’s suits not to help employees lift more, but to help them get injured less (the suits provide just 15 lbs of lift assistance to each arm).
The suits, which fit workers between 5’2’’ and 6’4’’ and sell for $6.5k, reduce shoulder strain for workers continually working overhead. And, turns out, that extra support goes a long way -- in the yearlong trial, Ekso suits helped reduce workplace injuries by 83% at Ford.
But Ford isn’t the only company getting a lift...
The stock lift from Ford’s purchase is a big win for a company that raised just $14.1m before going public in 2014 (Ekso has still only raised $70.8m to date).
As companies continue to try to reduce the $21B spent annually on workplace injuries, demand for industrial exoskeletons continues to increase. Costco, Lowes, Boeing, Siemens, and Panasonic have all tested similar suits.
Ekso has at least 35 competitors in the exo-suit industry (including one, SuitX, started by Ekso’s renegade founder), but Ford’s order will give them a fortifying boost for the time being.
Otto founder launches Kodiak with $40m after Uber ditched self-driving trucks
A week after Uber closed its self-driving truck division (called Otto pre-acquisition), the company’s founder debuted a new company, Kodiak Robotics.
Launched in stealth 3 months ago, Kodiak has already raised $40m. And, with autonomous truck veteran Don Burnette at the helm, the company hopes to drive themselves straight to the forefront of the $719B US freight industry.
Don Burnette just keeps on truckin’
After 5 years on Google’s self-driving car team, Don Burnette co-founded Otto with Anthony Levandowski (now infamous for lifting trade secrets from Google’s Waymo) in January 2016.
Uber acquired Otto less than a year later and assigned Burnette to the car team. But Burnette, who believes self-driving trucks were more important than cars, left last March “to focus 100% of [his] time on trucking.”
In freight’s future, no one knows who’s in the driver’s seat
Less than 2 years after spending more than $600m on Otto, Uber chose to shut down the company to focus instead on Uber Freight, which aims to disrupt the freight industry with humans at the wheel.
But, since 70% of American freight is still shipped in trucks and the shortage of truck drivers continues to worsen (a 36k shortage in 2016 increased to 51k last year), plenty of entrepreneurs besides Burnette are still focused on driverless trucking solutions.
Tesla is still moving forward with the development of its autonomous Semi and startup Embark is picking up speed thanks to a $30m Series B from Sequoia, but Kodiak’s combination of cash and experience make it a frontrunner in the driverless truck race.
The billionaire battle is over: US investor will take full control of Arsenal
US investor and twirly mustache villain cosplayer Stan Kroenke has won full control of the English premier league football club, Arsenal, after Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov agreed to sell his 30% stake for around $712m.
The deal reportedly gives Kroenke the 90% stake he needs to purchase the remaining shares and become the indomitable sole-superior of one of Europe’s biggest soccer teams (now valued at $2.3B).
A grudge match for the ages
For the past 11 years (since Usmanov became an Arsenal shareholder) the two have vied for sole proprietorship of the storied sports club.
The two went back and forth during their time together, purchasing shares whenever they became available, repeatedly trying and failing to dethrone each other (last year, Kroenke declined an offer north of $1B from Usmanov to relinquish his shares).
But Kroenke gained the upper hand in 2011, leaving Usmanov nothing to do but denounce the ownership’s effectiveness in several strongly worded letters.
Fans aren’t psyched about Kroenke’s takeover
The deal clears the way for Kroenke to take the club private, an action Usmanov had long blocked by refusing to sell his shares.
Kroenke reportedly intends to see his long-standing dream come true, forcing the remaining small shareholders, most of them Arsenal supporters, to sell their shares to him.
The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust (AST) criticized the announcement, describing it as “a dreadful day for Arsenal football club.”
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