WeWork gets into the food business, backing the superfood startup of big wave surfer Laird Hamilton
WeWork CEO Adam Neumann has been described as an avid surfer, one who has been known to grab his board and go, both in the Hamptons in Long Island, where he reportedly owns a home, as well as in Hawaii.
Maybe it’s no surprise then that WeWork is now also investing a so-called superfood company that was created several years ago by big wave surf star Laird Hamilton, who Neumann was apparently surfing alongside just last week. In a video call with Neumann on Monday, a Fast Company reporter noted that Neumann is currently sporting a a cast on one of his fingers, having broken it during the outing.
How much WeWork is investing in the startup, Laird Superfood, isn’t being disclosed, but according to the food company, the money will be used to fuel product development, acquisitions, and to hire more employees. A press release that was published without fanfare earlier today also notes that Laird Superfood products will be made available to WeWork members and employees at select locations soon.
Some of those offerings are certainly . . . interesting, including “performance mushrooms” that it says “harnesses the benefits” of Chaga, which is a fungus that’s believed by some to stimulate the immune system; Cordyceps, another fungus that’s been used for kidney disorders and erectile dysfuntion; and, among other things, Lion’s Mane, yet another fungus believed by some to stimulate nerve growth in the brain.
Laird Superfood also sells a variety of beet- and turmeric-infused powdered coconut waters, “ultra-caffeinated” coffee, and a variety of coffee creamers, including a mint-flavored creamer and a turmeric-flavored number.
It’s for a very specific consumer, in other words (presumably one who really likes turmeric). Then again, what works for Laird Hamilton will undoubtedly work for a lot of people who’ve watched his decades-long career with amazement.
Hamilton seems to be selling what he truly ingests, too. As he told The Guardian last spring of his own diet: “I love espresso. You could give me five shots of espresso, a quarter stick of butter, a quarter stick of coconut oil and other fat, and I’ll drink that. I could go for five or six hours and not be hungry, because I’m burning fat.”
Organic food companies have been raising money left and right, including from traditional food companies that don’t want to miss out on the next wave (pun intended), as well as from venture investors, who’ve poured billions of dollars into healthy snacks and drinks in recent years, with mixed results.
For WeWork’s part, the investment isn’t the first that has seemed somewhat far afield for the company, which has raised the bulk of its money from SoftBank to date. In one of more surprising bets to date, WeWork invested in a maker of wave pools in 2016. The size of that funding was also undisclosed.