Anyone who regularly reads this website or subscribes to our Food Startup & Marketing Newsletter is likely aware of the explosion in food and agriculture-related startups over the past two years. Food-related tech and media companies – technologies that help consumers discover, cook, buy and learn about their food – have experienced significant growth in terms of the number companies created, venture and angel investment, and consolidation.
New research released today by Rosenheim Advisors, a strategic and financial consulting firm, and León, Mayer & Co., an investment banking and private equity firm, indicates an approximate $1.5 billion has been invested in such companies within the past 18 months. Over 50 investments have been made in 2012 alone. These numbers, however, also incorporate startups with food related or relevant verticals, including Instagram ($50 million), Pinterest ($100 million), Fab.com ($105 million), Living Social ($176 million), Whaleshark Media ($150 million) and Gilt Group ($138 million), says Brita Rosenheim, principal of Rosenheim Advisors.
[Addition: It is important to note that this estimate only focuses on a particular segment of the food tech industry.]
Major technology companies such as Google, Facebook, Groupon, Meredith, Condé Nast, Constant Contact and Amazon.com have all acquired startups in this space to help them increase engagement and capitalize on new revenue streams from a targeted audience. Google, for example, spent $151 million to acquire Zagat and is now using their reviews and rating system to power Google+ Local’s search offerings. Conde Nast’s acqusition of Ziplist for $14 million and Constant Contact’s acquisition of SinglePlatform for $70 million, plus a $30 million earnout, are two more examples of the kinds of acquisitions taking place. Rosenheim Advisors and León, Mayer & Co see this as an indicator that consolidation is likely to continue and will be key for the growth strategies of large technology and media companies.
“Whether through ‘Likes,’ ‘Pins,’ ‘Check-ins,’ Sponsored Tweets, group coupons, local ad spend, mobile payments, digital commerce or curated content – every major consumer Internet company is already focused on food as a vertical, and many have been actively acquiring start-ups with significant exposure to the space,” says Rosenheim. “As competition for consumer mindshare intensifies, maintaining a leading edge in this space will be integral to the growth strategies of tech and media giants.”
Rosenheim Advisors and León, Mayer & Co see major opportunities for consumer Internet companies to grow and strengthen their platforms through investments in food-related technology companies focused on social media, mobile technologies, local discovery and commerce.
In an attempt to elucidate and categorize the startups in this space, the firms created the Food Tech & Media Industry Map featured below. The map features over 300 startup in key sector segments including Recipes and Cooking Communities, Recipe Box and Search, Publishers, Digital Content, Vertical Ad Networks, Product Guides and Discovery, Grocery/CPG Coupon Distributors and Aggregators, Grocery/CPG Mobile Coupons, Grocery/CPG Loyalty Rewards, Mobile/Online Ordering, Commerce, Product Deals/Offers, Restaurant Reviews and Search, Personalized Restaurant Discovery, Online/Offline Communities, Restaurant Coupons/Deals/Loyalty Rewards, Reservations, Next Generation Restaurant Ordering/Payments, and Restaurant Marketing/Analytics.