Oat milk company Oatly makes its market debut Thursday, after pricing its IPO at $17 a share, making the Swedish brothers who founded the company $400 million, according to a Fox Business story.
The company, whose Oat “milk” product has become a celebrity-backed darling of the alternative-to-milk crowd, raised $1.4 billion and holds a value of $10 billion.
An investment group including Oprah Winfrey and former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz invested $200 million in the company last year, and the Super Bowl ads – roundly criticized but certainly memorable – boosted its profile further.
The ad featured CEO Toni Petersson playing a keyboard and singing “Wow! No Cow,” in a field.
Oat milk itself was invented by Rickard and Bjorn Oeste in 1994. The now-very-rich Swedish siblings had sought an alternative to cow’s milk for people with lactose intolerance.
“Our founders just figured, OK, if vast majority of the world population are intolerant to milk why don’t we make something that is actually designed for human beings not baby cows?” Petersson previously told CNBC Make It.
Petersson, who arrived as CEO in 2014, has led the charge.
He changed the logo; it now shouts “OAT-LY!” very clearly.
He moved out the Swedish wording and moved in the English across all packaging.
He put science on his side, commissioning a report showing clear benefits over dairy.
Finally, he played to the American sense of curiosity and cultural momentum by bringing forth a special barista blend of Oatly oat milk.
From 2018 to 2019, sales of oat milk skyrocketed from $6 million to nearly $40 million, Genevieve Aronson, VP of communications at Nielsen, told CNBC.
“We were a bit unprepared and taken by surprise by the massive hype around the brand,” Petersson says.
In 2020, Oatly reported revenue of $421.4 million, a 106.5% increase from $204.0 million in 2019.