Coworking giant WeWork invests in Laird Superfood; Product made in Sisters will be distributed to WeWork offices

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One of the investors fueling Laird Superfood’s breakneck-­speed expansion in Sisters is the New York coworking giant WeWork.

Laird Superfood CEO Paul Hodge said in December that the company had raised $32 million and would grow to 500 employees.

He disclosed Friday WeWork’s investment, which is accompanied by a five-year distribution agreement. The agreement provides a guaranteed source of revenue that will also introduce Laird’s coconut-based coffee creamer and other nutrition products to WeWork members across the country.

“Their customers are corporate warriors and entrepreneurs,” Hodge said. “They do everything they can to help these people in their environments do the best they can.”

The total of WeWork’s investment was not disclosed. Hodge said other investors, who are company insiders, contributed to the $32 million. WeWork will have a minority stake in Laird Superfood, and WeWork executive Arik Benzino will join Laird’s board of directors.

“This is a significant investment in a consumer products business regardless of location and great to see it here in Central Oregon,” Robert Pease, fund manager at Cascade Angels in Bend, said in an email.

The amount that Laird Superfood raised indicates the company’s success to date and its perceived potential, Pease said.

WeWork has 400 office locations in 99 cities with more than 400,000 paying members.

In addition to leasing to individuals and small companies, its customers include companies such as Amazon, Pepsi and Salesforce.

WeWork has invested in and acquired several other types of businesses, including Meetup.com in 2017.

This week, it announced a rebranding as The We Company. WeWork changed its name at the same time that some observers are questioning its status as one of the most valuable private companies.

After landing a $2 billion investment this week, WeWork was valued at $47 billion. But it continues to lose money. WeWork had a net loss of $723 million in the first half of last year.

Laird Superfood was close to an initial public offering last fall when WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann offered to make an investment that would allow Laird to stay private, Hodge said. “It was kind of the deal we couldn’t refuse. We get to raise the money. And remain a private company. And get a distribution agreement.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7160, kmclaughlin@bendbulletin.com

David Gelles of the New York Times News Service contributed to this report.

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