What is the “mission” of Pat Brown? Do you consider this to be the socially valuable mission that Pat Brown considers it to be?
How realistic do you consider this mission to be? If not, what would a realistic mission be? By what percentage could the global consumption of animal meat be reduced?
Find additional information about the topic… at least two more publications. There are suggested WSJ readings at the end of the assigned article. You may use those if you want.
Additionally, I need one question to be asked in regard to this article.
Redwood City, Calif.—Capitalism’s ultimate heroes were once the professional CEOs. Get an MBA; do time at P&G, GE, or IBM; find a company that needs a turnaround artist, cost cutter or dealmaker. Glory went to those who scaled the corporate ladder.
These days, we celebrate those attempting to knock the ladder down. Chobani Inc. founder Hamdi Ulukaya calls these types of leaders the anti-CEOs who believe “the playbook that guided business and CEOs for the last 40 years is broken.” A better CEO blueprint, he contends, includes employing fairer pay policies, adopting social causes and weighing in on politics.
These are relatively easy words to live by if you’re a CEO of a private company like Chobani, shielded from investors and analysts constantly pressuring you to make the numbers. But how will this anti-CEO ethic play in public markets?
A 65-year-old biochemist who wears his old running shoes to work is preparing to find out. Pat Brown, the man behind plant-based meat maker Impossible Foods Inc., is becoming a bit of lightning rod for those who think environmentalists just want to take away our gasoline, steaks and Styrofoam.
Mr. Brown is out to change the world through good old-fashion capitalism instead of coercion, and his company’s multibillion-dollar private valuation has Wall Street salivating for an initial public offering. His plant-based products infused with soy leghemoglobin, or “heme,” replicate the taste of beef. Items like Impossible Whoppers or Impossible Lettuce Wraps are on their way to becoming as well-known as Happy Meals.
Dining on Impossible Burgers and Impossible Pizza at an Italian restaurant on Stanford University’s campus Tuesday, Mr. Brown talked about practices that could be at odds with the desires of investors. He wants to continually cut prices for instance. After the plates are cleared, he wonders out loud if there is a way to make sure the Impossibilities working lower-paid jobs are compensated more like the brass.
He already pays a “thriving wage,” but he seems uncomfortable with the idea that some of his employees are using a raise to simply get their head above water while others may be using them to buy a vacation home.
Mr. Brown is the guy to be asking this question. He lives in the same small condominium he bought when working as a Stanford professor. It’s crammed this week with visits from his kids and grandchild.
Mr. Brown says his goal is to ‘get to the point where animal food as a technology no longer works because the economic model is no longer viable.’
Impossible’s founder is polarizing but confident he has a broad message Wall Street will embrace when the company goes public. Rival Beyond Meat Inc.’s 2019 IPO indicates there is room for enviro-foodies on the stock market. Shares trade above its initial price but below the all-time high. But Mr. Brown realizes there isn’t as much appetite for sanctimony. He wants the free market to choose his product because it’s better.
“It’s not going to work telling people how to eat,” he says. “It’s never worked. What we need to do is get to the point where animal food as a technology no longer works because the economic model is no longer viable.” You only do that by offering superior options at a lower price.
“Pat made it sexy to sell vegan and vegetarian food to non-vegans,” Mike Selden, a 28-year-old founder and CEO of Finless Foods in the Bay Area, told me Monday. “He is a role model.” Mr Selden’s company is producing fish by taking cells from tuna and cultivating them in the lab.
Mr. Brown is preparing the way for these green entrepreneurs, promising early-stage investors that they could support his goal of providing cleaner eating options and still get filthy rich. That pitch worked, raising $750 million in recent years. But Wall Street has fickle tastes.
What if you miss profit targets once you’re public? What happens if the rapidly growing staff needs to be cut or R&D needs to be trimmed? What if the red-hot plant-based meat craze abruptly cools?
These questions make for rich debates among pundits on CNBC, but are as appealing to this vegan founder as a baloney sandwich.
“It’s been beaten into business people that they have to think of all the ways something might fail,” Mr. Brown told me. “A big part of my job is reminding people of the importance of what we are doing.”
Impossible was founded to address the outsize role animal agriculture has in contributing to global warming, he says.
When I ask if he’d ever consider tweaking his seemingly impossible goal of entirely replacing animal protein with the plant-based kind by 2035, he tells me that if he doesn’t succeed the planet is screwed, although he uses a more colorful word. “No one at the company or in the world is as committed to this as me.” Impossible’s employees who “came for the mission” are aligned.
This sense of mission is at the heart of what makes great entrepreneurs great. Even if we think of Elon Musk as a loose cannon, or Steve Jobs as a bit of a jerk, or Pat Brown as a bit of a zealot (he calls himself an evangelist), it’s hard not to root for them.
Harvard Business School’s annual list of the top 100 performing CEOs includes only a small fraction of founders, and Fortune 100 companies are overwhelmingly run by non-founding leaders, but still, we spend substantial time analyzing the people who start stuff.
Mr. Brown didn’t start out as an entrepreneur. As a scientist, his DNA research led to lifesaving discoveries. In his mid-50s, Mr. Brown took a sabbatical, asked how he could most effectively help the planet and landed on making tastier alternative meats.
Mr. Brown is dogged in this crusade. He has an arsenal of scientific research, demographic trends and climate data to defend his case. I’ve been told by an executive at another company he declined to take a job at Impossible after Mr. Brown essentially asked if he’d be willing to take a bullet for the cause.
But he is also diplomatic. Mr. Brown repeatedly welcomes me to disagree. “Please challenge me,” he says repeatedly. He encourages me to consider Impossible products even if I don’t buy into the environmental argument.
I’d more readily dismiss Mr. Brown if he didn’t practice what he preaches about conservation.
Drinking after-dinner espresso, we chatted about the retired marathon-running shoes he’s wearing. He wore a similar pair when I first met him at a White Castle in 2018, when he joined the burger chain’s CEO in a suburban Detroit launch of the Impossible Slider. He also had a pair of sneakers on when I watched him speak last month in Las Vegas to a crowded room of executives and politicians during the Consumer Electronics Show.
I’m a jogger, and I understand running shoes are still fine for walking around in after they lose their bounce. But I’m a sucker for new stuff. Mr. Brown chides me: “Why throw out a perfectly good pair of shoes?”
As I wait for my Uber to pick me up after dinner, I watch to see if the founder of one of Silicon Valley’s hottest startups at least drives a pricey Tesla like the other hotshots in these parts. I shouldn’t have been surprised to see him whirl around and out of the parking lot in a modest Chevy Bolt.