Starbucks is serving up a steaming hot $100 million cash commitment to anchor a new food-focused fund in partnership with the consumer and tech-focused focused private equity firm Valor Equity Partners.
The behemoth of burnt-coffee said that its commitment to the Valor Siren Ventures fund is an attempt to focus on “new ideas and technologies that are relevant to customers, inspiring to partners (employees), and meaningful to Starbucks business.”
The Starbucks announcement was short on details, except for a general statement that it would focus on investments in companies developing technologies, products and solutions related to food or retail.
As a company, Starbucks has been incredibly innovative — rolling out new tech-enabled services to customers. The company has one of the most popular mobile payment services, is dabbling with cryptocurrency payments and has a robust on-demand delivery service through UberEats.
Meanwhile, Valor has a long history of investing in both technology and consumer food businesses. The firm has investments in companies that run the gamut from SpaceX, Tesla and Addepar to food services companies and restaurant chains like WowBao, Fooda and Eatsa.
With its commitment, Starbucks joins a growing number of food and beverage companies that are embracing venture capital. Kellogg’s, Tyson Foods and General Mills all have affiliated venture funds, and even Chipotle is starting an accelerator program.
“We believe that innovative ideas are fuel for the future, and we continue to build on this heritage inside our company across beverage, experiential retail, and our digital flywheel,” said Kevin Johnson, president and chief executive officer of Starbucks, in a statement. “At the same time, and with an eye toward accelerating our innovation agenda, we are inspired by, and want to support the creative, entrepreneurial businesses of tomorrow with whom we may explore commercial relationships down the road. This new partnership with Valor presents exciting opportunities, not only for these startups, but also for Starbucks, as we build an enduring company for decades to come.”