Silicon Valley has been bankrolling more than computers and video games for years. Tech giants have produced a mega platform of super-rich investors who now share the pot with energy companies, medicine, transportation and infrastructure.
Today there are new kids on the block, shareholders who are not just diversifying portfolios but shuffling menus across the U.S. In the last year alone, venture capital firms in Silicon Valley have funneled over $350 million into food projects. That’s a 37 percent jump over the previous year in a market funded by less than $50 million in 2008—just seven years ago.
We’re not talking about traditional commodity markets here, like wheat, coffee and sugar. We’re talking start-up investments for on-demand food delivery, ready-to-cook dinners, healthy restaurant chains, and inventors creating cheese, meat and egg substitutes from plants.
Trends are spreading fast and jumping coastlines. Earlier this year, a few high-powered New York chefs and food moguls were recruited by Steve Case, head of Revolution Growth and founder of AOL, to pour a cool $18.5 million into Sweetgreen, a new salads restaurant with outlets on the East Coast.
According to a recent piece in the New York Times, venture capital firms financing these businesses are some of the West Coast’s most prominent names, like Khosla Ventures, SV Angel and the Obvious Collection. Celebrities are also on board, including players like Matt Damon, Tom Brady and Bill Gates.
As stakes rise (and steaks fall) we as consumers have access to a greater array of healthy food options, enlivening our tastes and empowering our choices.