Blue Apron Pursues I.P.O. as Amazon Looms Over Industry

Shares of other grocery chains plunged after Amazon’s bid for Whole Foods was announced Friday, and analysts speculated about what that union would mean for food-delivery start-ups like Instacart. Shares of Kroger tumbled 9 percent Friday, although they recovered 1.6 percent Monday.

Whole Foods shares, meanwhile, continued to rise Monday and closed at $43.22 — more than Amazon’s cash offer of $42 a share, suggesting investors are optimistic that a higher bid may yet emerge.

Other big retailers have bought or invested in internet start-ups to bolster their e-commerce capabilities. Walmart recently agreed to buy Bonobos, a men’s clothing company, for $310 million, and Target led a $170 million investment into Casper, a maker of mattresses and other sleep products.

Blue Apron also faces meal-kit competition from HelloFresh, Sun Basket and Purple Carrot.

Such companies were founded on the premise that customers want fresh ingredients and the convenience of home delivery with the satisfaction of actually preparing their meals at home.

Blue Apron is likely to argue to prospective investors that its niche in the food-delivery service is significantly different from the more general service that Amazon offers through PrimeFresh.

Founded in 2012, Blue Apron is well known among the cognoscenti of podcasts and other media popular with millennials.

That popularity has been a result of aggressive marketing. Blue Apron’s marketing expense is enormous, and it has been growing, jumping tenfold from 2014 to 2016, to $144.1 million.

Now the company is hoping to capitalize on its growth by pursuing an initial public offering. It is taking that step with the public markets appearing more welcoming to debutantes: The number of offerings tripled, to 25, in the first quarter of this year from the same time last year. Such offerings raised nearly $10 billion in proceeds in the quarter.

Among those offerings was one by Snap, the parent…

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