Nathaniel Ru, co-founder of Sweetgreen
Brian Snyder—Reuters
By Kevin Kelleher
October 26, 2018

Sweetgreen, a fast-casual salad chain, is hoping to join the recent herd of mostly tech-focused startups that have raised big money in private rounds at valuations of $1 billion or more.

The company is nearing a $200 million investment, led by Fidelity Investments, that would value it above $1 billion, CNBC reported Friday.

Founded in Washington, DC, in 2007, Sweetgreen relocated its headquarters to Los Angeles in 2016, while expanding to nearly 90 restaurants from California to New York. To date, the company has raised $129 million in several venture rounds, according to Crunchbase.

Unicorns, startups with valuations of $1 billion or more, are typically fast-growing, venture-backed companies focused on tech, such as cloud computing or consumer Internet. There are 284 so-called unicorns, according to CB Insights, for a combined value of $886 billion, or roughly equal to Amazon’s market capitalization.

While solidly in the food industry, Sweetgreen still sees itself as a tech startup. “We’ve always acted more like a tech company than a food one,” Sweetgreen said in a blog post that unveiled a mobile app for customers. “Like many tech companies, we want to disrupt. Like many tech companies, we raised venture capital… And now, like all tech companies, we have an in-house tech team.”

Other than Fidelity, it’s unclear which firms will invest in the latest private round for Sweetgreen. In previous venture rounds, T. Rowe Price and Revolution, a DC-based VC firm headed by AOL co-founder Steve Case, were investors.


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