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Juul Plans $1.2 Billion Dollar Worldwide Expansion

Juul Plans $1.2 Billion Dollar Worldwide Expansion


San Francisco startup Juul Labs Inc. has established itself as one of the market's strongest vapor companies since they launched in 2015; now they’re looking to make a big international push. According to a report from Bloomberg, the company is raising $1.2 billion from a number of shareholders in order to broaden distribution around the world. With this new cash infusion, the company would be valued at more than $16 billion.

As of June, Juul claims to have captured 68 percent of the U.S. vapor market. The company is showing heavy overall growth as the market for combustible tobacco products has inversely nosedived. Since January 2017, cigarettes' share of the smoking and vaping market has fallen by almost 4 percentage points, while Juul's market share has jumped by roughly 3.5 percentage points in the same period.

Juul’s popularity has led mutual funds to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in the startup. New York firm Tiger Global Management invested over $600 million recently, according to a report in Fast Company. The company’s success has also been seen as a way to “disrupt” the way that combustible cigarette manufacturers view their business model.

“Juul’s success underscores the potential for disruptive technology to undermine U.S. tobacco’s reliable business algorithm,” Morgan Stanley analyst Pamela Kaufman wrote in a note to investors this week.

As much as Juul Labs Inc. has been lauded as an entrepreneurial success story, they have also frequently garnered criticism and generated controversy within the government and without. Critics have argued that Juul flavored vape pens are marketed to underage children and are easier to conceal in school due to their small size.

In May Scott Gottlieb, Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, announced that the agency sent “warning letters” to Juul Labs, other online retailers, and brick-and-mortar shops around the country in a first step by the federal government to address underage use of vapor products. Juul responded by saying that they're planning to invest $30 million in an expanded effort to prevent underage users from getting their hands on vapor products.

What remains to be seen is how the Juul product will be received abroad - it was pulled from shelves after a short stint in Israel due to concerns over exceedingly high nicotine levels in the product, and under Europen Union guidelines that restrict e-liquids to a maximum strength of 20 mg/ml Juul pods would be considered illegal - the company's lowest-nicotine offering contains more than twice as much as the EU permits, though the company has said it plans to roll out reduced-nicotine offerings in the future, likely as part of a move to certify their product in foreign markets.