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Amazon is 'twisting the knife' in Blue Apron

Jeff Bezos
Getty Images
Jeff Bezos

Every time it occurs to us that Blue Apron might be the worst stock of all time, it somehow gets worse.

After incautiously warning potential investors that the company might never turn a profit due to its rather narrow market and cost-heavy business model, the company announced its IPO almost simultaneously against news of a mega-merger that threatened its very existence and then listed directly into the wrath of a mini-crash in tech stocks.

We've got to hand it to Blue Apron though, for it alone has expanded our understanding of the "S***show." It's not easy to create a chart like this, you guys.

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And that was before this morning, before Jeff Bezos decided that merely tripping Blue Apron coming out of the gate wasn't enough, especially when he can cut the company's legs out from under it. And with this summer heat making us all a little nutty, Bezos has apparently decided to whip out the bonesaw.

Wanna see two paragraphs that encapsulate Blue Apron's nightmare come true?

Amazon is stepping up its assault on America's $780bn grocery market with plans to deliver meal kits to customers' homes.
The internet retailer has registered a trademark in the US for a new service called "We do the prep. You be the chef". It will cover "prepared food kits… ready for assembly as a meal", according to its application.

Amazon might as well have legally named this idea "Death to Blue Apron™" and cackled maniacally as it was filed.

It was hardly a secret that Amazon was intrigued with the "Recipe in a box" model, and that it had the infrastructure all ready to go with millions of Prime subscribers, monsoons of revenue and now Whole Foods, but registering a trademark for a legit foray into that space is tantamount to slapping a death warrant on Blue Apron's already hobbled stock price.

But don't take our word for it, take the market's.

"Why Amazon would decide to twist the knife in Blue Apron now is unclear. Perhaps Bezos is shorting the stock and trying to get his portfolio to match the aggressively 'swole' look that he is currently showing off at Sun Valley."

What you're seeing here is the market hearing about Amazon's trademark, digesting the meaning of it, some quants trading the dip and then the sheer "f***ed-ness" of Blue Apron overcoming that false bump.

Why Amazon would decide to twist the knife in Blue Apron now is unclear. Perhaps Bezos is shorting the stock and trying to get his portfolio to match the aggressively "swole" look that he is currently showing off at Sun Valley. Maybe there's an interest in getting Blue Apron down to a low enough valuation that Amazon can just scoop it up for cheap (unlikely what with the vast majority of Blue Apron subscribers likely already being Prime members and Amazon being notoriously disinterested in such acquisitions). There is also the slim possibility that Amazon was always planning to do things on this kind of timeline.

But we think we know the real reason; Jeff Bezos has been watching Mark Zuckerberg do his best Bezos-ian routine of slowly torturing a weaker business rival, cruelly strangling Snap by unsubtly showing the world that Facebook can do everything that Snapchat can do but better and while turning a profit. Bezos likely enjoys the whole "imitation as flattery" deal, but Bezos is now a jacked-up Northwest alpha male, unafraid to let the world know that he is the OG and will be respected as such. The best way to show Zuck that Bezos is still the king would be to knock off a weak company that dared to think Amazon would never be able to destroy it.

Unfortunately for Blue Apron, Bezos is a lion at his physical peak surveying the savannah for potential prey and the APRN stock performance is a three-legged antelope with its head in a watering hole, practically begging to be killed and eaten.

Commentary by Thornton McEnery, the executive editor of Dealbreaker. Follow him on Twitter @ThorntonMcEnery.

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