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Twitter co-founder Williams says his 'phenomenally lucrative' bet on Beyond Meat stemmed from his vegan past

Key Points
  • Ev Williams, co-founder of Twitter and partner at venture firm Obvious Ventures, spoke onstage at the Collision conference in Toronto.
  • Williams and partner Biz Stone had both been vegan and wanted to disrupt the meat market.
  • Beyond Meat shares jumped 163% on the day of the company's IPO.
Ethan Brown, founder and chief executive officer of Beyond Meat Inc., center, celebrates with his wife Tracy Brown, center left, and guests during the company's initial public offering (IPO) at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York, on Thursday, May 2, 2019.
Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Twitter co-founder Ev Williams said his past experience as a vegan was one of the factors that led his venture capital firm to make an investment in Beyond Meat, the maker of plant-based meat substitutes that went public earlier this month.

Obvious Ventures, which Williams co-founded in 2014, owns a stake in Beyond Meat that's now valued at close to $350 million, following the stock's more than 200% increase since the company's IPO.

"The response to the Beyond Meat IPO, which has been so gratifying, is that people are paying attention to this plant protein company that most people wouldn't have predicted would make such a big blip," Williams said in an onstage interview at the Collision conference in Toronto on Tuesday. "I think it's a lot of people seeing the potential."

Williams said his firm focuses on what the partners call "world-positive investing," and big systemic problems in society. Obvious has also invested in electric bus company Proterra and supplements company Olly, which Unilever recently said it would acquire.

With Beyond Meat, Williams said the firm wanted to invest in disrupting the "trillion-dollar market" for animal products.

"It's not an impact investment, it's a phenomenally lucrative, profitable investment," Williams said, adding that the company also addresses a huge environmental need because of the carbon footprint of the meat industry.

Williams, who now eats fish, said both he and fellow Twitter co-founder Biz Stone were fans of Beyond Meat's products.

"The goal with it was always to penetrate the meat market — I mean that in the actual grocery store sense," Williams said.

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