Rumors were flying today when a post on Esquire Magazine’s website stated that “Stumptown Coffee Roasters has been sold to the highest bidder”.
I heard a rumor a few weeks ago that company founder Duane Sorenson wants to expand into the European market. If true, that is going to take some cash, and it makes sense that they would need to bring in an equity firm to make that happen. That does not mean the company has been sold.
Willamette Week did some serious digging, and came up with the following information:
Stumptown Coffee officials say the company remains under the control of founder Duane Sorenson, though a document filed with the state of Oregon shows that Alexander S. Panos, a managing partner of the New York private equity fund TSG Consumer Partners, is now the authorized representative for Stumptown.
“Duane has a friend who’s invested some money into Stumptown to help us grow—to open up a couple of cafes, maybe a market,” Lounsbury said. “But he’s still very much in charge of the company. This is a time when banks aren’t giving a lot of people money and we actually reached a point where the banks wouldn’t give Stumptown any more money,” Lounsbury said.
He refused to give the name of the friend, how much money he has invested, or what if any ownership he has received.
When asked who currently owns a majority share of Stumptown, Lounsbury said: “I can’t really answer that one way or another. I can just tell you Duane is very much in charge of Stumptown.”
Two interesting things in Stumptown’s response -
In typical corporate speak, they dance all around whether Duane is majority owner.
Also of interest is the connection of TSG to Norway (see the WW article). There have been rumors for years that Duane would like to expand to that general part of the world (Amsterdam), so who knows – I’m just throwing things out and seeing what sticks. Anyway, that would take some serious cash.
As far as Todd Carmichael, author of the Esquire article goes, he’s an idiot.
Chances are, it will be another in a long history of promising roasters sold and promptly suffocated by corporate America, like Torrefazione Italia, Seattle’s Best, and Green Mountain, to name just a few. Instead we must brace for a watering-down of what was, by way of explosive expansion, in which Lady Gaga coffee ends up on Spaghetti Factory menus and ultimately, tragically, the whole thing terminates in some clever bundling transaction triggering a much-needed corporate tax write-off.
Time will tell, and I’m not sure why we care. As long as they keep making great coffee, I’ll be happy.
One more thing – Mr. Oregonian, it’s spelled “Esquire, not “Equire”