Nov 17, 2022 - Business

Boston-based ezCater still eyeing 2023 IPO

Stefania Mallett, CEO of corporate food startup ezCater, poses for a headshot wearing a blue blazer as she stands in front of a white background.

ezCater CEO Stefania Mallett. Photo courtesy of ezCater

Boston-based ezCater, an online catering marketplace geared toward employers, is still planning on a 2023 IPO, CEO Stefania Mallett tells Axios.

Why it matters: ezCater, which launched in 2007, is a case study in pandemic-era pivots, rebounding from an 85% revenue drop in one week in March 2020 that led to massive layoffs.

  • The company shifted from catering for offices to feeding workers in hospitals and warehouses, allowing it to cautiously add back workers.

What's happening: The markets look starkly different than when ezCater raised $100 million in funding at a $1.6 billion valuation last December. 

  • An ezCater executive said in March the team plans to take the company public in 2023 "if market conditions improve." (Spoiler: They have not.)
  • But the company is still planning to go public next year, "assuming the markets don't completely tank," Mallett says.

Reality check: IPOs are still few and far between, with companies like ezCater having to balance growth and limited funds, Alex Frederick, senior analyst of emerging technology at Pitchbook, tells Axios.

  • Just last month, Instacart postponed its 2022 IPO plans, citing market volatility.

By the numbers: ezCater has 800 employees, down from its pre-pandemic peak of 900. That includes 320 employees in the Boston area.

  • Mallett declined to disclose company revenue, except to say it's "close to profitable," and that there's 18 months of cash runway.
  • She added that bookings increased 91% year to date in 2022 compared with 2021, although she didn't provide raw numbers. Much of the boost has come from hybrid workplaces that are trying to make the office more appealing and from in-person workplaces that are providing food during meetings.

Providing meals to employees has turned out to be a surprisingly valuable retention tool, Mallett adds.

  • "I don't know when that will go away, if it will go away, but I can tell you that we've seen no sign of it abating. We see companies saying, ‘we have to do this, we're going to have to do this for a long time.'"

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to show that ezCater bookings increased 91% year to date compared with 2021, not year over year.


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