Last week we received amazing news when the San Francisco-based Memphis Meats announced its $17M Series A round, led by the venture capital firm DFJ. The first steps of this partnership between DFJ partner Steve Jurvetson and the clean meat company Co-founder Uma Valeti were not taken under the hot Californian sun, but in the cold and dark Helsinki – at Slush 2016, to be exact.
For Steve Jurvetson and Uma Valeti, being in the right place at the right time meant flying all the way from Silicon Valley to Helsinki in November. The Memphis Meats Co-founder Valeti came to Slush 2016 to talk about the future of meat. His company produces real meat from animal cells without the need to feed, breed and slaughter animals. Around the same time that Valeti was sharing his views on the Founder Stage, Jurvetson was discussing moonshots together with Naveen Jain of Moon Express and Maria Ritola of Iris AI on the Black Stage of the same event.
During that discussion Jurvetson expressed his concern towards the unsustainability of the current meat industry, saying getting off meat grown from animals and replacing it with meat grown at a laboratory is one of the biggest things you could do for climate change. “I mean I love meat, I love bacon, [but] we don’t need to rip it off from pigs and cows. That’s a really barbaric way to get meat. That could be another moonshot,” claimed Jurvetson.
It was not until these two visionaries were introduced to each other by meat futurist Christiana Wyly that Valeti and Jurvetson realized they had a common interest towards reforming the meat industry. Now, less than a year after the two first met, the future of the industry looks promising: alongside DFJ and Jurvetson, such names as Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Kimbal Musk have jumped on board to invest in the Memphis Meats’ game changing mission. The company is planning to use the funds to continue developing their products, to accelerate its work in scaling up clean meat production, to reduce production costs to levels comparable to and even below conventional meat costs, and to quadruple its current workforce.
For Jurvetson, travelling all the way to the North turned out to be the catalyst on his mission to help change the current meat industry. “It’s crazy that of all the places in the world I was introduced to Uma and Memphis Meats at Slush, held in the cold and dark city of Helsinki,” Jurvetson says, and continues: “Now, together with DFJ, we are supporting the revolutionary Memphis Meats team on their path to provide a sustainable alternative to meat – an issue that I have been very passionate about for the past five years.”