December 23, 2020
Unilever Acquires SmartyPants Vitamins
December 23, 2020
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – December 23, 2020 10:00 AM EST
SmartyPants, Inc. (“SmartyPants” or the “Company”), a Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital Portfolio company and a leading producer of premium multi-vitamins, was acquired by Unilever (NYSE: UL), a leading global supplier of personal care products. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
SmartyPants was founded in 2011 by entrepreneurs Courtney and Gordon Gould, who set out to create an affordable, premium and comprehensive supplement to support the wellbeing needs of children and adults. The Company’s differentiating factors include the multi-vitamin’s all-in-one feature, which adds convenience and reduces costs for consumers, and the inclusion of non-GMO, natural, high-quality ingredients. Additionally, the Company partnered with Vitamin Angels, making a matching 1-for-1 micronutrient grant for every bottle of vitamins sold in an attempt to impact global malnutrition. SmartyPants is headquartered in Marina Del Rey and sells its products nationwide across a variety of channels including online, club, mass and specialty retail.
Expansion Capital acquired its minority stake in April 2018 as lead investor in the Company’s Series D round. SmartyPants represented a unique opportunity for Expansion Capital to partner with a high-momentum, founder-run business with attractive whitespace opportunities and strong online capabilities.
“We gravitate towards founder run businesses and were attracted to SmartyPants given its differentiated brand and significant repeat purchase loyalty,” said Lincoln Isetta, Morgan Stanley Managing Director, Expansion Capital Senior Investment Team member and SmartyPants Board Member. “SmartyPants had already established success and momentum across multiple channels with significant outperformance online. In addition, the Company had a well-developed process and deep expertise working within regulatory frameworks. We saw this as a key advantage, especially when combined with the support we felt we could provide the company over the course of our investment.”
During its investment period, Expansion Capital worked closely with SmartyPants to drive growth, recruit new executive team members and secure flexible debt financing. Said Isetta of these initiatives, “In collaboration with management, we were able to access Morgan Stanley’s broad array of resources to help the company grow rapidly through both existing and new accounts as well as expansion in their product set. The material growth in revenue and profitability we witnessed is consistent with our overall strategy of partnering with founders of growing companies and taking an active approach throughout the lifecycle of our investment.”
About SmartyPants Vitamins
Since 2011, SmartyPants has led the supplement industry in designing and manufacturing comprehensive, multifunctional supplements in a variety of easy-to-take formats for the whole family. Scientifically-formulated, made with premium, responsibly-sourced ingredients and delightful to take, their products are made in North America are free of any synthetic colors, artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, or preservatives, and are third-party lab tested. In partnership with Vitamin Angels, SmartyPants Vitamins has reached over 14 million mothers and children worldwide with nutrient grants, with a goal of reaching 100 million by 2025. SmartyPants Vitamins can be found in more than 30,000 stores across the country including the world's leading specialty, club and online retailers including: Amazon, Costco, Target, Walmart, Whole Foods Market, Walgreens, and many more. For more information, please visit www.smartypantsvitamins.com.
About Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital
Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital is the growth-focused private investment platform within Morgan Stanley Investment Management. Funds managed by Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital target growth equity and credit investments within technology, healthcare, consumer, digital media and other high growth sectors. For over three decades, Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital has successfully pursued growth investment opportunities and has completed investments in over 200 companies leveraging the global brand and network of Morgan Stanley. For further information about Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital, please visit www.morganstanley.com/im/expansioncapital.
About Unilever North America
Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Beauty & Personal Care, Home Care, and Foods & Refreshment products with sales in over 190 countries and reaching 2.5 billion consumers a day. In the United States and Canada, the portfolio includes brand icons such as: Axe, Ben & Jerry’s, Breyers, Degree, Dollar Shave Club, Dove, Hellmann’s, Klondike, Knorr, Lever 2000, Lipton, Love Beauty and Planet, Magnum, Nexxus, Noxzema, Pond’s, Popsicle, Pure Leaf, Q-tips, Seventh Generation, Simple, Sir Kensington’s, St. Ives, Suave, Talenti Gelato & Sorbetto, TAZO, TIGI, TRESemmé and Vaseline. All of the preceding brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of the Unilever Group of Companies.