Pondera Holdings Leads a $31M Recapitalization of AutoPets, Maker of the Litter-Robot
AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Dec. 4, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — AutoPets, maker of the Litter-Robot, the highest-rated self-cleaning cat litter box on the market, and Litterbox.com, the destination for cat parents, today announced a significant investment totaling more than $31M from an investor group led by Pondera Holdings, an operationally-focused holding company that provides growth equity capital to private, entrepreneurial businesses. The investment was made to accelerate the company’s already impressive growth and also provide a liquidity event to the founders of the business.
AutoPets, founded in 1999 by Brad Baxter along with his father, Jim Baxter, has experienced unprecedented growth since 2015. The 20-year-old company’s revenue has jumped from approximately $7M in 2015 to an estimated $40M in 2019. In 2015, Brad Baxter recruited Jacob Zuppke to the team as vice president to help rebrand AutoPets and launch the new Litter-Robot envisioned by Baxter. Together, Baxter and Zuppke have led the company through this wave of growth. Alongside the investment, Zuppke has been promoted to executive vice president and chief operating officer, and is now a shareholder and member of the AutoPets board. Baxter remains chief executive officer, significant shareholder, and is a member of the AutoPets board.
«Over the past five years, AutoPets has bootstrapped the company through significant revenue growth, debt-free. Looking ahead, we recognized that bringing on a strategic financial partner could help further accelerate our progress,» said Zuppke.
To support the company’s accelerated growth, AutoPets has entered into a long-term agreement to lease an 8-acre, 50,000-square-foot building in Auburn Hills to develop its corporate campus, which will accommodate the growing AutoPets team and product development initiatives. In parallel, AutoPets is doubling its Juneau, Wisconsin, manufacturing and shipping facility from 33,000 square feet to 63,000 square feet.
Not only will the company launch a new robot product line in 2020, it also recently launched Litterbox.com, the all-new destination for cat parents offering more than 120 unique, high-quality cat products, as well as a new line of modern cat furniture.
«It’s a really exciting time for AutoPets,» said Baxter. «Having been at this for 20 years, it is very satisfying to see that the foundation laid is paying off in terms of launching the company into its next phase of growth and development.»
«Pondera is absolutely thrilled to be partnering with Brad, Jacob, and the AutoPets team,» said Seth Barkett, a partner at Pondera Holdings. «There is a significant opportunity in front of the company to change the future of pet care. Brad and Jacob are thoughtful and talented leaders with a vision that we believe in, and we look forward to supporting them as they pioneer a global awakening of innovative IoT pet appliances, technologies, and products that change pet parenting for the better.»
Pondera Holdings currently has several portfolio investments. Past investments include Dollar Shave Club and Dash Financial.
AutoPets, the inventor, manufacturer, and retailer of the Litter-Robot, is an international leader in developing highly functional pet products that make pet care easier and more enjoyable. Launched in 1999 by founder and President Brad Baxter, the Litter-Robot is the highest-rated automatic, self-cleaning litter box on the market. AutoPets is a 2017/2018/2019 Inc. 5000 company based in Auburn Hills, Michigan, with 90+ passionate employees who are dedicated to improving the future of pet care. For more information on AutoPets, visit www.litter-robot.com/about-us.html
About Pondera Holdings
Pondera Holdings LLC is an operationally-focused holding company that provides capital to private, entrepreneurial businesses. Our objective with each investment is to create value for employees, customers, communities, and our shareholders. Pondera’s principals serve as active board members of portfolio companies, and in certain situations, will play an active management role. As a holding company with permanent capital, we are not constrained by the fixed time-horizon of a traditional private equity fund. This structure is advantageous for all stakeholders because it allows for a long-term strategic approach to building and maximizing value. For more information on Pondera Holdings, visit www.ponderaholdings.com
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