Tiger Global Management, an investment firm that’s a major investor in JUUL Labs, is the entity reposnsible for JUUL’s “write-down,” The Wall Street Journal reported.
Although $19 billion is still an impressive figure, it represents a significant drop for JUUL Labs, a company the Journal characterized as a former “tech unicorn.” JUUL’s value has been on a steady decline. In October, hedge fund Darsana Capital Partners valued the e-cigarette maker at $24 billion.
JUUL CEO Guy Cartwright addressed the issue in an internal memo, pinning the diminished value, in part, on the company’s decision to stop selling its popular flavored JUUL pods. Despite the setbacks, Cartwright has reportedly noted that JUUL Labs is“still a very young company.”
The JUUL brand has faced public perception problems, including advertising concerns and health concerns.
In early 2019, JUUL Labs took one of its first hits when Stanford researchers detailed the problematic advertising used by the company in its early days. JUUL products were marketed heavily toward young consumers with attractive models, bright colors, and other enticing motifs, according to Vox.com.
Some advocates blame this advertising for the teenage vaping crisis gripping the nation. Although youth rates of cigarette use are dropping, the number of teens and young adults who are vaping is reportedly increasing rapidly.
“It’s impossible to review the data [in the paper] and conclude anything other than the marketing is the major reason this product became so popular among young people,” Matt Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, told Vox.
JUUL Health Concerns
Although JUUL has not been implicated in the nationwide vaping illness, the company and other e-cigarette manufacturers have taken a hit in the press due to the increased attention. These JUUL health concerns may have contributed to the company’s recent valuation drop.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of Dec. 10, 2019, 2,409 people have been hospitalized for e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury (EVALI). Across 26 states there have been 52 confirmed deaths associated with EVALI.
For weeks, the CDC wasn’t sure what was causing the mysterious vaping illness. It continued to kill Americans while the agency grappled for an explanation.
More recently, the CDC identified the presence of vitamin E acetate in lung samples of affected patients. Vitamin E acetate is often found in vegetable oils, various foods, supplements, and cosmetic products. Although the substance is beneficial when used topically or ingested through food, the CDC notes that vitamin E acetate can interfere with lung function when aerosolized and inhaled.
Although the CDC has made a breakthrough with this discovery, it is reportedly still investigating the issue and notes that “there may be more than one cause.”
While the investigation continues, the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommend avoiding THC vape products as well as products from informal sources (friends, family, in person sellers, online sellers). It is thought that these sources may be responsible for the products behind EVALI.
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