Five months after warehouse robotics company Symbotic signed a billion-dollar deal with mega-retailer Walmart, it plans to go public. That should make owner Rick Cohen a very wealthy man. Forbes estimates that Cohen’s net worth is $6 billion.
CEO at Symbotic
Net worth: $6 billion
Rick Cohen is a billionaire who earned most of his wealth as the owner of C&S Wholesale Grocers—a family business that he took over in 1990. He's also the owner and founder of the warehouse robotics company Symbotic, which announced on Dec. 13 that its plans to go public through a SPAC merger.
Hometown: Keene, New Hampshire
Wife: Jan Cohen
Symbotic plans to go public through a SPAC merger.
Symbotic officials announced on Dec. 13 that it will merge with SoftBank-sponsored SPAC, SVF Investment Corp. 3, to take the company public. The merger is expected to be completed in the first half of 2022. Symbotic will trade on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “SYM.”
The merger will give the robotics company a pro forma equity value of $5.5 billion. It's expected to deliver up to $725 million of primary gross proceeds, including a $150 million PIPE from Walmart.
Symbotic also expects to receive an additional $174 million from Walmart by the end of December, company officials said in a statement.
The company plans to use proceeds from the transaction to accelerate its growth, continue innovating customer supply chains, and deliver on its contracted backlog.
“Now is the time to take Symbotic to the next level,” said Cohen in a statement. “SoftBank has tremendous experience investing in leading-edge artificial intelligence and robotics innovators, and our partnership with them will provide us with new insights, relationships and capital that will help us realize our full potential.”
Cohen founded Symbotic to address his own distribution problems.
Cohen founded Symbotic almost 15 years ago to help solve distribution issues at his wholesale grocery company, C&S Wholesale Grocers. Cohen grew up in the family business and took the reigns in 1990 when he bought out his father’s and brother’s stake in the business.
Under Cohn’s leadership, C&S became the country’s largest grocery wholesaler with annual revenue of $25 billion and multiple locations. Forbes calls Cohen “one of the nation’s most successful CEOs.”
Throughout his career at C&S, Cohen fiddled around with ideas on using automation to make the business better, Forbes reports. In 2007, he agreed to meet inventor John Lert to hear his ideas for retail automation. Cohen agreed to invest in the company that would eventually be named Symbotic for the symbiotic relationship between warehousing and robotics.
By 2009, Cohen owned a majority stake in the company. He stepped down as CEO at C&S in 2017 to take the CEO role at Symbotic.
Target was Symbotic’s first customer.
Target was Symbotic’s first customer in 2014, and grocery chain Albertsons signed on in 2017. Walmart started testing Symbotic’s automation system at one of its Florida distribution centers in 2017.
Walmart has implemented Symbotic technology in 25 distributions centers.
After about three years of testing, Walmart officials announced plans to implement Symbotic’s high-tech automation system in 25 of its 42 regional distribution centers in July.
“This move will fundamentally alter how products get to stores,” Joe Metzger, executive vice president of supply chain operations at Walmart U.S., wrote in a July 14 blog post. “By using high-speed palletizing robotics to organize and optimize freight, it creates custom store- and aisle-ready pallets, which take the guesswork out of unloading trucks. In short, this is a game changer.”