Chobani CEO Hamdi Ulukaya created a stir recently when he said he sometimes imagined taking the yogurt company, which is currently privately held, public.
“I’m not against it,” he told Kara Swisher, editor at large of Recode, in a live interview at the Code Commerce conference in New York on Sept. 18. “There just has to be a reason for it.”
At the same time, he said there was a massive amount of business advantage to being private, and she teased him for his lack of enthusiasm for the idea. When asked directly whether he ever imagined taking the company public, he responded, “I do sometimes, and then I read Elon Musk and all that kind of stuff and sometimes, ‘Maybe not.'”
He acknowledged that going public would make it easier for the company to expand. “If that is going to give me a tool to be able to do it, I would definitely do it,” he said.
Chobani, based in Norwich, New York, declined to comment.
The company built a more than $400 million, 1-million-square-foot yogurt plant in 2012 in Twin Falls, Chobani’s second after Ulukaya launched it in New York. Two years ago, he gave about 1,000 of its Twin Falls employees a 10-percent ownership stake in the company. Idaho workers earn an average of $15 an hour, more than twice the minimum wage of $7.25. In November, Ulukaya announced plans to add a $21- million research facility to the plant.
Ulukaya, a Turkish immigrant, employs 2,000 workers, including 300 refugees, which has brought the company some controversy.