Jay-Z just invested in Simulate, the cult vegan chicken brand formerly known as Nuggs.
The award-winning American musician, producer, and entrepreneur, whose real name is Shawn Carter, has invested in several vegan and sustainability-themed companies in recent years.
His firm, Marcy Venture Partners (MVP)—named after the Marcy Projects in Brooklyn, New York, where Jay-Z grew up—now backs Impossible Foods, Partake, and Oatly, as well as Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty lingerie line, the compostable phone case maker Pela, electric bike producers MATE, and now, Simulate.
Jay-Z and Vegan Investing
MVP invested in the plant-based chicken brand as part of its series B funding round, led by Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian’s venture firm Seven Seven Six and raising $50 million for Simulate (now valued at $250 million). Ohanian, who is married to Serena Williams—an Impossible Foods investor like Jay Z—has also joined the Simulate board of directors.
The company raised $7 million in its series A funding round in 2019, followed by an additional $4 million announced in 2020. According to Bloomberg, Simulate spokesman Andrew Watts confirmed MVP’s participation in the latest round of fund raising for the company but did not confirm the size of its investment.
Investments aren’t the only way that Jay-Z promotes meat-free food. Back in 2019, he and Beyoncé introduced a plant-based “movement” called The Greenprint, designed and launched by exercise physiologist Marco Borges to promote and facilitate vegan eating. The trio also co-own 22 Days Nutrition, a vegan meal planning service, online store, and blog.
In a statement released at the time, Jay-Z and Beyoncé said: “The benefits of a single plant-based meal a day can have such a profound impact on our health and the environment… We want to challenge you as we challenge ourselves to move towards a more plant-based lifestyle.”
‘We Believe All Cultural Change Starts With Younger People’
Animal-based chicken is one of the most widely eaten proteins in the world, and demand for vegan chicken-style products (and nuggets, in particular) is growing fast.
Simulate, which now produces both vegan chicken nuggets and burger patty-style “Discs,” is particularly popular amongst millennials and Generation Z—both key demographics in the booming plant-based movement in general.
“Most young Americans’ first taste of meat is a chicken nugget or tender and we thought Nuggs would be a good entry point as we believe all cultural change starts with younger people,” said 21-year-old entrepreneur and Simulate founder Ben Pasternak.
Simulate is well-known for its meme-focused marketing and attention-grabbing taglines such as “Kill You Slower” and the “Tesla of Chicken.” Pasternak founded the company in 2018 ahead of a 2019 launch, and more than 5, 000 retailers—including Walmart and Target—now stock its vegan chicken.
“The use of animals is one of the largest inefficiencies in the food system and not sustainable for the planet, an idea that’s now part of collective consciousness,” he said.