- Fishwife, a trendy canned seafood company, was valued at nearly $5 million on Shark Tank.
- However, there was a misunderstanding between the founders of the company, Becca Millstein and Caroline Goldfarb.
- Last year, a little-noticed lawsuit over control of the company’s accounts was quickly settled.
Fishwife, a company that sells whimsically illustrated cans of smoked salmon, sardines and tuna, has been a hit with media elites and online hypebeasts almost since its launch in December 2020.
Co-founders Rebecca Millstein and Caroline Goldfarb were profiled in Vogue on Dec. 2, and a flurry of media appearances followed. The New York Times To a delightfully muted photo shoot in Condé Nast Traveler titled “Meet the Women Who Cool Canned Fish.” In Interview with NYLON in 2021“Canned fish is the ultimate hot girl food,” Goldfarb declared, prompting a wave of trending stories about what was and wasn’t. “hot girl food.”
The buzz resulted in Fishwife appearing on a recent episode of Shark Tank, where the brand lined up two investors in a deal that valued the company at $5 million — but the absence of one of the two beloved co-founders made it clear there was blood in the water.
Millstein said on the ABC program that his premium canned fish company has annual sales of about $5.8 million. “We unapologetically turned the entire seafood industry on its tail in a bold, beautiful and unabashed way,” he said. Plus, he added, “TikTok trending ‘hot girls eat canned fish’.”
In an episode that aired on January 12, her performance landed her a deal with investors Lori Greiner and Candice Nelson. But Millstein appeared on the show without Goldfarb, drawing attention to the previously unheralded beef between Millstein and Goldfarb. Television writer and social media personality.
In July, Fishwife sued Goldfarb, alleging that she and her father refused to hand over access to the company’s website, email and cloud storage accounts in exchange for a larger stake in the company.
Millstein said he “averaged more than 90 hours per week growing the company, overseeing operations, hiring additional staff and building a respected brand.” “In contrast, Caroline Goldfarb worked for Fishwife for less than a year and no more than a few hours a week.”
The lawsuit, which was settled less than a month after it was announced, may have been filed against Shrimp Girls Inc., Fishwife’s lesser-known legal name.
“It’s sad to see the hostility when you see the court,” an investor in the company told Business Insider, who requested anonymity because of potential legal issues.
But on Tuesday, Casey Lewis, who writes a popular newsletter about youth consumer trends, noticed Goldfarb’s disappearance when Millsein introduced Fishwife on Shark Tank and started asking questions. He noticed that Goldfarb unfollowed Millstein on Instagram and then Googled the lawsuit between Fishwife and Goldfarb and posted his findings on TikTok.
“I don’t know these people, I don’t eat canned fish, and I’m here for this drama,” one viewer commented. The niche drama about a company that sells luxury canned creatures was irresistible, and two of Lewis’ followers later sent him the full legal documents.
A lawsuit claimed that Goldfarb had agreed in writing to accept an 8.75% stake in the company, but refused to finalize the paperwork and demanded 35%. Fishwife asked the court to rule that Goldfarb only owns 8.75% – and order her and her father to hand over access to the company’s Google email and storage account and the eatfishwife.com website.
Goldfarb runs the viral Instagram account @officialseanpenn and hosts the popular skincare podcast Glowing Up.
Although the lawsuit alleges that Goldfarb has not given Fishwife any work since May 2021, he has continued to post about the company on Instagram, including on last week’s Shark Tank episode.
The Shark Tank episode aired this month, but according to an ABC spokesperson, it was filmed in the summer of 2023. In a lawsuit filed at the time, Fishwife implied that she was looking for fresh cash and that Goldfarb was blocking their deals.
“Caroline Goldfarb kept Fishwife in limbo, prevented the company from raising new capital, and significantly impeded its ability to find new investors and secure outside funding,” the complaint states.
On Aug. 11, before Goldfarb filed a formal response and a trial, the case was dismissed by “judgment,” meaning it cannot be reopened. public.
Millstein said in a Shark Tank appearance that the company’s sales in 2021 will grow from $750,000 to about $5.8 million in 2023. He suggested that his margins are high: The company costs an average of $2.09 a box, and the average retail price is $7.99. .
On Shark Tank, Millstein beat Nelson and Greiner and received $350,000 for 6% to 8% of the company. Assuming the terms of the deal don’t change after the shooting, that puts the company worth between $4.3 million and $5.9 million.
In application Fishwife reported 15 investors with the Securities and Exchange Commission when the company launched in 2020.
Millstein did not respond to requests for comment. Caroline Goldfarb declined to comment.
In an automated email responding to a request for comment sent Thursday morning, Fishwife noted that the company has a “small team of 5 people” working to “keep up with the many orders we are currently receiving.”