James Monsees and Adam Bowen have cornered the U.S. e-cigarette market with Juul. Up next: the world.
“CIGARETTES ARE PROBABLY the most successful consumer product of all time, and they kill more than half of all people who use them longterm,” says James Monsees (above, le ), the 38-yearold cofounder of Juul Labs, maker of the world’s most popular e-cigarette. “ at got us interested.”
Juul (pronounced jewel) introduced its ashdrive-shaped device in 2015 and has since taken over some 70% of the U.S. market. A Juul, which transforms a pod of nicotine-laced liquid into inhalable vapor, sells for $34.99, while a fourpack of pods goes for $15.99 (some pods contain as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes). Juul’s revenue should grow by more than 300% this year, to roughly $1 billion. e company, which is pro table, is valued by investors at nearly $16.3 billion; Forbes estimates that Monsees and his cofounder, Adam Bowen, 43, each own about 5% of Juul, stakes worth some $730 million each.
E-cigarettes are unquestionably safer than traditional smokes, containing fewer toxins than the mélange of 7,000 chemicals found in regular cigarettes. But e-cigarettes have drawn criticism for their popularity among teenagers and the lack of research into their long-term health e ects.
Monsees is not concerned: “A fairly small percentage of underage consumers are creating a lot of noise and distracting us from what can otherwise be one of the greatest advances in public health in our lifetime.”
In April, however, the Food & Drug Administration requested documents from Juul about its advertising and the product’s health impact, to investigate whether the company has intentionally appealed to youth. Monsees says Juul never has and never will market to underage consumers.
e founders are concentrating on expanding Juul’s foreign reach. It’ll face opposition overseas, too; last month Israel banned the Juul device. “We are 0.5% of the global tobacco market,” Monsees says. “We’ve hardly touched the problem we’ve come out here to solve.”