Honest TeaEO sells stake to Coca-Cola

honest_tea.jpgI was surprised to read in the BBJ today that CEO Seth Goldman has sold a 40 percent stake of his Bethesda-based Honest Tea to the Coca-Cola Co. Especially since there is an option for Coca-Cola to buy the rest of the company after three years.

On his blog, Goldman writes, “While Coke is now our largest shareholder, the agreement was negotiated to ensure that Honest Tea will not be managed or controlled by Coke. We will continue to operate as an independent business with the same leadership and mission.” He cites the need for a larger impact, increased sales and the distribution help that Coca-Cola can provide.

Most of the comments to his blog announcement have been cautiously optimistic – assuming that Honest Tea keeps the high fructose corn syrup at bay.

What do you think – is Honest Tea selling its soul or growing stronger by partnering with Coke?