Why is Juul worth $16 billion? It's more like a cigarette than you think … – The Verge

E-cigarette start-up Juul is raising $1.2 billion against a $15 billion valuation — which will up the company’s worth to more than $16 billion, Bloomberg reported last week. Why is it so valuable? Selling nicotine has been a good business model for a long time, and Juul is making a product that delivers nicotine like a cigarette.

Verge video director Christian Mazza started vaping after he quit the cigarettes he’d smoked for 15 years. At first, he didn’t like the Juul compared to the low-nicotine e-cigs he started with. But over time, he says, “It just sort of took over, and everything else just got put away in a shelf — and the Juul became the daily driver.” It’s tiny, discreet, and the e-cig liquid doesn’t leak. Plus, he says, “I don’t know what’s going on on a molecular level, but it hits smoother and it’s a lot more satisfying when you’re craving that nicotine.”

Dieter Bohn, The Verge’s executive editor, agrees. “I do feel the hit of the nicotine much more strongly than I do with other e-cigs,” he says. “The fact that the nicotine appears to feel a little more effective or direct than other vapes means, for me at least, it has been remarkably difficult to kick it.”

Juuls provide a nicotine hit that’s much more like smoking a cigarette than other e-cigs, and it’s not really a secret why: the company is very proud of its patented JuulSalts approach to nicotine delivery. Those JuulSalts are compounds called nicotine salts, which also form in the heat-dried tobacco leaves used to make most-cigarettes.

These nicotine salts are less harsh to inhale than the straight-up, “freebase” nicotine used in most regular nicotine vapes — the same kind of nicotine you get from

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