Why we’re returning our PPP loan

Joey Zwillinger
Published in
2 min readMay 6, 2020


Three weeks into the US lockdown, Allbirds applied for and received a loan from the SBA under its Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). We have since returned the loan, and wanted to share our reasoning.

When we initially applied on behalf of our 339 US-based employees, we, like many, faced unparalleled uncertainty–for the first time since we launched in March of 2016, we were losing money — lots of it — with nearly all of our US and International stores shuttered, and key markets in Australia and New Zealand shut down (including e-commerce). Our eligibility for the program was clear and a key factor in protecting the livelihood of our employees, ensuring our flock remains financially whole and maintains benefits through at least the end of July.

Since then, it has come into focus just how many of the small businesses in our communities have yet to access funds. Returning something you genuinely need is not easy. In making these difficult decisions, we rely on our values, and consider the example we want to set as a Public Benefit Corporation and Certified B Corp. As a result, we have decided to return the loan with the hope it finds a home where it is more urgently needed.

While we have been financially responsible from day one, few could have predicted a shock of this magnitude. Many of the uncertainties we experienced at the beginning of the lockdown continue to this day — and though we endeavor to emerge stronger than ever, we know the path won’t be easy. However, despite the hurdles, we will not compromise on doing the best we can by all our stakeholders. We will continue to honor our promises to employees, our commitment to local communities, and our dedication to the environment. The silver lining of a challenge like this is a chance to reaffirm dedication to mission and purpose, like we did with our Carbon Footprint announcement just weeks into the midst of this crisis.

Thank you for your continued support, and let’s do everything we can to return to a better version, a more sustainable version, of what we were before this crisis.

Our best,

Joey & Tim