- All members of Hampton Creek's board of directors — except for co-founder and CEO Josh Tetrick — have quit, with five resignations in about the last month, according to an article in Bloomberg.
- Board members who recently departed include Bon Appétit Management Co. co-founder and CEO Fedele Bauccio, former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Google DeepMind co-founder Mustafa Suleyman, and Khosla Ventures partner Samir Kaul, according to the article. Other members who have left the plant-based food company's board include Bart Swanson, who represented Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing’s Horizons Ventures, and Lynne Benioff, wife of the Salesforce.com's CEO.
- In response to the article, Hampton Creek spokesman provided the following joint statement from the board: “We continue to fully support Hampton Creek and its CEO Josh in their exciting and important mission to change the food industry for the better of all people. We will advise Josh and the team on strategies across all areas of its business moving forward.”
Hampton Creek has had an active summer. In the last month, the company — which is known for its vegan Just-branded mayonnaise, salad dressings and cookies — announced it was working on lab-grown "clean meat," which the company expects to sell before the end of next year.
At the same time, Hampton Creek has dealt with turmoil within the company's corporate ranks. Last month, it was reported that the company fired three senior managers for their apparent involvement in a plot to take over the company and hand control to investors.
In a June conversation with the editor of business sustainability publication TriplePundit, Tetrick said there had been several different attempts within the last eight to 10 months to change provisions in the company's corporate bylaws, voting agreement and charter. He said he’d taken the most “principled suggestions” from mission-based company founders, investors and activists to protect the company's long-term vision.
"Efforts to derail this structure were uncovered before damage was done," the story states. "As a result, several board members have agreed to step away from active management into an advisory capacity. Tetrick explains his need to make this transition. 'Ensuring our employees maintain their ability to direct our mission is as critical as the technologies we deploy and the products we launch. We will always protect this principle.' "
According to a company spokesman, Kaul, Bauccio, Sebelius and Suleyman are currently serving in advisory roles.
Hampton Creek has seen other high-level employees depart this year. In May, the chief financial officer, chief operating officer and human resources chief lost their jobs and the vice president of business affairs announced his resignation.
So what's next for the company? If Hampton Creek were a typical small startup, the future may not look bright. However, as the company has proven by persevering through several controversies since it was founded in 2011, it is anything but typical.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's found last fall that the company was inappropriately targeted by the American Egg Board's ads in online searches. And a company buyback program was reviewed by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Justice Department, but ultimately they found no wrongdoing. Most recently, Target stores pulled every Hampton Creek product from their shelves in June, citing vague food safety concerns, despite no reports of illness, tests for contaminants at their facilities, or official recalls.
Through everything, the company has seen great success. Its worth is estimated at $1 billion, and according to CB Insights, it has disclosed fundraising of $240 million — far more than any other food or beverage startup in the marketplace today. Hampton Creek's products are sold at stores worldwide.
It will be interesting to see what happens with Hampton Creek's leadership as the year continues, as well as how the company moves forward with its stated goals, especially in the clean meat segment.