Other participants in this latest funding round include Tao Capital Partners, as well as existing investors, Lerer Hippeau Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz. It brings total investment in the company since its 2013 launch to $74.5 million.
In the statement, Soylent Founder and CEO Rob Rhinehart said, "This funding will enable us to expand our current product offerings, support our expansion efforts into traditional retail and international territories, and further our goal of bringing Soylent products to people around the world."
Soylent launched its food replacement product with a crowdfunding campaign that raised $1 million in 2013, and later that same year attracted another $1.5 million in funding from the venture capital firms Andreessen Horowitz and Lerer Hippeau Ventures, and tech investor and co-founder of Reddit Alexis Ohanian.
Founded by Silicon Valley engineers trying to cut the time and money they spent on preparing food, it is a polarizing product. Some have suggested that its deliberately neutral-tasting meal replacements risk neglecting important social aspects of food. For others, that is its appeal. It is a kind of complete fuel that allows time for activities other than eating. Originally intended to deal with “inefficiencies” in the food chain, one of the company’s edgiest decisions was to declare itself “proudly made with GMOs” last year. Perhaps unsurprisingly, its pro-technology approach is proving attractive to tech investors.
It hasn’t all been smooth sailing for the company. Soylent faced a lawsuit in 2015 claiming that some of its products contained heavy metals at levels that exceeded California's safe limits without carrying the required warning – a claim the company denied. Then last year it was forced to recall its Food Bar product after consumers complained of digestive distress. Soylent blamed an algae ingredient and has since replaced it with high oleic sunflower oil.
The successful round of funding suggests that Soylent is not going away and is more than just a fad. It will be interesting to see if similar products are created by other entrepreneurs who want to streamline the eating experience, or if the strong feelings about the product keep it a unique entity.