- Soylent founder Rob Rhinehart is stepping down as CEO, making way for President Bryan Crowley to take the top job, according to a company blog post.
- Crowley joined the meal replacement beverage company as in May 2017 after working as chief strategy officer at KeVita. Rhinehart will stay on as executive chairman.
- Crowley takes the helm of the company as it prepares to broaden its brick-and-mortar retail footprint. Soylent's trial with 7-Eleven this summer "blew away" company expectations, Crowley wrote in the company blog post, and the beverage maker plans to expand with the c-store and other retailers throughout the country.
Bryan Crowley brings a wealth of experience in the food and beverage industry to Soylent's top job. He has held senior roles at KeVita, VEEV Spirits, Pabst Brewing Company, Mars, ConAgra, and Anheuser-Busch, with a recent focus on organic and better-for-you products.
Since Crowley came on board, Soylent has broadened its reach beyond its original online sales format. In addition to its introduction to 7-Eleven convenience stores, the meal replacement drinks are now also available at more than 500 stores, including Thom’s Market, H-E-B, and multiple Chevron, Shell and Mobil gas stations.
Soylent's successful expansion suggests that the controversy following its recall debacle — and subsequent fallout with algae protein supplier TerraVia — has dissipated. The company's sales have also been strong enough to warrant a $50 million Series B financing round led by GV. Soylent's drinks are currently a best seller on Amazon, receiving four out of five stars from more than 2,200 reviews.
Graduating from a largely online platform to more than 500 brick-and-mortar locations is a big step. It opens the company up to a broader audience, but also comes with its share of risks. Soylent's beverages are a hit with young professionals in Silicon Valley, but the company may need to tailor its marketing in order to engage more mainstream consumers. The product's hyper-convenience and plant-based formulas are certainly big selling points, but shoppers today are also hungry for premium value-adds and complex flavors.
Crowley brings experience in growth and the better-for-you market to the helm at Soylent, as well as a mission "to change the way the world looks at food. ...By leveraging science and technology to provide complete, convenient, and sustainable nutrition to the world," according to his company blog post. Time will tell if he can use that mission to continue to transform the company's image for general consumers.