All of the directors of food startup Hampton Creek Inc. have left the board, according to a financial news report, leaving co-founder and CEO Josh Tetrick as the only board member. While the exclusive Bloomberg Technology story attributed the departures to "deep discord" with Tetrick, none of the directors confirmed that, and Tetrick described their resignations as a way to give more power to staff.
In recent months, departures have included Fedele Bauccio, co-founder and CEO of Bon Appétit Management Co.; former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius; Google DeepMind co-founder Mustafa Suleyman; and Samir Kaul, a partner in Khosla Ventures. Earlier departures were Bart Swanson, who represented Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing’s Horizons Ventures, and Lynne Benioff, the wife of Salesforce.com Inc.’s chief executive.
The Bloomberg story quoted unidentified sources and noted each director either declined to comment or couldn’t be reached for comment.
“Ensuring our employees maintain their ability to direct our mission is as critical as the technologies we deploy and the products we launch,” Tetrick wrote in a statement emailed to Bloomberg. “We will always protect this principle.”
Founded by Tetrick in 2011, the San Francisco company attracted support from venture capitalists, raising more than $220 million. It's also attracted its share of negative press. A Bloomberg report last year found Hampton Creek quietly bought back from stores its own Just Mayo eggless mayonnaise, inflating early sales. The buybacks prompted federal inquiries, which concluded without finding wrongdoing, according to Bloomberg. Several key executives left the company or were fired following disputes with Tetrick.
Despite it's strong vegetarian/vegan philosophy, the company is developing lab-grown meat from animal cells in a plant-based medium, according to a number of media reports last month.